European Software Testing Awards Judging Panel: Dan Camilleri

Dan Camilleri has 20+ years of experience in Software Testing covering a wide range of sectors including, Insurance, Analytics, Banking, Payments, Public Sector and Consulting.

Currently working in the Pharmaceutical sector for AstraZeneca where he is Director of  Software Quality and Testing, he has global responsibility for the quality of their internal systems.

He has a passion for developing high-performing global test communities, embedding a ‘quality culture’ within organizations, and driving change through the implementation of modern test techniques via Automation and DevOps practices.

Dan will be part of the judging panel for the European Software Testing Awards 2021. 


Can you introduce yourself and your current role?

My name is Dan Camilleri, and I am currently the Software Quality and Test Director at AstraZeneca. In addition to the Software Testing teams, I am now also responsible for a team of Software Engineers developing internal applications. I’ve been here for 3 years so far, it’s an interesting and challenging role.

What inspired you to get involved in the IT industry?

I fell into testing by accident really. I always had an interest in computers and software when I was at school. I remember spending lots of time writing command-line codes and seeing how computers work. But to be honest, I never thought of it as a career when I was at school. When the opportunity presented itself, I’ve jumped on it and I haven’t looked back since.

Can you tell me about your journey and how you got where you are now?

Back in the ’90s, I was working for an insurance company that was moving paper-based processes into a software system. I was asked to see if the software actually works for users. So, I did it and when the test was finished, the test manager asked me to stay full-time. Apparently, I had an aptitude for testing, for breaking software and I clearly enjoyed it.

That’s how it happened, and I stayed with this company for a couple of years. The test manager gave me the principles of software development and software testing and I really enjoyed it.

That led to my career today. I’ve only ever worked in IT since then, in a testing capacity. I’ve done all kinds of hands-on testing – manual, automation, performance testing.

I really enjoy the variety that testing offered me. It wasn’t just sitting in front of a machine all day, there were so many things to testing for me. That still gets me very interested

I’ve worked for various companies since then – small start-ups, large organizations – in various roles. I’ve been in test management for about 10-12 years ago. I’ve progressed into roles in test management before joining AstraZeneca.

What made you want to become a judge for the European Software Testing Awards?

I value testing as a profession. However, historically, it’s always been secondary. So when I discovered the European Software Testing Awards and what they bring to the profession of testing, I see that they really are recognizing people and companies. I’ve always looked at the Awards as a good benchmark for recognizing testing as a profession.

When the opportunity came up to be a judge, I was thrilled. I was always going to say yes. For me, the European Software Testing Awards fit my belief that testing should be recognized as a profession.

What are you looking for in the entries?

We have a strict clearly defined set of criteria for every category, and I like to stick to it. When we receive the entries, it’s quite a lot of work to go through but if it a project meets all of them, it will score well.

Some entries in the past have got some really good articulations about their projects but there is no direct link back to the criteria so it’s difficult for the judges to be fair to each entry. I’m looking for evidence that they can meet the goals set out before them.

What is something that you value the most in a project?

I value collaboration. All of the different disciplines should be seen as equal and work together to meet the goals of the project. I like being part of a team and I think that’s what makes a successful project. This is what I look for in projects going forward.

What are you looking forward to the most in this year’s awards?

I’d like to get to actually meet people, especially after lockdown. I’m really looking forward to celebrating the successes in person with the winners.

I would also like to get more familiar with the other judges. Last year, it was all done virtually and I’m really looking forward to being back in person with them.

How to keep your team motivated despite challenges and hardship?

Keeping people motivated has always been a priority for me as a manager, I’m a big believer in giving people autonomy and giving them the environment in which they can succeed.

During the lockdown, I’ve found that staying positive and keeping the communication open with everyone have been very useful to me. I try to remain as available as I can and respond as quickly as possible. I also try to give everyone a fair voice at the table and give them the possibility to talk about non-work issues.

What are you the proudest of in your career so far?

I was test manager for a payment processing company when we successfully migrated from one platform to another, without shutting anything down. It was supposed to be a ‘lift and shift’ but it turned out to be anything but a ‘lift and shift’. We changed the underlying operating system, we changed the underlying database, including a rewrite of all the stored procedures. After approx 12 months of testing effort, we had to go live from one system to the other without affecting a single payment.

The day it went live, everyone was at the office at 5 o’clock on a Sunday morning and we were all very anxious. But when it went live, there wasn’t one issue. I was very pleased with that; it was a good achievement!

What has been your greatest challenge?

Everywhere I’ve worked, I’ve always tried to improve the processes. It’s critical for me. But I’ve worked in lots of places where everything is heavily regulated and these processes don’t like changes.

My greatest challenge has always been introducing new ways of working in a very heavily regulated environment. I always seem to be facing it but it’s a good challenge!

What is the favourite part of your job?

I do like it when we manage to get a new process in place. I remember when we first started working in Agile, we used to have very heavy processes and we couldn’t make that work with the way we wanted to do Agile. When we introduced new ways of working, we did many changes, and when we saw it become the new norm. So, that’s what I like.

I like that part of my job where I can see, ‘oh we did that! And that’s the new norm.’ I love seeing new processes being implemented. And of course, having no issue when things go live!

Finally, do you have any advice for this year’s participants?

Think about the impact of the project, the impact it had on the business and the stakeholders.

Testing has to be done obviously but what is the real ‘so what’ moment that you’ve achieved? Why is it worthy of being rewarded with a European Software Testing Award?

So, think of the ‘so what?’ and of the impact!

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