EuroSTAR 2019 – working well

It’s been a busy year preparing for and delivering the EuroSTAR 2019 conference; a year when I have learnt so much about myself, and about the team around me. A year when we have worked hard, and worked well, and so delivered a successful conference.

EuroSTAR Conference logo over an image of Charles Bridge, Prague

I set the theme for the year as “Working Well” and my first thoughts around that were about how the software, products and services that we test and deliver must work well for our customers – the people using or affected by the software. We need practices that work well for us, in order to test and deliver good software. How people work together, and the wellness of those people – that is also part of working well. And finally we have challenges – things that might stop us working well. In the call for papers, I asked people to submit ideas for sessions that expressed one or more of those different approaches to Working Well.

Conference theme - Working Well has four part: Purpose, Practices, People and Challenges.

Around me – planning and preparing for the conferences, and of course helping to deliver it, I have had a great team. Both the EuroSTAR team and the Programme Committee have been amazing all year, as were the volunteers, speakers, and exhibitors at the conference. I have had strong and positive lessons and reinforcements in being able to trust other people working as a team, in letting go control to other people to deliver a shared vision, and allowing myself to be surprised and delighted by what other people deliver when I step back.

Programme Committee: Isabel with Ioanna Chiorean, Gitte Ottosen, Jean-Paul Varwijk

Here are some things that we – the team -did together that were new for this year and which made me proud to be part of the team:

Our ability to work well is rooted in a foundation of being well ourselves, and we delivered a conference that in every way expressed the theme – we had wellness embedded, with yoga and a quiet room as well as the traditional morning run, as well as plenty of opportunities to re-hydrate, re-fuel, and relax.

EuroSTAR Wellness Logo

As part of that wellness, within the conference we thought about listening well, discussing kindly, listening to all viewpoints:

We have to walk in a way that we only print peace and serenity on the Earth. Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet. Thich Nhat Hanh

Software and products that work well require – in my view – both diversity and inclusiveness in who we involve in the discussions, decisions and design. We expressed this in the conference by the range of ideas and speakers, by giving the Women in Test diversity session its own conference time on Thursday, and by having a new session – diversity strikes – where we asked the delegates at the conference to put themselves forward to speak for 4 minutes on the main stage – we had 5 wonderful speakers, with a diversity of messages about diversity, coming from the conference itself. Very proud of them, and of the session!

EuroSTAR Conference Diversity Strikes logo

There are many great speakers, and it is often a puzzle to know how you become a keynote – we introduced the New Generation Keynote mentoring scheme, mentored by Fiona Charles. The next generation keynotes were fabulous, and each delivered an important message – about customers, about aiding each other, about listening.

Photographs of the three next generation keynotes: Adonis Celestine, Shelley Lambert and Ryan Volker

The rest of the conference – the keynotes, the tutorials, the workshops, the tracks, the huddle, clinic and test lab, the expo, and the social events were all fabulous, I was so happy with the keynotes; they showed the theme as they took us through challenges that we and they face. They showed us that to tackle those challenges we need knowledge, ethics, empathy, questioning, critical thinking, problem solving, listening, involving customers – all helping us deliver our practices better – modes of testing at different stages through the life of a software product – from concept, to design, to build and into production. We face complex challenges, and we can overcome them.

Photographs of the four keynote speakers: Chris McKillop, Fiona Charles, Alex Bauduin, Dona Sarkar

Finally, the gala awards night was so special, and I am so pleased that Fiona Charles – that modest giant of our industry – received the Testing Excellence Award – I’m proud that happened on my watch!

At the end of conference, we had a moment of gratitude, remembered what we are capable of becoming, and set our intentions to take our learning back with us, and to work well for others and the world, while taking care of ourselves.

Close your eyes for a moment of gratitude. "In the practice of tolerance, one's enemy is the best teacher" HIs Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama
A moment of preparation. "You are already what you want to become" Thich Nhat Hanh
Working well: A moment of intention. "Whenever we see something which could be done to bring benefit to others, no matter how small, we should do it"  Chamgon Khentin Tai Situ Rinpoche

Thank you to everyone who helped make EuroSTAR 2019 happen – you exemplify what working well means, by your dedication and your teamwork throughout the year, and throughout the conference! We rolled the credits at the end of the conference with about 1000 people to thank!! It was a wonderful year of teamwork to bring it all together, and I am so happy and honoured to have been the chair for 2019. Here are some links to photos that other people took:

  • The EuroSTAR team took these photos and published them via (to be added)

Good luck to Rik Marsalis, the EuroSTAR 2020 Programme Chair, and to all the team who will I know work well with him to deliver a great conference!