My experience at STAREAST

After three weeks of the STAREAST conferences in Orlando, Florida, I still have the feeling of belonging to something bigger, belonging to a huge community where Quality of products and services is important.

I had the opportunity to meet a lot of interesting people: quality directors, team managers, heads of engineering… Everyone had the same goal: getting the know-how of adapting and surviving in a constant evolving environment. We all realised that engagement of people is one of the main points to dedicate part of the effort. Without that engagement, efforts are useless and results are not the expected ones (or at least, not the best). To keep it working, together, management roles and leaders are key factors. These figures are the ones that shall support the team, guide and teach them to enhance their capabilities, and protect them from the changes and deviations. Furthermore, the team shall recognise this role. Another key factor,  communication between the leader and the team members, is crucial in both directions. This is one of the main reasons why it’s so important to acknowledge every role and its responsibilities. 

The Quality side is one of the most affected areas in the technology industry and it was one of the big discussions that came out at the Conference. We all agreed on the importance of adding quality to all processes, however, many companies still complain about not finding the purpose of integrating quality in those processes, not even their teams. Heads of departments and directors are looking for new formulas, new ways of changing people’s mindsets about Quality being integrated inside the teams, inside the projects, as part of the product development process and delivery. In this era where technology can help us improve software work, assure quality is one of the main stages to take care of. But it seems that only the ones being completely involved in the area are the only ones, or the few ones, understanding how important it is to add quality and assure correct behaviours under such a technological and exquisite environment. As a society, we are all users that expect the best of technology. And, as professionals, we shall apply it in our daily activities.

Quality is everyone’s job. It’s the pillar that holds the product to work as expected, and the objective of assuring the quality of a project or product is to avoid unexpected behaviours. An environment that encourages people participation in identifying and reporting quality issues shall be promoted inside teams. Committing to a project success with the best quality, meeting expectations and working beyond that is what everyone should promote in the first place. 

In the case of Quality and Engineering, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is conquering the market. The usage of the technology for artificial intelligence is changing quickly and as professionals we shall take it and make it ours. Our teams and tasks depend on how we can adapt new technologies to provide better success. At the STAREAST Conference I had the opportunity to listen to real gurus of the technology, see different points of views of its application and discuss possible solutions for existing and common problems in our industry. Today, AI has evolved and can be used in different areas: machine learning, NLP, automation, robotics… It is our responsibility, as professionals, to incorporate the knowledge and tech, integrate it and use it. Even, keep evolving it. The main goal of the AI is to make things easier with less effort, acquiring more knowledge, and therefore, increasing effectiveness. People sometimes are worried about AI taking out their jobs, but the conclusion after several discussions with experts is the following: those thoughts are caused by the fear of staying behind the new technologies. Technology is a given tool to be adapted and used for any task. Learning how to use it, control it and integrate it shall provide better results inside the teams.

Another point to comment, and for what I am really excited about, is the huge amount of women from the management tech side that were present in the conferences, not only as attendants, but also as speakers. Representations of their companies and the Quality and Engineering sides were there, sharing experiences and generating interesting discussions. Bringing all together new ideas, not only in the tech side, but also in the community. Even specific talks about raising awareness about women in the tech industry were given by guru experts. 

The number of women in technology has increased from the past years, but still it’s a minority from the total number of roles in the companies (and not taken into account management roles). Seeing so many women in leadership positions was so inspiring (and all of us shared that feeling)! We have the responsibility to keep pushing and inspiring more women in the world, specially the younger ones, who are the future, our future. We encourage all those women that love engaging with new tech, learning more and more everyday, fighting for achieving the best results with the best quality. Keep integrating women in the teams and expand the views of your projects.