My Review of the Year – 2011

By December 23, 2011 Career 6 Comments

Wow – 2011 was a roller coaster ride year for me! It truly has been an exceptional year, both professionally and personally. Although I’ll mainly be focusing on the professional stuff here, there’s been a lot of other stuff happening in the background with my wife and her various entrepreneurial efforts. I’ll leave those for another time though!

To put my year into context, I should start off by mentioning that at the end of 2010, I transitioned from a permanent tester role with my previous employers, into a freelance role with my current client. This was quite a change for me and one of the main benefits (in addition to some extra cash, which is never a bad thing!) has been the sense of control and empowerment over my career – particularly in regards to things like training, professional development, and generally shaping my own destiny. Going freelance has definitely been a catalyst for some quite major changes!

23/02 – Nottingham Software Testing Club Meetup with James Bach

So the first major event of 2011 was persuading some of my colleagues to go along to a tester meetup in Nottingham. It was the first time I’d heard of such a thing and, particularly since James Bach was going to be speaking, I thought it was worth paying a visit. Unfortunately, due to geography and travel considerations, my colleagues and I weren’t able to stick around to actually listen to what James had to say. Thankfully, this man recorded the event so I was able to catch up at a later date [Well – I thought he did anyway… I’ll have to dig this out some other time.] To be honest though, listening to James wasn’t actually the highlight (sorry James!).

The highlight was meeting and listening to other testers! I’d been lurking on various forums over the past couple of years and had engaged in some degree of dialogue, but actually meeting other testers; in the flesh..! This was a revelation, and in particular a chance meeting with Tony Bruce would lead me to bigger and better things in the future.

16/5 – London Tester Gathering Conference

As a direct result of chatting with Tony at the Nottingham Meetup, and connecting with him via LinkedIn, I became aware of the FREE(!) London Tester Gathering Conference that took place in May 2011. Since I was now a freelancer, and didn’t need to ask anybody’s permission, or write a business case for the funds, I decided to book a couple of days off of work and go along. Once again, I had the most amazing time meeting with, chatting to and learning from other testers. In  particular, time spent in the company of Anna Baik, James Lyndsay and Tony Bruce began to fuel the flames of an idea; the possibility that I could do the same thing, in Birmingham!

14/7 – 1st Birmingham Software Testing Club Meetup

Within a couple of weeks, I’d been in touch with The Software Testing Club/Rosie Sherry with a view to organising a meetup in Birmingham. After some effort, I managed to get it off the ground with some degree of success. Just one meetup wasn’t enough for me though. I had bigger plans! Blog

With my newfound velocity, I decided that it was time to start a blog! There were a few reasons for this to be fair, including but not limited to IR35 protection, a desire to host my own content and promote my own services – I had realised that there would be a number of benefits to having my own site on which to do, well, whatever I wanted really. Also, I knew that there would be further meetups, and therefore plenty of content…

17/10 – 2nd Birmingham Software Testing Club Meetup

The 2nd Birmingham tester meetup came and went in a flash. In all honesty, I wasn’t quite so enthused by this event since it felt a bit hijacked at the time. Nevertheless, in terms of numbers, content and enjoyment – the event was deemed to be a success. While organising this event, I became aware of (and got a significant discount for – thanks to Bill Matthews) my next activity.

14-16/11 – Rapid Software Testing

The Rapid Software Testing course by James Bach and Michael Bolton is fairly renowned (within certain circles) in the world of testing. Highlights for me are documented here, though the additional benefits of meeting and training with other testers (including Danny Crone, Tom Wood, Ranjit Shringapure & James Christie) as well as James Bach, should not be underestimated. In addition to the course, James spoke at the 3rd (and final for the year) Birmingham Tester Meetup.

15/11 – 3rd Birmingham Software Testing Club Meetup

This event was bigger, better and more successful than previous events with a new venue and special guests Adam Knight and James Bach in attendance. I spoke again too!

18/11 – Agile & BDD Exchange

Following on directly from the RST course and my lambasting of Cucumber, I decided it was probably a good idea to go down to London again and try to get a better feel for what this BDD stuff was all about. After quite a hectic week, and having had to take in quite a considerable amount of information already, I wasn’t best prepared for the event though and spent the afternoon in a kind of comatose stupor. Thankfully, the presentations were recorded and can be found here. Highlights of the day – meeting (again) and getting to spend some time with Vernon Richards, and also Phil Kirkham.

26/11 – The Testing Planet Editor

To top the year off, I got offered (and accepted) the role of Editor for the highly esteemed The Testing Planet publication! This was a major coup for me (and hopefully for them!) and served as the icing on the cake of a pretty amazing year in terms of my development as a tester and a freelance!

Thanks for reading. Feel free to reach out via a comment or on the socials if anything resonates.



  • Rosie says:

    It’s been a pleasure working with you this year, to bigger and better things next year? 🙂

    • sjpknightAdmin says:

      Rosie – only just noticed you’d left a comment. Must have confused it with our offline discussion! Ditto in any event. 😀

  • Phil Kirkham says:

    what a great year for you – and it was excellent to meet up at the BDD eXchange. Good to have you onboard as Editor of the Planet.

    Hope 2012 is as good a year as 2011 was

  • Vernon Richards says:

    Thanks for the mention Simon! It’s always a great boost to meet like minded testers like yourself in the flesh – Cheers for not chucking me out of the last Birmingham STC Meetup too 🙂

    I’ve also had an exceptional 2011 which will be the subject of my first blog post 🙂

    • sjpknightAdmin says:

      Chuck you out? What; for asking challenging/probing questions? Surely not!!! I’d expect nothing less. Looking forward to your blog, and hoping to see you at a meetup? Could use some more budding speakers…. 🙂