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 Scott Riseborough, Chief Technology Officer at Rain Check 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.
Can you introduce yourself and your role?
So as a freelance QA consultant my roles and responsibilities change depending on the project and client I’m working with at the time, I currently have 3 projects ongoing:
Thought Machine – QA Consultant:
Building the next generation of core banking platforms. With thought machine, I’m currently
- consulting on a number of areas of quality including quality reporting, system-level testing, and performance testing
- designing a custom system-level test infrastructure tailored to their customer’s requirements
- up-skilling existing feature teams to improve quality and remove reliance on QA having to sign off every ticket
Rain Check UK – CTO + Co-Founder:
A new type of weather prediction engine, utilising 50 years of Met Office data to provide localised weather reports to a postcode resolution within the UK
IRIS Technologies – QA Consultant:
A science-based audio software business that can impact the emotional response to your music or speech. With IRIS I’m currently:
- advising on general quality strategy across the board
- designing a suite of both automated and manual test packs to be run against releases of their applications and headphone software
- involved in customer trials and feedback, feeding the results and bugs found back into the quality process
Alongside my tech career, I also work as a professional vocalist and beatboxer which is another reason I pursued the life of a freelancer
What inspired you to get involved in the IT industry?
So, I had no idea that I wanted to get involved in IT when I left university. I had recently completed a Masters in Physics at Oxford and, if anything, I was convinced I didn’t want a job involved in coding at all. It was only after careful reflection about what it was I enjoyed about my degree (analytical problem solving) that I stumbled across quality engineering and realised code is where science happens in the real world.
I got my first job as a manual tester with Cisco’s Telepresence team and very quickly started learning python realising the potential in automated testing.
Can you tell me about your journey and how you got where you are now?
I have worked across a number of different products and industries over the years and maintain that it is this breadth of experience that has allowed me to not only form my own QA consultancy but has given me insight into starting my own technology projects. I’ve worked as a permanent QA / QA manager in video conferencing / telepresence, investment banking, retail banking, TV + Media, Music, AI, Legal, and climate physics.
The trajectory of my career seemed to be working for smaller and smaller companies as well, from starting work with multinational corporate companies like Cisco I eventually joined a legal tech startup, Apperio, as one of their first employees. I enjoyed learning more about how companies function and grow, as well as the wider responsibilities one gets when working for a smaller company.
After being with Apperio for 2.5 years I felt it was time to branch out on my own as I had a number of projects I wanted to pursue, both musical and technological.
Who do you look up to for inspiration or mentorship?
Definitely CTOs and managers I’ve worked within the past. I always try to keep in touch with the people I have worked with who’ve inspired me. Always keep your connections open and never burn bridges, the tech world is a surprisingly small one and in my short career so far I’ve already worked multiple jobs with people I’ve worked with at previous companies
How do you keep yourself motivated despite conflicts and obstacles?
Keep the end goal in sight and break the work down into the smallest possible chunks, it’s always satisfying when you can see the incremental process being made. If you try to tackle something that’s seemingly impossible and don’t have a way of tracking your progress it can really be disheartening, this is certainly something I used to struggle with in the past.
What are your current goals?
My current goal (once the uncertainty of COVID 19 is over) is to grow Rain Check UK as a company and start engaging with more clients. Alongside this, I plan to expand my QA consultancy and hopefully bring more people on board.
What are you the proudest of in your career so far?
Definitely, the work I did within the legal industry; my time as head of test at Apperio, and internally at Freshfields, completely transforming not only their matter management software, but feeding into their global test strategy.
What has been your greatest challenge?
I would say one of the biggest challenges I had at a previous client was a project to get a company-wide agreement on a combined definition of priority and severity for defects. Each team had its own agenda and way of working, all of which were entirely valid, so getting a single system that worked well for everyone, but also keeping it simple was incredibly difficult.
What is the favorite part of your job?
The autonomy, working in the way that I choose, and working alongside smarter people.
What have you learned from your experience so far?
I used to feel threatened by working with people smarter than me, but being more open to it means you learn so much more and all of your progress faster. I also used to take feedback far too personally, and once you realize that people are only trying to help, not criticize, you again will progress far more rapidly.
Do you have a memorable story or an anecdote from your experience you’d like to tell?
I did once work for a client that was doing their performance tests using a stopwatch, for sub-one-second measurements, suffice to say there were a lot of things to improve there.
Finally, do you have any advice for aspiring engineers and testers who want to grow in the tech industry?
Never give up and never stop asking questions at all levels. If you’re at a company where you don’t feel comfortable saying that something is wrong or something needs improving then something is wrong with the culture and that in itself is wrong and needs to be fixed.
If you ever feel put down and hard done by, you will never be the only one in that situation, always reach out to the people around you for support.