By Mel Gladwin, Account Director for Public Sector, Makers
In the early stages of my career as a Software Engineer, I embarked on a path that I never thought I’d enjoy — testing. My journey into the world of testing began with my first job in the Civil Service, where I worked as a Java software developer and test engineer on Oracle databases. My primary task was to write scripts to process all payroll records, a critical function that required precision and reliability.
This role introduced me to the intricate world of software testing. I delved into various aspects of testing, from unit testing to integration testing. I learned how to design test scripts, explore edge cases, and most importantly, find and fix elusive bugs. Collaborating with database engineers, front-end teams, customers, and project team members expanded my horizons, and I quickly realised that testing was more than just a phase in software development — it was an art.
Prior to this role, I had never truly appreciated the depth of testing. However, as I dived deeper into it, I began to understand its significance. Testing wasn’t just about finding defects; it was about ensuring that software met the expectations and needs of the end-users. This experience was instrumental in shaping my career.
With my newfound skills, I transitioned into a research role. Here, I set research goals to prove the business value of proof-of-concept projects. My testing background allowed me to approach these projects with a critical eye, ensuring that they were not only technically feasible but also aligned with the intended outcomes.
My next exposure was a transformative two years as part of a series of agile enterprise-level projects. These projects involved delivering bespoke high-speed networking solutions, each with strict requirements, use cases, and user stories. Here, I found myself crafting upfront test scripts for code and conducting extensive user acceptance testing (UAT).
However, my career took an exciting turn as I pivoted into the role of a Requirements Engineer. This position was distinctly user-focused, requiring me to interact closely with customers. My testing experience was invaluable in articulating their needs, translating them into clear requirements, and ensuring they could see their vision materialise.
Building on this experience, I transitioned into a role as a Business Analyst, but this time, I was tackling broader business problems, often with a technological dimension. My testing background proved indispensable in identifying and addressing pain points, thereby contributing to more effective solutions.
Over time, I reached senior levels in a tech-enabled business change team. My journey didn’t stop there; I eventually ventured into the industry as a Relationship Manager. Surprisingly, my testing skills remained a crucial part of my toolkit. They allowed me to capture intricate business needs, translate them into clear statements of work, and ensure that our customers received precisely what they were paying for.
In hindsight, my career trajectory was profoundly influenced by my early experience in testing. It equipped me with an exceptional skill set that made me a valuable member of agile teams, a successful Business Analyst, and eventually, a sales professional. I came to realise that testing wasn’t just a phase; it was a mindset — one that focused on delivering technology that truly met people’s needs.
I never anticipated that I’d grow to enjoy testing so much. It opened my eyes to the art of building excellent systems and helped me appreciate the value of meticulous quality assurance. I could have made a career out of testing, but it served as the launchpad for a fulfilling journey that took me from testing to sales. Testing isn’t just a profession; it’s a foundational skill that can shape a versatile and rewarding career.
Mel spent most of her early career as a software engineer within the Civil Service. Her journey has included roles in software development, cyber research and education. Mel now works as the Account Director for the Public Sector at Makers, establishing impactful partnerships with the Public Sector in their journey to recruit, train and up-skill the next generation of tech specialists.