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 Lewis Prescott, QA Automation Lead at Cancer Research UK, to find out more about why he joined the tech industry, what his role entails, what are the challenges he faces, and his advice to aspiring engineers and testers.
What is your current role and responsibilities?
QA Automation Lead. My role involves overseeing Automation Testers on multiple products within Cancer Research UK. Devising best practices and agreeing on the test approach.
What was your journey like?
I started off with a psychology degree, started testing as part of my first job out of university which involved everything from support to marketing. I then pursued a graduate scheme in software testing due to my love of the intricacies of the software.
What drew you to the tech industry?
The constant learning and ability to work in any industry within tech is a real draw. The ability to use my skills to help towards curing cancer is an amazing opportunity to have.
Who do you look up to for inspiration or mentorship?
Mentors I have had the pleasure to work for in the past have always given space for me to improve, through challenging my ideas and offering opportunities outside of my comfort zone. Those mentors that take a few seconds while they are thinking about their answer is a skill I wish I had.
How do you keep your team motivated despite conflicts and obstacles?
Everything is a learning opportunity, obstacles help improve the process and I encourage my team to reflect on what went well.
What are your current goals?
Currently, we are working to bring developers and testers closer together by pushing automation testing responsibility on to developers and leaving more time for testers to do exploratory testing.
What are you the proudest of in your career so far?
Recently I had a course I authored released on the Test Automation University platform. During the pandemic, I focused on creating learning materials online and Test Automation University is a fantastic platform for testers wanting to learn automation.
What is the favorite part of your job?
I love facilitating sessions on testing, using TDD, and having discussions about how we can improve testability. Setting up failing tests or activities which provoke thought and discussion is something I really enjoy.
What has been your greatest challenge so far?
Working for ASOS during Black Friday sales is always a daunting proposition, on the rota for 24/7 support during this period. Any server error or outage can be costly so being attentive and monitoring the live dashboard was crucial. Though it was challenging, it was also very rewarding knowing that you have prepared and scaled your services on a huge scale.
What’s the most important risk you took in your career and why?
Moving to a new company that uses a completely different tech stack and programming language, which I have had to endure a couple of times. You are always given the support you need and time to learn the new tech but it always gives me a lot of anxiety.
What have you learned from your experience so far?
Always keep learning, nothing stays the same in tech for long. And learning new concepts or tools also can provide you with information that you can apply in a different context.
Working across different industries I have been able to gather different perspectives and approaches which has influenced my current approach.
Do you have a memorable story or an anecdote from your experience you’d like to tell?
Working on a performance testing project during my time at The Test People, the environment was finally ready for a soak test at midnight, the soak test was due to run for 4 hours which would give us the final confidence we needed to release the software to production. So I set the test to start running and went to sleep.
I woke up at 7 am to find that I had run the wrong performance test plan, the test I had triggered only ran for 1 hour. Immediately noticed my mistake, triggered the soak test, and told everyone at stand-up at 9 am that the results would be ready in 2 hours…
Finally, do you have any advice for aspiring engineers who want to grow in the tech industry?
Aspire to be a T-Shaped Tester, gain broad knowledge within testing, then specialize in a specific area. My broad experience working for a Test Consultancy gave me a great foundation for my career in tech and has lead me to be where I am today.
Testing is more than just finding bugs and writing test cases, so much more!