QA or the Highway 2016 – Speaker Series – Kelsey Shannahan

Our eighth featured speaker who will be at QA or the Highway is Kelsey Shannahan.


1. What attracted you to speaking at QA or the Highway this year?  

I was a speaker at QA or the Highway last year and enjoyed the experience.

2. What are you most looking forward to at this year’s conference?

Being able to stay for the entire thing! Last year I was recovering from a concussion received in a bad car accident and missed out on most of the conference because I wasn’t able to be around noise and bright lights yet.

3. What piece of advice would you give conference attendees to maximize their experience at QA or the Highway 2016?

Conferences are a starting point. There will not be any one talk or conversation that will provide you with exactly what you need, but they will give you these little tidbits that, upon further research, may lead you to a solution or a better way of doing things. Follow-up on what you find there and be prepared to discover things on your own.

4. What are your favorite reading references (books/blogs/etc) that have helped your grow as a testing professional?

My favorite book is Refactoring: Ruby Edition, which is not about testing, but rather about Ruby and programming in general. It’s the book that really put the language in perspective for me and was my ‘ahah’ moment as to how the code all fits together. After that clicked into place, writing test frameworks became much easier.

5. What do you enjoy about the testing “field”/what keeps you in testing?

Two things. I enjoy the accessibility. Testing as an entry point doesn’t necessarily require a highly technical background, but it can provide a path to highly technical work if someone has an interest in going that route. I also enjoy the confidence that sound testing provides. I hate sitting around, watching production, and worrying that something is going to go wrong. It’s terrible. Having good tests in place that lets me sleep easy at night is very satisfying.

6. What do you think is the most important skill(s) software testers should have?

Obsession and paranoia. …but seriously, it’s easy for things to slip through the cracks and I feel the best testers tend to be the ones most adept at keeping track of all the moving parts and ensuring nothing gets forgotten.

7. What advice would you give to new testers or to those looking to find their “testing spark” for reigniting their passion for testing?

Honestly, my advice for this is not testing specific, as I personally do not consider myself to have a passion for testing. Rather, I am passionate about things being correct – about whatever I touch being done well and done to completion. This is something that can apply to any endeavor.

My advice to new testers, then, is to be passionate about completeness. Don’t leave loose ends. Pride yourself on creating something whole and perfect. (an impossible standard, but perfection makes a good goal to aim for)

My advice to current testers that feel they’re getting burnt out is… don’t make it all about testing. Have some balance. When I started to get tired of testing, I applied to graduate school as a change of pace, and it has been immensely beneficial to have that variety. I now feel evenly weighted between my interests so that none suffer from stagnation.

Kelsey will be speaking on a session entitled “Sustainable Automation Frameworks.”

You can find Kelsey’s session information or more information about QA or the Highway 2016 by going to the following links:

Previous speakers featured from the QA or the Highway 2016 – Speaker Series:

Matt Heusser
Bhupesh Dahal 
Erik Davis
Karen Johnson
Pradeepa Narayanaswamy
Stan Jónsson
Matthew Eakin