intive_People: 5 Questions to Paula Charlante

intive is us. We come from different backgrounds, specialize in multiple fields and use various tools and languages. In this series of short interviews we introduce intive’s professionals by revealing how they work, what they do in their free time, and what drives them in life.

  • Name:  Paula Charlante

  • Location: Buenos Aires

  • Role:  QA engineer

  • Expert at: Analyst Tests

  • Favorite app: Pinterest

  • Currently watching:  Attack on Titan

  • Currently reading:  Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick

How would you describe the QA job to someone from another planet?

A QA specialist is someone who dedicates a great amount of their time to improve the overall quality of a product or service. See the ship that got you to this planet? Well, we QAs are the ones who test and ensure that the ship works as expected and makes your trip enjoyable.

One of the most critical skills for a QA is to have a quality-oriented mindset. And one question to trigger this mindset would be: Where does quality actually begin?

The way I see it, QA is not only a job, it comes with a philosophy. It’s something you keep at the back of your head throughout the day. Any factor that could be a deal-breaker and affect the overall quality of a process – that’s also our domain. It’s not only about controlling those factors; it’s about understanding and interpreting them in the right way. ‘How is the ship powered?’ ‘Do we need a defense system or shields?’ ‘Is there anything that could put our pilots at risk?’ - all great QA questions.

On a more personal level, I believe a QA should be like an artist. You must develop some skills & techniques but, to be valued, you need creativity.

Is the relationship between QA and programmers antagonistic in any way? What are your experiences?

This relationship will always be antagonistic. It’s a conflict of interests. There is a saying: “Who executes does not control. And who controls, does not execute.”

As we have different interests, the focus must be placed in the tasks and goals we need to achieve. However, it doesn’t mean that a QA can’t sometimes develop a piece of software (like an automation pipeline or a library), or that development can’t run testing processes (like a SonarQube implementation or defects triage performed on good unit tests coverage).

In my personal experience, I feel this isn’t always interpreted the right way and there is a foolish rivalry in place. We both want the same, so why do we fight?

A QA needs to understand the difference between a defect and an error. A defect is a manifestation of a human error. That doesn’t mean though it’s there on purpose. It’s a communication issue. Sometimes a QA doesn’t know how to focus on the defect. Instead, he or she focuses on the error and that generates some friction. On the other hand, development teams often don’t understand that it’s QA job to triage and try to get rid of defects.

We all want the same: to have the best quality product/service out there. And to achieve that, we need good communication. I always try to develop a good relationship among teammates. There is nothing more important than teamplay. With teamplay, every knowledge-transfer and task are less invasive and it’s more welcome.

What do you like the most about your job?

Creativity. It’s a role that demands a lot of it and allows you to continuously come up with new ideas. There is a world of opportunity here: you can choose who you want to be and be professional about it.

If you could replace the word "bug", how would you name a software glitch? And why?

Truth be told, I wouldn’t. Firstly, because it’s a great story. It was the first defect found on a Mark II supercomputer and was caused by a bug found between the relays.

Secondly, because it was found by Grace Hopper - one of the greatest referents on Computer Science of all times. Her contributions to US defense are impressive: computing rocket trajectories, creating range tables for new anti-aircraft guns and calibrating minesweepers. Moreover, she designed COBOL, developed compilers for it, and encouraged its broad adoption. Changing that word would be like betraying one of the most incredible women scientists.

What is the best place in the world you’ve ever been to?

Brussels. It’s a place where you can breathe art on every corner and find very specific shops (one of the funny spots I found specialized in very old maps). I also found that the people over there seem to try to excel in everything.

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