Signaller to Software Tester

By Ryan Sanders - Border Contol
Last updated: 01.06.2018
Helpdesk Junior Tester Tester

A brief history of me

I am originally from Thornhill in Dewsbury. Those of you with too much time on your hands might remember watching a Channel 4 documentary: Educating Yorkshire

Since leaving home at the age of 16 to join the Army, I have held a number of different jobs including but not limited to: Royal Signals Solider, EPOS Engineer, Production Operative, Warehouse Operative, First line support Technician, Second Line Support Technician, Junior Tester and Software Test Analyst.  For the purpose of this article, I am going to concentrate on latter.


First Line Support

I joined cap hpi on the 25th January 2016. I was inducted into the cap support team consisting of 1x Second Line Support Technician and 3x First Line Support Technicians. Getting to grips with all the different cap products was no easy task:

One of the more challenging aspects of the position was the customers (those of you who know me, would agree that I am not known for my customer service skills). Customers do not call the helpdesk to express how happy they are with their product(s) / service(s). They call the helpdesk because a product / service they pay for does not work or they cannot use it. It takes a special kind of individual to listen to these kind of calls 8 hours a day, 5 days a week.

I quickly learned the products inside out and became a valued member of the support team. Again, not for my customer service skills - but because I could diagnose and resolve a customer query quickly and efficiently. I was often working in my own time to better understand the cap product range, and further my understanding of the more complex products. This was noticed and highlighted by my manager and colleagues as a result; I was promoted to second line support.

Second Line Support

As a Second Line Support Technician you are expected to take escalations from First Line Support team members and also have an ‘advanced knowledge’ of the product range. In addition to providing training and support to the rest of the business helpdesk.

Using the same mentality and work ethic of doing a few extra hours a week, I started to learn T-SQL in my own time. I thought of new processes to make the job easier and more efficient, not only for myself but for the team as a whole.  At this point I had worked for cap hpi for 18 months. The company overall is fantastic! Summer and Christmas parties, pool and table football in the office not to mention a list of company benefits larger than the cap product range! I knew I wanted to stay with the company, but I wanted to begin the search for a new challenge. Possibly something not involving customer service…

A couple of months later, I noticed a positon advertised on our job vacancy page for a Software Tester. After a ‘quick Google’, I quickly came to the decision that I would apply for the positon (despite having no experience in the profession).

The initial interview went well, unfortunately a Tester with more experience was granted the position on this occasion. This did not faze me, if anything it made me more determined after listening to the constructive feedback.  I used the time after my initial interview to speak to our existing testers to better understand the position and gain an understanding of the tools and processes used on a daily basis.

My persistence eventually paid off and I was presented with an amazing opportunity.

Junior Tester

Joining a team of professionals that each have years of experience and are well respected throughout the company was a daunting prospect at the beginning to say the least. With that said, I knew the skills gained from the military (attention to detail, self-discipline and organisational skills - borderline OCD) along with the experience from technical roles would assist me with this new challenge.  I quickly started to understand the position and what was expected of me. Again, I used some of my spare time to study and better understand the tools, processes and methodology of software testing.

I was presented with a list of acronyms:

At this point, the only acronym that came to mind was WT-…

From a combination of studying in my own time and utilising the vast knowledge of my colleagues, I was soon in a position to join my first Scrum team (Bourbons). Under the tuition of my Team Leader and Development Team Leader, I was soon working with little supervision and started covering the weekly releases for my team.

Software Tester

Due to my prior technical background, skills and knowledge gained from studying in my own time and general performance during my probation period as a Junior Tester, the decision was made to promote me to the positon of Software Tester. I would like to take this opportunity to explain that, without the assistance from my colleagues / friends and team and cap hpi none of the above would have been possible.

In my opinion, the people at cap hpi are what make the company what it is today. If I had any advice for anyone who wanted to achieve something similar, it would be this...

If you apply hard work, dedication and perseverance - you can achieve anything.

Communication is key. The way you interact and communicate with people on a daily basis really does make a big difference. You never know when you might need to call in a favour or ask for the skills and guidance of individuals that you meet along the way.