“At Planit there is a strong culture that you own your career, and I have been fortunate enough to have several varied roles during my thirteen plus years here. The company really does provide me with the flexibility to grow both as an individual and in my profession.”
Leanne Howard, Business Agility Practice Director, Planit
Business Agility Practice Director , Leanne Howard, came into testing but by accident. Her original profession was as a financial planner for ultra high-net-worth individuals in one of the major UK Banks.
“I was always calling the helpdesk, as the system we had then was the old green screen and certainly not up to the task of client management,” Leanne said. “So, when they decided that they would build a new system, who do you think they called?”
Leanne’s employer at the time no doubt thought that the programme was going to keep her occupied for a short while. But little did they know, this effectively gave Leanne a start in IT, as what is now called a Product Owner, which then led her to the world of Agile and testing.
For Leanne, Agile struck a chord because it is about common sense and collaborating with people to get the highest quality product. “In order to mitigate risks and problems, you need to be able to see them, so the high visibility of Agile is appealing to me,” she said. “Plus, the Agile mindset aligns with my own, having an idea and experimenting, and continuously challenging myself to learn new things.”
Leanne first heard about Planit when she was looking for some test training examined then by the Information Systems Examination Board (ISEB). She kept in touch with Planit until one day she joined the company as employee number nineteen.
“At Planit there is a strong culture that you own your career, and I have been fortunate enough to have several varied roles during my thirteen plus years here,” Leanne said. “The company really does provide me with the flexibility to grow both as an individual and in my profession.”
As it is for many Planit staff, continuous learning is also an important consideration for Leanne. “As an employee, I have access to a whole suite to training, a lot of which I have developed,” she said.
Besides being an avid learner herself, Leanne has used her seniority and status in testing to give back to the industry that provided her with her opportunities. She is a prominent member of several industry organisations and groups, such as a board member of the Australia and New Zealand Testing Board (ANZTB), Standards Australia contributing to ISO standards, TMMi (Test Maturity Model integration) Foundation working on an Agile TMMi translation, and the International Software Testing Qualifications Board (ISQTB) on several working groups. She also presents at international conferences, meetups and special interest groups.
Leadership is an important responsibility to Leanne, but it should not be confused with management. While she feels anyone can become a leader, an important aspect of leadership is integrity and owning up when you make a mistake, which we all do. Being a thought leader and role model at Planit is particularly rewarding where there is an even split between females and males, unique within the IT industry.
When Leanne started her vocation in testing, there were not as many resources available as there are today. So those looking to make testing a profession, today’s abundance of work and training opportunities means there is no better time to get started in the industry than the present. Leanne has been honoured to receive a number of industry awards as recognition of her achievement throughout her career, not least of which was the iAwards ICT Woman of the Year.
Leanne’s advice for anyone starting out in testing, or in any role for that matter, is to grab every opportunity that may come along. “Challenge yourself every day to become better or learn something new,” she said. “It is sometimes surprising where this may come from.”
More than anything, Leanne encourages people to always “throw themselves wholeheartedly” into whatever they do, as well as be true to themselves.
“We are all individuals and what is right for you may not be right for others, so empathise and be tolerant,” Leanne said. “Don’t be afraid to experiment even if you know you may fail, gain feedback and learn quickly. Education is power and here at Planit there is plenty of training at your fingertips, so take advantage of continuous learning.”