My last fifteen years (part 5)

(part 1 is here)

(part 2 is here)

(part 3 is here)

(part 4 is here)

I’ve been in the Engineering Excellence (EE) team at Microsoft for nearly five years now, and the time has flown by. The job is completely different from a typical test role, yet almost all I talk about is testing. I’ve used my time in this group to continue to learn about testing, but to this day, I still miss the ebb and flow of adrenaline that comes from working on a shipping product.

The first big project assigned to me in EE was to design a course for our senior testers. I had no idea what I was doing, but I after talking to dozens of people around the company and receiving some critical help from some of my new peers, I ended up with a course that has been well received for going on five years now, and is relatively unchanged from the original. This work led to a ton of research over the last five years on growth paths for testers (one output of that research is in my pnsqc paper from 2009). I think of the work I’ve done in EE, this work on growth and career paths for testers is what I’m most proud of.

About a year and a half after joining EE, my manager left to join another team at Microsoft. Less than another year later my “new” manager left and I, for some reason, decided to step into the director role on the EE team. I’ve never been completely comfortable in a manager role, but after some long talks with my peers (soon to be employees) about the move, I decided to give it a shot. The core of my work didn’t change much, but I did spend more time on “overhead”  – budgets, scheduling, etc. I’ve had a chance to learn a lot in this role, and a chance to work with test leaders all across the company.

I’ve also used my time in EE to study. I’ve probably read a hundred books about testing, management, and leadership; taught dozens of classes and given more internal talks than I can count. I’ve spoken externally as much as I can handle, and wrote more about testing than I ever imagined I could. All in all, I have a lot to be proud of about the last few years of my career.

What will the future bring for me?

I’ll tell you later.


  1. Alan,

    Interesting history and experience. Makes me think about documenting my past 22+ years doing testing on the PC platform. I remember early in my career I would tell people I did “Software Testing” for a profession and I got the blank stare from them. Now it is a different story, and sometimes it is still a blank stare.

    I guess we are both “seasoned veterans” of the Software Testing Trenches. Keep up the good work.


  2. Great to hear your testing story. It’s always interesting to hear how people get started in testing… it almost seems like testing finds people instead of vice versa 🙂 Keep writing, your blog continues to push me to be a better tester.

    Thanks again,


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