In gesprek met Kevin Byrne

We kennen allemaal Kevin Byrne. Waarom? Omdat hij de testcommunity elke week één of meerdere mails stuurt over EuroSTAR. Maar wie is die Kevin eigenlijk? Hoe ziet hij er uit? Wat doet hij allemaal binnen de organisatie van EuroSTAR? Is hij zelf een tester? Wie zijn z’n collega’s?  Tijd om het hem allemaal te vragen.


We all know Kevin Byrne. Why? Because every week he sends the test community one or more mails about EuroSTAR. But who is this Kevin guy? How does he look like? What does he do to organize the biggest testing event of Europe every year? Is he a tester himself? And who are his colleagues? Let’s ask him and get to know him.

1. Hi Kevin, can you tell us something about yourself? Are you married? Do you have children? What did you study? Do you have hobbies? What car do you drive? What is your favorite sport? Give us something to talk about.
Well, I’m Irish, Single, a Marketing graduate, drive a Toyota Corolla & my favourite sport is hurling. I have a lot of hobbies including most sports, hurling which I already mentioned is a native Irish game and actually is the fastest team field sport in the world – you can take a look at  Other hobbies include watching films (older the better), brewing my own beer (to moderate success), travelling to new places, reading & generally finding new stuff to keep me interested and occupied

2. Are, were or will you become a tester yourself some day? If so, please tell us about it.
Not a tester in your sense of the word but I suppose everybody has to be a tester to a certain extent in their jobs – we proof everything to excessive levels, we double check, we make sure things work as we ‘think’ they should  and generally try to ensure that anything we release is to the highest quality!! It’s all about exploring and learning as Michael Bolton says

3. The theme of EuroSTAR is “Sharing the passion”. Can you share your/EuroSTAR’s passion for testing with us?
I really love this year’s theme as I know there are so many passionate testers out there. What am I passionate about? Well this year we have run lots of online campaigns so I have become very passionate about engaging and interacting with the test community, they’re a talented and fun bunch!

4. How did you get involved with EuroSTAR?
I was lucky enough to get a job with EuroSTAR after college and apart from a year (2006) spent travelling I have been here ever since!

5. What does the EuroSTAR organization do all year? With how many people are you? Can you introduce your colleagues and tell us what they do?
They’re so much happening throughout the year – it would amaze most people the work that goes into organizing EuroSTAR, it really is a yearlong project. Right now we are 6 people, most full time, some part time but we all have our own defined roles. Lorraine is Conference Manager and ensures that everything runs smoothly throughout the year and project manages all aspects of the conference. Emer is Marketing Co-ordinator and handles all materials related to the conference, manages relationships with supporting organisations and looks after all of the traditional marketing functions at EuroSTAR. Siobhan deals with all the conference admin and more… :-)  you have submitted to speak at EuroSTAR or have spoken, then the chances are you have spoken with Siobhan. Joan is our accountant and pays the bills, balances the books and more importantly pays our wages :-) Miriam is the newest addition to the EuroSTAR team and is an online marketing assistant helping to improve our website and online marketing efforts.

6. Are the other STAR events, such as STAR West or STAR East, also organized by you and your colleagues?
No, we concentrate on EuroSTAR. STAR East and STAR West are organised by SQE. Many many moons ago EuroSTAR originated from the SQE stable and was brought to Europe by Bill Hetzel. He outsourced conference marketing to us in 1999, and we liked it so much that we bought the company!

If not, is there any corporation with those events?
We’re on great terms with them and their Programme chair, Lee Copeland, regularly comes to speak at EuroSTAR. Both SQE and ourselves are primarily interested in serving the test community….that’s what sets us apart from other testing conferences.

7. What does a Programme Chair do? Is he only presenting EuroSTAR or does he also organize things in the background?
The Programme chair is a community volunteer responsible for deciding the conference theme, choosing the committee and the entire technical programme. Onsite they host the event, which is no small task!

8. How the Programme Committee does pick the speakers? Again I see a lot of well known names on the programme this year.
EuroSTAR launches a ‘call for papers’ in December/January each year. This details the conference theme, and what topics the committee is interested in. each year we receive just under 400 varied and wonderful submissions. They are reviewed ‘blind’ (no name, company, country) by our review panel of 25-30 volunteers. They are then ranked by the committee members. Then the committee and the programme chair come to Galway in March for two intensive days of debate, where the programme is finalized. Typically, most programmes have about 60 speaking slots – so the standard is high, and yes a lot of folks get disappointed.

Are you sure they don’t know the names upfront?
Absolutely not!! The EuroSTAR programme is 100% independent and we don’t know what or who is on the programme until it is delivered by the programme chair and their team

9. How do you pick the country EuroSTAR is held in? Isn’t it time for countries like France, Italy or Russia?
Like any business, we go where our market is strongest. Unfortunately, southern Europe is a difficult area for us; we don’t get big attendance from ‘host’ countries down there. We’d love to be hanging by the beach in the south of France, but our core community is in Holland, Belgium, Scandinavia and the UK, and those are the markets we serve.

 10. How do you pick the Programme Chair? What are the requirements?
Firstly, we look for lots of testing experience, and someone widely respected in the test community. Then we consider whether they’ve been attending and are familiar with EuroSTAR (that’s really important – they must ‘understand’ the conference). Finally, we ask ourselves would this person be fun to work with. The EuroSTAR team is small and close – so we like to surround ourselves with passionate, professional and fun people.
11. Is there still a future for events like EuroSTAR? Do you think EuroSTAR innovates enough?
Oh absolutely we strive to create new experiences for EuroSTAR attendees and this year we have lots of new & exciting additions – Lego Mind storm Demos, Interactive Test Lab, Cartoon Tester, Web Village and lots more… then there’s all the webinars and campaigns that we run throughout the year for the test community. We try to be as innovative as possible and to engage & motivate testers on a regular basis

12. EuroSTAR had a Webinar Week this year. Could it be possible that some day EuroSTAR will be organized as a complete webinar-only event?
Years ago in college I completed a project on the growth of online newspapers and could they replace the physical newspaper – I look at the online sites but I still buy a newspaper every day!! The networking & community aspect of EuroSTAR is huge and that would be lost in a virtual environment I fear. That said, there is lots of room for additional webinars and online activities moving forward that supplement EuroSTAR but certainly not in place of.

13. If there is yet something you want to share about EuroSTAR, yourself or any other subject, this is your change.
Watch this space :-)  lots of exciting announcements over the coming weeks and months…..