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An Interview with Mats Grindal

  • 22/04/2010
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  • Posted by EuroSTAR

Below is an excellent interview with prominent Swedish tester Mats Grindal of Enea who has spoken and attended EuroSTAR many time – enjoy!

How did you get involved with testing initially?

I studied Computer Science at University. After graduation, my best friend at school got a job at Enea as a tester and after a few months he recruited me.

What has been the most challenging test project in your career to date?

I got the opportunity to pursue a PhD degree in testing part time while working part time in industry. It took eight years to finish and at times it was hugely challenging but also very rewarding. In my industrial career, the most challenging test project to date was in the role of system test project manager where we had more than 25 testers only in system test.

What has been the most interesting/unique test project/activity you have been a part of? And why?

The most unique test project I have ever done was in the role of a requirements engineer. The customer had an in-house developed test tool, which had been in operation for several years so there was lots of accumulated testware. Now the customer wanted to upgrade this tool, but unfortunately the source code of the tool had been lost so a new tool had to be designed from scratch. My job was to reverse engineer the requirements of the original tool and then to adapt these requirements according to the new needs. Working hands-on with writing requirements really opened my eyes to the difficulties in writing really good requirements.

What changes have you seen take place in testing over the past 5 – 10 years?

The most notable change in the last decade is of course the wide adoption of agile development processes. The effects on testing of working agile are profound. In a way, we still do the same old things, but the context has changed. We are now part of a team in which roles may change. The boundaries between designers and testers are blurring. To some people this may feel threatening but I see it as a great opportunity to learn more about the other roles and their effect on quality, and even more important, to influence managers and developers in a testing direction.

Where do you feel testing as a profession is heading for in the future?

Relating to the previous question, I think the agile way is a great door opener for the test profession. We will be able to better advocate testing and show the effects of good vs bad quality work. For the first time since I started with testing, I now think we have the means to reach the final test maturity level stated by Boris Beizer: “Testing is a mental Attitude”.

When you are not working, what do you do to relax and unwind?

I exercise frequently. I swim competitively and we have dogs that need walk every day. Reading and socializing are also good pastimes.

You have attended a number of EuroSTAR conferences, which was your favorite and why?

The simple answer is the most recent one (Stockholm 2009). The familiar atmosphere during this conference was something I have not experienced previously at Eurostar. The slight decrease in the number of delegates, compared to previous years, may have been a contributing factor to my experience. Not only was there more physical room for people to interact, but there seemed to be more time as well.

Has Testing become a career choice amongst IT Graduates/Professionals?

The ISTQB certification scheme has had a big impact on the formal side of a testing career. Also Swedish universities are adding more test topics to the curricula, making students aware of testing and quality. Yet I would not go as far as to say that testing is a career choice for most people. We still have some way to go in order to make our managers understand what testing is all about and thereby giving testers the credits they deserve.

What specific areas of testing do you find yourself most attracted to?

Over the years I have tried many roles within testing. Recently I have focused my attention on strategic (rather than operative) work. My favorite question is “How do we get the best testing done, given these resources”?

Who has been the greatest influence on your career? Why?

My first boss at Enea, Mr. Thomas Vesterlund, who sadly passed away a few years ago. He was a great mentor and role model early in my career. Every time he assigned me to a new project, he made sure it would be challenging so I would develop and through each project he was very active coaching me. He was also the one who made it possible for me to go back to University. I cannot thank him enough.

Where is your favorite holiday destination?

For urban holidays, there is a tie between Budapest and Barcelona. Both cities offer lots of cultural experiences, great shopping and many good cafés. For beach holidays I choose Gran Canary, not because their beaches are better than any others but because I have relatives there.

If there was one piece of advice that you would give to an aspiring tester, what would it be?

Don’t be afraid to push the button, even if it says “Don’t push this button”.

Who are your favorite band? And what is your favorite song?

I listen to a lot of different music so this question is really hard but if I could only pick one band to listen to, I think I’d pick Pink Floyd. As for a specific song it varies over time. One song that comes to mind at the moment is “viva la vida” which was originally recorded by Coldplay. A Swedish young singer called “Darin” has made a really good cover of the song.

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