TestBash NZ 2019

In October 2018 I attended my first testing conference with WeTest.

It was fantastic to be at a venue full of people keen to learn more about what’s happening in testing, and to hear some top quality speakers bringing new ideas.

The organisers of WeTest stepped down due to increased workload (WeTest was a volunteer run organisation run by people in their “spare” time) and the Ministry of Testing took the opportunity to continue the good work that WeTest started.

The original conference was awesome and I was looking forward to The Ministry of Testing adding their influence and bringing TestBash to New Zealand.

What I didn’t know at the time was that the first TestBash would be held in Wellington rather than Auckland (approx 9 hours drive away from where I live) and the cost of the tickets would increase.

This was a little concerning as I’d had such a great time at last year’s Auckland conference, but was exciting at the same time as Wellington is a fantastic city and TestBashes are some of the most anticipated testing conferences around the world.

With the added costs of travel and accommodation it was looking doubtful that I would be able to make it, however I stayed confident at looked for opportunities to make it easier to get to the conference. I knew that the new location and new organisers would make the conference an experience I couldn’t miss.

I discovered the Ministry of Testing Ministry of Tatts thread – where some testers had got the MoT logo tattooed and in return offered free TestBash tickets for life – brilliant!

As I was making my design and contemplating the location of the tattoo, I received a message through the MoT Slack group asking if I’d be interested in speaking at TestBash!  I couldn’t believe what I was reading – the TestBash organisers felt that there was a real story to be told in how I got started in testing.

So now what?

So I got to work trying to translate my content from the blog into a 30min presentation that wasn’t going to bore the audience into a coma.

The conference was going to be held at Te Papa, the National Museum of NZ – a really fantastic spot with incredible displays right on the Wellington waterfront.

A few weeks later I learned who the other speakers were and my jaw hit the floor – there were some really well respected heavy-hitters of testing getting up on stage.

I’m not huge on public speaking so this was a challenge.  I recognised that I could benefit from a bit of guidance, and found the SpeakEasy initiative and applied to join as a mentee.

I didn’t hold out much hope as the main drive of the SpeakEasy initiative is to increase speaker diversity, and I don’t necessarily represent an under represented demographic (I’m male, white and in my 30’s).  But nothing ventured nothing gained right?

To my amazement, not only was my application accepted but I was paired up with Janet Gregory – one of the co-authors of Agile Testing!

Janet was an amazing help, offering some really useful and applicable tips and advice through my journey of planning my presentation.  Janet is based in Canada, and I’m based in New Zealand, so time differences were a bit tricky but we worked with what we could, and I’m super grateful for the support that was offered.


The lead in

The Ministry of Testing were a real pleasure to deal with.

I’d never spoken at a TestBash before but they couldn’t have made the process easier.  Flights and accommodation were offered free of charge and super early in advance to allow for planning.

They were even nice enough to allow me to invite my wife into the conference to see my presentation without having to purchase an extra ticket – this really meant a lot to my family and I, and speaks real volumes of their culture of a supportive community that cares.

James Espie put his hand up to be the MC of the day and did a fantastic job getting in touch with all of the speakers to make sure we had what we needed for the day.

The MoT Wellington Meetup group organised a pre-bash meetup at a local pub, it was great to meet other attendees, speakers and organisers in a relaxed environment before the big event.

I spent the remainder of the night fine-tuning my slides and presenter notes, and pacing the hotel room .


The Big Day

So the day had finally arrived.  I made the 6 min walk from the hotel with thoughts racing through my head at a million miles an hour trying to pinpoint anything I’d forgotten “laptop, yes… slides, yes… pants, yes… phone, yes…”

Walking into the conference room I was greeted by familiar friendly faces from the Auckland Meetup group and made my way to the coffee.

James introduced the day with an impressive speech in Te Reo Maori which I thought was a really nice touch, in particular for visitors to NZ for the first time.

The day then continued with Samantha Laing and Karen Greaves giving an inspiring talk about organising your thoughts and being a deliberate learner.  This was a fantastic talk to start with and you could feel the motivation beaming out of each attendee.

Next up was Trish Khoo who gave a fantastic and energetic talk on integration tests, and how they need to be labelled and handled correctly to be of any use.  Trish used to run a really fantastic Podcast called TestCast and it was great to see her enthusiasm translated to real life at the conference.

Then the morning tea break, and I was the next speaker up – how do I follow those?!

I spent a bit of time setting up making sure everything worked as it should, filled a water bottle, took a deep breath and tried to find the audience past the super bright lights – every TestBash talk is recorded to be uploaded to the ProDojo later.

The first slides went really well, and a short experiment I wanted to try out went better than I’d hoped.  People were super receptive and listening to everything I had to say.

They laughed at the jokes, and I spotted people taking notes when I was covering the “CATS – Accidental Learning Framework” I had designed to get started in testing.

Before I knew it time was up and the crowd gave a really encouraging round of applause – I was absolutely buzzing, it was a success!


My part of the day was over so I was left to enjoy the rest of the topics and have some really great conversations with kind intelligent and motivated people.

In following in TestBash tradition, there was a social post-bash meetup directly after the conference, which was another great opportunity to catch up and unwind with others.

TestBash was an absolute highlight of 2019 for me.

The experience of the day has blown away any concerns I had about cost and travel, if you’re in testing and like ideas – this is the conference for you.

If you have ever considered speaking, I’d say go for it.  Sign on with SpeakEasy if you feel the support would be helpful and get a submission in.

Speaking at TestBash was a lot of fun and really helped me build my confidence to do it all over again.

At around the same time of being invited to speak at TestBash, I also submitted a topic to cover at QuestForQuality 2019 in Dublin Ireland.  The submission was successful and since speaking at TestBash I feel 1000x better about speaking in Dublin.

I fly out to speak there at 8:30pm tonight, and thanks to the MoT am feeling really good about the days to come.

Fingers crossed for further announcements of TestBash NZ 2020!


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