Women of Software Testing: Pazi Gershon

We are proud to announce the launch of our Women of Software Testing editorial series. Speaking to women testers, engineers, architects, QA Analyst and developers and Senior Staff, from different walks of software life 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.

Pazi Gershon is a Director of R&D and Project Management at SQream technologies. Pazi is highly experienced in managing large R&D groups and projects as well as leading products from definition to full deployment through specification, design, development and delivery stages. She is an expert in Automation, finance, BI, Big data, security, applications, WEB, Mobile and security.

So, we sat down with Pazi to find out more about why she joined the software industry, what her role entails, what are the challenges she faces, and her advice to future software engineers and testers.

Where were you born and where do you live now?

I was born in Tel Aviv and still live here today.

What inspired you to get involved in the software Industry?

I fell in love with computers when I was 14. I asked for my first computer, an IBM PC, and I began studying computers in high school. I was the only girl in high school who studied computers.

Did you study Software Research and Development and if so, where and what was that experience like?

I studied at Ben Gurion University for my BS and then I did an MA in math and computer science at Tel Aviv University. I studied computers and math so for me it was perfect! It was fun, it was easy and it was very, very interesting. I was cum laude in my bachelor’s and master’s and I did a third degree, an executive MBA at Tel Aviv University.

What do you think are the challenges women come across in the software industry?

First of all, women are always a minority. We are approximatively 20-25% of people in the industry over the last 30-years, and we never reach 50%, which would be reflective of how much of the general population are women. When you are a minority, there are areas in which you have to prove yourself more. It begins in high school. I have 3 daughters, all studying computer science in high school, and women still remain the minority. My oldest child is now studying for her bachelor’s degree in computer science and again she is the same minority as I was when I was studying. Nothing has changed in 25 years.

In the industry, women also remain a minority.  I don’t know if women don’t want to study computer science, or if they don’t think it’s interesting, or if they are afraid, but I think women bring a different quality that is missing to the industry. We see that in high management positions, where you have less women. I’m speaking about technical jobs, so it is very hard for women to be in high tech in upper-level positions, in management, in the industry because there are not many women to serve as role models. This is one of the major issues.

How do you think that can be improved?

I believe women are as capable as men. But there are too few high-level women in the industry. On the lower levels, there is maybe barely 20%, and on the top, maybe 5%. That is something I cannot believe – we are in 2020 and we are in the same situation as the 90s, nothing has changed.

Are there any examples or ideas or initiatives that benefit women working in the software industry? 

I have a few ideas of how things can be changed: it should start from high school, to make sure that more women learn computer science and then to allocate spaces for women in bachelor’s degree programs. The goal should be to ensure that the enrolment of women is reflective of their place in the population, so close to 50%. There should be more scholarships for women too. I believe that when we have more women in computer science, we will see a change in the industry within 5 years.

I also think that public companies should have at least one woman on their board, as a director. In some companies, they make a point of ensuring there is a woman on the board. The reason this is important is because, when you finish studying, you need a place to work. If public companies ensured there were places for women, there would be more positions for women upon completing their degrees. If we were to fix all of these issues, I believe we would see more women in tech positions. I know that some places like to hire women more than others, but it’s not an official effort. I like to work in places where the culture that is in place encourages women in tech positions.

Have you helped to introduce any other women to the software industry?

There are women in the industry that I have helped out.

Do you have any advice for women who would like to be a part of the software industry but are unsure if it is for them?

One of the issues is that women can be skeptical to join and be bold. Women need to stop hesitating and come to work in the computer industry. Women are as capable as men and have great advantages they bring with them. Be bold!

You work as a Director of R&D and Project Management at SQream what was your first role there?

I have held the same position in my 2 years at SQream. My background is R&D and project management, and my days are spent managing the people and technical projects I am responsible for.

What is your expertise and what is it like for you day to day in your role there? / What’s your ideal software testing project?

My expertise is automation. When you automate, you do one click and at the end of the project, it gives the response of either pass or fail. It is fully automated and this is my aim. My goal in our company is to ensure that all of our tests will be fully automated and easy-to-use, with maximum reliability. I want to find most of the bugs in the lab and to make sure that almost no bugs escape to customers. When you have bugs that get through, you ruin even the best project. Today we have so many tools and ways to catch these bugs, it’s a challenge, but it’s doable.

Do you have a memorable story or an anecdote from your experience you’d like to tell?

There were many stories, but the one which I remember the most is how to be flexible and bold. After 15 years of high management, I decided that I miss coding and I wanted to go back to be a team leader of a small team. I worked 4 years back in coding and leading a small team and enjoyed it very much. This gave me a deep understanding about the technologies and the current tools from first-hand experience. I decided to keep my job in mid-level management, combining both technology and management aspects in my role. The world is changing fast and we should embrace changes in our roles as well.

What is the most significant project that you’ve worked on to date?

I had many projects in different industries and different sizes. The diversity of products and customers makes it unique – security, cellular, finance, IT, and more. In the last 6 years, I have been working in big data technology which is very different from the databases that existed 10-15 years ago. The projects in big data are challenges and are very interesting to me now.

What current projects are you working on?

On the automation of big data at Sqream, which includes automation both of on-prem and in the cloud.

What is your favourite type of testing and why?

Testing that has the ability to create the tests by computer. For example random tests generate the test cases and flow by computer. If you have, for example, 1-million options and each run in 1/100 second, if you run the tests after less than 1 day, statistically you will cover most of the tests. Now think about the other option, to develop 1-million test cases – it is not reasonable and you may forget many. I call this “mini-AI.” The more you let the computer create the tests, the greater efficiency you will have, with less errors. These kinds of tests are unique and give innovation and creativity to the QA world.

Do you have any advice for budding software engineers who are new to the industry?

My biggest advice is go to the places and go after the tech things for which you have passion. Go with your passion, don’t go for more money or more prestige or a better title. Always go for what you love to do. The rest will follow – the title, the money. Go to the companies that you feel are right for you, where you feel a connection. Go for the jobs you have a passion to do, even if the titles are not right and the salary is not the best. The rest will follow because when you go after what you are passionate about, you will be the best.

Do you have any advice for budding testers?

My advice for testers is that today, our world is going to automation and they must learn how to code, learn Python/Java or other tools in order to catch up with the market. Because things will go to almost complete automation in the next few years.

Do you have any last words for the software engineers and testers out there working on their most recent projects?

Since I come from R&D, and because I am a developer originally, I really believe that the world of QA needs to move forward to embrace the world of software development. I think this is what QA needs – more developers coming into QA, because QA should be like the world of development. It should be fully automated like development because in QA you need to be more creative than in development, you need to think of new ways to develop automation that will verify the product. I believe that the more innovative people are those with development skills, they will be able to really make a change in QA.

My belief is that the world of QA and development will merge in the sense that both will be doing development. You also have to look at the company you are in, at the product you like, and at the tools such as languages and databases and the environment. They are tools and not the purpose. You have to like what you do no matter what language you work in.

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