Our testers play a vital role in delivering outstanding products that keep our customers flying. Test Lead, Gunilla Perry, is one of those stars. Here she tells us how an Agile approach benefits the whole business, the importance of working with respect for your colleagues and what makes Sweden so special in the summer.
Hi Gunilla. I believe you’re currently enjoying summer back in Sweden
That’s right. I now live in Portland, Oregon, but I’m spending summer here in Sweden for the first time since 2008. It’s so wonderful here in summer. The clouds are higher in the sky, the sun is up longer, and it’s so beautiful and clean. It’s great to be back.
What is an average day at work like for you?
Well, I’m a Test Lead on Schedaero and there are four of us in the team, all based in Portland. We’re each assigned the role of main tester for individual projects, and that means working closely with the developers to test what they are building. There are plenty of meetings with the product, UX and developments teams and that collaboration is crucial to ensure we ultimately deliver a quality product to our customers.
You’re vastly experienced, Gunilla. How have things changed in your 20+ years in testing?
Well, for a long time the industry followed the Waterfall methodology. Then, a few years ago I took a voluntary sabbatical between projects which gave me the opportunity to clear my mind and focus on the new style of Agile workflow and development. Once my sabbatical was over, I went to work for a company in Beaverton that used Agile processes and tools, so when I joined Avinode in 2016 I kind of had a jump start on that way of working.
Agile was a new approach for the business back then and my co-workers were more used to Waterfall, and big releases every six months. I brought that Agile experience with me, and the idea of releasing consistently; testing, verifying and then getting the product out in production.
Do you think that an Agile approach benefits other areas of the business?
Absolutely. I can say that with the whole team working this way it’s hugely beneficial to the product and the whole company because we can truly deliver quality-based features that our customers request. And importantly, we’re able to adjust to changing demands within the industry.
That requires everyone to do their bit also
Yes, it does. My husband is a developer himself and while working at home during COVID he has heard how we talk as a team and the flow of communication between us. He said to me, “wow, you have a great group. You really respect each other”.
He’s impressed with what we deliver for customers, but it takes the team and individuals to respect each other, to work in a timely manner, and listen to each other and work through products. We are a very strong and winning team.
Do you think those characteristics make Avinode Group special?
I do. The culture is very much built on trust and respect for each other – and each others time, which is so important given how our work/life balance has changed.
I like how we get things done. We listen to the customer and respond to their issues without ever letting those issues fall between the chairs. We’re also very good at sniffing out what is important for our competitiveness in the market. We don’t just rely on our past record, we’re never complacent.
Looking to the future, what aspects of your role are you most excited about?
As a business, we’re now extending our offer to focus more on the flight operations side, where some customers have very specific demands. The question of how to accommodate their needs is the real interesting one.
Rather than customizing features for specific customers – which would be a maintenance nightmare – we build them so they’re for everybody. I’m excited that we’re adding to the standard application, as it means our existing customers can grow with us.
And when summer is over and you return to Portland, what is life like?
Well, I live on a houseboat on the river, so water is really important to me. I enjoy all kinds of water activities, like stand up paddleboarding, kayaking, boating and fishing.
Portland also has outstanding nature and I love hiking in the nearby Columbia River Gorge –it’s incredibly beautiful. And then when I really want to relax you can find me knitting.
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