[Techie Tuesdays] The case of the ‘curious tester’: Parimala Hariprasad
Parimala Hariprasad spent her youth studying people and philosophy. By the time she got to work, she was able to put those learnings to create awesome testers.
Parimala makes walking the talk look easy. She has a ‘Parimala way’ of working and I believe she has a large influence on people working with her.
CEO of Moolya Software Testing Pradeep Soundararajan has utmost confidence in Parimala which is clear in the way he described her in the above lines.
For someone who has seen over 40 rejections in job interviews before becoming a tester, it has not been a cake walk to reach this point. But Parimala, who heads the Startup Test Lab & Academy at Moolya Testing, has earned it all in her 11 years in the industry. Parimala is a perfect blend of skills, right attitude and larger than life vision. Right from her first job at Oracle to her current role at Moolya, she has evolved from being a tester to a flag bearer of the testing community and women in tech.
Here’s an interesting account of Parimala’s journey on this Women’s Day special Techie Tuesdays column.
Adopting ‘testing’, the step-child of products
For me, testing is like reading a detective story which expects you to make conjectures, study emotions and engulf a lot of technical skills to gather valuable information about products/services,
says Parimala about her profession. But this perception has come after some bitter experiences and over a long period of time.
She graduated from JSS College, Bangalore, in 2003, and joined Oracle as a tester through an off-campus interview after getting rejected by more than 40 companies. In her first few months in the job, she realized her colleagues were not very proud of being a tester, and her friends questioned her decision to opt for testing over programming. She was shattered with this step-motherly treatment for testing in the industry and the lack of understanding among her friends.
Within three months, Parimala developed a lot of interest and curiosity for software testing. Since then she has worked with McAfee, SupportSoft (acquired by Consona) and co-founded Weekend Testing, before joining Moolya. “I like the value testing brings to the table for any product/services. A tester can tell where the product is good and where it falters. Unfortunately, we don’t have them in good numbers,” she says.
“Software testing is a skilled craft which requires a lot of hard work. Everyone can write but Malcolm Gladwell’s writing level is not easy to achieve. Similarly, it takes passion, courage, excellence and hope to become a good tester,” she reasons. She further talks about the intricacies of testing. “A tester’s job is to find what’s wrong with the product which is like a baby to the developers. It needs a lot of empathy, knowledge of cognitive science, investigative skills and the ability to understand the psyche to tell people that the work product is wrong. If a person is not passionate about this he/she will get bored soon and share the negativity with other colleagues as well.”
Learning is a lifelong process and not some paper certificate
Parimala thinks that she could have invested more time and education in tools of testing. “Being fluent with programming and tools gives a lot of confidence and makes you a better tester,” she says. She realized the importance of interaction with the testing community in 2008 and has attended numerous conferences and workshops since then. Owing to this, she got in touch with many like-minded people and even started a blog, taking classes and started Weekend Testing.
Parimala recalls her biggest challenges of her 11-year-long career, “Getting honest feedback from your mentors and colleagues is tough. Even after asking for it, people don’t share it instantly. We understand its importance and hence encourage the culture of sharing feedback in Moolya.” Since there are very few women testers, getting attention was an issue for Parimala, but she knew that she had to sit on the table to be heard. During the process, she evolved from being a shy person to becoming an extrovert today.
The only thing which Parimala has carried since she was 15 years is curiosity. Though she is a testing engineer, she reads a lot about design and UX. She affirms her belief,
It’s important to keep the child in you alive irrespective of the age. Learning is a lifelong process and not some paper certificate. We have to become better every day.
Life beyond testing
Parimala is driven to make this world a better place to live in. She believes that everything we use for our convenience has been designed and tested by someone. Similarly, she is playing her part to make life easier for future generations. She likes to be professional while interacting because it teaches her to be same irrespective of how the other person behaves. Leadership, honesty, truthfulness and hard work pretty much define her.
When Parimala is not testing, you can find her writing, either for her blog or for testing magazine. She loves traveling and food and plans to do a food tour of India one day. Her children and family have been very supportive and she enjoys spending time with them. Recently, she has developed interest in and started practicing yoga.
Parimala and women in tech
Parimala was the first woman in her family to finish 10th, 12th and college. No other woman from her family had resisted marriage till 26 years of age. She understands the importance of freedom for a young woman and how it affects life thereafter. Parimala says, “Women in our society are pressurized so much in their childhood that by the time they complete education, they start feeling safer in the kitchen as compared to a job outside. Those who’re able to keep their ambitions burning crumble under the high demanding environment. After an eight-hour job for women in tech, they are expected to take care of household chores. Failing to match these expectations, they are judged for not being a good mother, wife or daughter-in-law etc.”
It doesn’t matter what lies between your legs and the behavior of the people shouldn’t be biased because of this. But all this cannot be changed by giving a 33% reservation to women. We have to create an ecosystem where we treat everyone fairly. Why do we have to ask a woman – how is she balancing family and work? Our biased mindset has to change for the better. We have to make both men and women inclusive about women, in tech and everywhere else.
Parimala was the first female employee at Moolya but she has made sure that the women newcomers get a very conducive environment for growth. She has streamlined the interview process and organizational policies. She states, “Fortunately, Moolya has been very supportive right from the beginning and has given me the freedom and opportunity to do a lot for the testing community & women at work.”
“It is very important to know why you’re doing what you’re doing. Do you work because you need the money, or some brownie points or for passion to create a great impact in the lives of people? Just be clear.” Parimala believes in clarity and conviction of thoughts. She left our readers with this quote by Dr. Seuss to inspire, innovate and ignite:
Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.
Are you a tester? To what extent does your thoughts resonate with that of Parimala’s? Let us know.