As the famous Japanese proverb states, “Better than a thousand days of diligent study is one day with a great teacher.” I was raised by a great teacher. My father taught primary school for 25 years and was truly beloved by his students. There is dedication, responsibility, and a focus on details in everything he does. It isn’t surprising that it is these qualities that has made me successful in my life. I’m Pooja Bhandarkar, Team Lead, Quality Assurance at Blanc Labs and this is my story.
I grew up in a small town in the Southern part of India, called Udupi. Today, Udupi is a thriving metropolis known for its trademark cuisine, educational institutions and historical sites. When I was growing up, it still had the charm of a small town and provided the perfect environment for my childhood.
The focus at our home was heavily on academics. My father would tell me to study, get a degree and then chase my goals. I realized very early on that I wanted to be an engineer one day. The action of putting together various elements to create a complete entity was fascinating to me.
My introduction to Quality Assurance
After graduating with a degree in computer science engineering at PES University, an institution on the forefront of technology education and research, I worked as a Quality Assurance (QA) Specialist for a company in India. The role of a QA specialist is to ensure that the product, at every stage of its development and presentation to the client complies with the company’s quality standards. I found myself adept at finding as many issues in the product as possible and it gave me tremendous satisfaction in knowing that my review helped my team succeed in delivering the best viable product to the client.
After four years of being a QA Specialist in India, I made the bold and exciting move of immigrating to Canada. This transition was not entirely seamless. Navigating the job market was challenging for a new entrant such as myself – the cultural nuances through the interview process in itself was a factor. But in November 2019, I found Blanc Labs and joined the team. I was drawn to the sector and the tech mindset, which was very forward thinking. I had never been in such an agile company going through a rapid scale up before. The entrepreneurial culture imparted a growth mindset in me, and I was excited to explore that, and the ability to create more impact on the overall performance of the company.
Exciting new challenges
Taking a deeper dive into my responsibilities as QA Specialist, I had to check the application (built by the developers) against the client’s requirements (provided to me by the business analyst), ensuring there are no gaps/issues with functionality built. Though this seems straight forward, at the time, the developer to QA ratio was 10:1 (a more normalized number being 3:1). In addition, I had to learn the commercial lending process and delivery quality very quickly.
Always the eager student, I took it upon myself to learn as much as I could about the requirements, the stories, the questions, and the testing at very sprint. I am proud to say we saw no delays on any projects or deliveries.
The other challenge that I faced was my perception of the client. I’d always been taught to see the client as an entity that is superior to the company I represented. Their word was law and their needs and wants superseded my opinions. At Blanc Labs, we are completely collaborative with our clients in every project. My manager and mentor taught me that hierarchy should never get in the way of project delivery and success. Our clients are open and receptive to our insights and with that, I have been able to partner with them more effectively.
What does it take to succeed?
Today, I am proud to share I have grown to lead a team of QA Specialists. When I think about what it takes to be effective at what I do, it boils down to these things:
- Become an eternal student: You have to understand the goal and recognize the outcome. You have to know the application in and which helps the process easier.
- Stay focused: The quality of an application depends on you and so you need to be attentive to find every issue/ gap and ensure that the product is functioning and delivering in the way the client requires.
- Agile delivery: With agile, QA is brought in early in the process to uncover any gaps, adding more focus to more effective delivery.
- Demonstrate leadership: Irrespective of whether I was an individual contributor, or now, where I lead a team of QA specialists, I always take a leadership approach by establishing a foundation of standard practices across all projects, and encouraging those around me to learn and adapt to new tools, for example, to focus more on automation testing, which helps to improve test coverage.
I feel at home at Blanc Labs. Here, I am encouraged to learn, grow, and pursue new levels of excellence every day. Leadership has been instrumental as they have nurtured me to rise to new heights and for that, I am grateful. When I think about the success in my career, I go back to the three values that I admired in my father: dedication, responsibility, and focus. I realize that life has come full circle and I carry on the legacy of his work in everything I do and every frontier I choose to explore.
To learn more about the values with which we are growing our team, please explore our mission and vision.