Welcome to the next feature of our Leaders in Tech editorial series. Speaking to leaders in the industry to capture their stories, career highs and lows, their trials and successes, their current company and their role, most recent projects, advice to others, and the individuals who they most look up to in the industry.
Today, we talked to Aman Dhudwarr, Senior Test Consultant at First Derivatives, to find out more about why she joined the tech industry, what her role entails, what are the challenges she faces, and her advice to aspiring engineers and testers.
What is your current role and responsibilities?
I’m currently a Senior Consultant at First Derivatives, where I focus on software testing for their managed services and consulting division. I provide testing services to clients in the capital markets sector, as well as training consultants as a part of FD’s unique Capital Markets Training Programme.
What was your journey like?
Bit of a fluke! Coming from a hard sciences background, I originally planned to study Neuroscience at university however, a last-minute decision during clearing and three years later, I graduated in Computer Science with Artificial Intelligence.
Though, I didn’t fall in love with coding so I decided that I’d rather find the bugs than fix them – I joined a graduate programme as a Software Tester immediately after and haven’t looked back since!
What drew you to the tech industry?
Surprisingly, as a teenager, I was conscious of job security when I made the sudden decision to go into IT. Tech is an industry that is focused on continuously breaking new ground and since it has become integral to the success of almost every business, I know my skills will always be in demand if I continue to develop alongside it.
I also hate feeling stagnant, so the nature of consulting and the variety of work within the industry keeps me constantly challenged and on my toes.
Who do you look up to for inspiration or mentorship?
My formal mentor at FD is great and really lives up to his role – he provides the perfect balance of leaving me to it whilst being available, without fail, whenever I need to talk something out. He always offers actionable advice, on his end as well as my own, and I feel incredibly lucky to have someone like him as a go-to within the company.
I also have some great gal pals, some from completely different industries and in different stages of their careers, who provide that extra push in moments of self-doubt as well as sharing and celebrating each other’s wins.
How do you keep motivated despite conflicts and obstacles?
I believe that almost anything can be worked around or mediated. Obstacles motivate me to take action and find a way of regaining control of a situation – I don’t believe in just hoping things will change. Communication is also very important, especially when your outcome is dependent on other people, and I believe conflict is usually an indicator that something isn’t working well and presents an opportunity to make things better if handled with an open mind.
What are you the proudest of in your career so far?
The percentage of Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic employees in the British tech industry is unknown but has been estimated to stand at only 1-2%. The events earlier this year surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement prompted me to take a closer look at the companies I engage with, where I noticed a lack of true representation on FD’s social media pages.
I am enormously proud to say, an open and honest conversation later, FD is now launching its first multicultural network. There were no excuses, and it is reassuring that I am working for a company that cares about providing a level playing field for all its staff.
What is the favourite part of your job?
Having worked for several clients, in so many different settings, I have found that no testing process is the same. I’m not vested in a single approach – I enjoy seeing what works, and what doesn’t, and adjusting my ideas to apply these lessons learned wherever possible.
I find people and processes particularly interesting, and how the better utilisation of a tool or just a tweak in team structure can improve test effectiveness and efficiency.
What has been your greatest challenge so far?
My tech career began in retail, after which I moved into retail banking and then investment banking. Business knowledge in this field, compared to the former two, has been a huge challenge as I’m no longer working on applications that I’m already somewhat familiar with as a user.
Testing and reporting defects require confidence, self-assurance, and a familiarity with all the nuances of an entire application system. With little in-depth knowledge, it can be difficult to create adequate edge cases, determine coverage and evaluate risk. I’ve therefore since committed to growing my testing expertise in the capital markets domain and am working towards becoming CFA certified.
What’s the most important risk you took in your career?
The most important risk I took was resigning from my three-year graduate consulting role whilst working for a top-tier client, without a subsequent job offer in place. It was a reactive decision following unsuccessful discussions around salary – I had felt undervalued for a long time and decided by resigning I would have to find a new job.
I gave myself the freedom of time to find the right opportunity and found First Derivatives very soon after. That one move taught me to be confident in my abilities and to not fear the unknown, so much so that I’ve left and returned to FD since! I do not advocate leaving a job without a plan in place, but I do believe in knowing your worth and exploring prospects for something bigger and better.
What have you learned from your experience so far?
I’ve learned that I don’t have to know it all but that I do have to be willing to learn. Especially as a consultant, I used to believe that I must have all the answers. There are still a lot of gaps in my knowledge and I’ve learned to embrace my awareness of those gaps and ask questions.
I’m much more beneficial to an organisation if I continually change and improve than being a know-it-all!
Finally, do you have any advice for aspiring engineers who want to grow in the tech industry?
The tech industry will not stop growing and it is so important to grow with it. There are so many free events and opportunities – lap them up! Whether it be a discounted course on Udemy or a complimentary webinar, there is always a key takeaway to be found or reconsolidated.
Be willing to invest in yourself if your company is unable to fully support external training and certifications that you are interested in!