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Meet the Keynote Speakers: An Interview with Julia Pottinger

Rachael Lovallo
Keynote speaker and seasoned Quality expert Julia Pottinger graciously took some time to interview with PNSQC, and we are thrilled to share her words with the community. The following Q&A make us all the more excited to hear her talk in October, and believe it will do the same for you. Enjoy, and see you at the conference! There's still plenty of time to sign up here.

Interviewer: You talk about balancing learning on the job with learning on our own time. Is it expected that you should learn during company time?


Julia Pottinger: Companies should invest in the upskilling of their employees. There is a balance between how much you invest into your own learning and growth outside of work hours, while still having dedicated time from your job to learn. Learning on company time takes different forms, attending conferences, paying for courses/training budget, certifications, brown-bag sessions, workshops, peer coaching/programming etc. I expect guided learning by a company where employees learn during company time.

Interviewer: Your keynote refers to a culture of learning. Will you address companies that may not have a culture of learning?


JP: Yes, I will. I will also provide steps they can use to start that learning culture.


Interviewer: Can you give insights into how you set goals (whether for learning or at work)?  Do you have a specific technique for prioritizing? Timeline for results?

JP: Currently I set quarterly goals. I start with the big picture of what I want to achieve and then I break that down into smaller specific tasks that would see me achieving that goal. Those tasks are staggered and have a start and end date. I also use my calendar to timebox focus time or time to complete a specific task. I check my calendar at the start of the week and every day to review the target for that week and day. Once I do a particular task I tick it off and add supporting details if needed. When creating those smaller tasks I try to be as detailed as possible.


Interviewer: What is the number one piece of advice you’d give your younger self professionally, or anyone just starting their career in Quality?

JP: It's hard to find one piece of advice, it's more a combination. Be patient with yourself. Allow time to learn and grow in the space. Find communities and mentors to learn from. There has been so much that I have learned from others through working with them and being a part of the testing community. People have different mindsets that you can learn from, problems that they have solved that you can use to better enhance what you are doing at work. In these communities and with mentorship, allow yourself grace and time to become an expert. You will start at the beginning, then intermediate and so on. There will always be things that you will learn. Be open to learning and sharing with others. Be patient with yourself.


Interviewer: How do you set boundaries at work to allow for balance and a full life outside of the office?


JP: I have a specific start and end time for work. I try my best to adhere to those times. I also have a slot in my calendar for a 30 minute lunch that I take and try to be away from my computer for that time to regroup. I schedule meetings beforehand with clear agenda items and provide any needed notes so that work can be as efficient as possible and don't spill over. I also schedule my vacation days way in advance. I recently took the month of July off, I entered that vacation time from January and had conversations with my manager, reports and persons who would be impacted from 4-6 months before. I created a list of people and had discussions with them regarding who would handle my role responsibilities while I was out and shared that early on. I helped to create a culture of being respectful of work hours, scheduling messages and emails for the next day if they aren't an emergency.

Thank you for sharing your time and knowledge, Julia! You can follow Julia on LinkedIn, and on Twitter, and can learn more about her work and upcoming PNSQC 2022 Keynote here. Also, please join her for our September PNSQC Meetup, where she will be sharing a "Roadmap to becoming an Impactful QA Engineer." Read more and sign up here to attend online or in person.