In gesprek met Petra Koenders

Na 5 jaar met succes de Swiss Testing Day in Zwitserland te hebben georganiseerd brengt SwissQ Consulting deze conferentie opzet nu naar Nederland. De Dutch Testing Conference is naar eigen zeggen gebaseerd op de betrokkenheid van de test community, is onafhankelijk, biedt top kwaliteit presentaties, heeft een moderne en frisse aanpak en dit alles tegen een betaalbare prijs. Klinkt bijna te mooi om waar te zijn en dus hoog tijd om de Conference Chair van de Dutch Testing Conference, Petra Koenders, namens eens een paar vragen te gaan stellen.

1. Can you introduce yourself and what is your software test experience?
My name is Petra Koenders, 42 years old, happily married with 3 childern (2 boys of 7,6 and 1 girl 4 years)  and I live in beautiful Breda (best inner-centre of the Netherlands …). After my study ”techniek en maatschappij” – international technologische development (ITOK = internationale technologische ontwikkelings kunde) – based on information technology, first on HBO-level and finally on university level, my first job was as software designer within R&D – Ericsson in Rijen. I started with a 2 month internal Ericsson course, followed by working as block designer and tester. I performed block-testing and function-testing. My competences were stronger in another area, after a bit more than 1/2 year I became a project manager. As a project manager within R&D (first in the netherlands and later-on in germany) testing is an important part, because system test and acceptance test etc. is part of the project. In my next role as technical accountmanager for customers like KPN, acceptance testing and customer acceptance testing were important. As linemanager of the system test group within R&D I learned a lot about system testing. In my current role as dean of the academy of ICT & Business within Avans University of Applied Sciences…. testing is naturally a part of the 2 bachelors, Information Technology (dutch and a 4-year english course ”information Technology – an international approach”) and Business Information Technology.

2. How did you become the Conference Chair of the DTC?
First I was asked to represent the academic world in the conference board. For the Conference Chair itself I’ve got elected by the Conference Board.

3. Are the Netherlands ready for yet another test event?
Well, the question indicates that there are already several events. However, most of them have an insight view on testing, so test people talking to test people. We believe it is important that the test community also communicates with the roles and disciplines around testing (project and line management, process improvement, requirements engineering and business analyses etc.) to generate as much value out of software testing as possible. And this is one of the main goals of the conference.

4. What is that “modern and fresh” way to organize an event which you mention on the website?
Modern and fresh is the way that the organisation is structured. A well known and experienced group in this area is organizing the event. The board members are active participating in identifying the current hot topics which are and will be important for the coming years in the area of testing. For the first year, the board members represent several different stakeholder groups (clients, vendors, consultants, academic world). For the future the goals is to have client representatives only on the board, so that the programme reflects the needs of the client organisations, and not what consultants or experts think should be said at a conference.

5. How do you ensure that not only testers will visit the DTC?
Look at the programme ….! Most speeches are on the borderline of testing, so reflecting on the interfaces to other areas. As mentioned above: testers shall focus more and more on those areas to improve their maturity and efficiency in their organisations.

6. It is a non-profit event. How do you do that?
Good financial management and re-use of existing knowledge and material. As you may know, the organiser behind is SwissQ, who also organises Swiss Testing Day, so for many activities we can share the costs now (economies of scale) what enables us a low pricing.

7. You say you are independent, can that be combined with non-profit and sponsors?
It is not easy. But it is a concept which worked well for the Swiss edition of the conference since 5 years. As the programme selection is done by client organisations only (so not all conference board members, as they are “less neutral”), there is no way how a sponsor can put pressure on the conference. To be in the programme, the speakers must deliver high quality presentations (we have a proven process in place for rating the quality of the presentations). At the DTC, it is not about “who knows whom” and “can you do me a favour”, it
is deeply about quality. Sometimes very hard to skip a good name from the programme. But we have to stick to our own rules.

8. Sales and marketing presentations are not allowed, is that possible for an event that has his focus on the client?
By making the programme together we ensured that there are no sales and marketing presentations. In the commercial track this is however different. the programme was selected keeping the questions in mind …. what is the benefit of the attendee ? What can he/she learn from it and bring with him/her ?

9. What are the expectations about the amount of visitors?
As a first event in the Netherlands, we are modest …. at least 300 visitors. Of course more are welcome and it would be great to say ”we are fully booked …”.

10. You received a lot of abstracts. How was the review process taken care of?
Very professional, only the clients and independent persons of the board were allowed to rate the abstracts. We added this to have the review performed by a group of experts, who also brought in knowhow on the area of agile development, process improvement etc. First were the abstracts rated and the 25 best selected for the second round, where presentations were rated. Based on this score the programme was pulled together in a heavy workshop. It was not easy to selected only 12 out of so many great and innovative presentations.

11. Is there yet something you want to share about the event, yourself or any other subject?
Well, feel free to subscribe to our newsletter and to let your network know about the conference. If you attend, feel also free to come up to me and to share your experience and ideas of the conference, we are maybe able to include them in the future!

Petra Koenders
Directeur Academie voor ICT & Business (AIB)
Conference Chair van de Dutch Testing Conference