Chris Kenst – AST 2018 Board Candidate Questions and Answers

1. How do you intend to promote diversity within the AST? How could AST promote diversity, of all kinds, within our own organization and within the wider testing and technology communities?
The best way to promote diversity within the AST is to ensure we are actively looking to include people from as many ethnic, cultural, economic and social backgrounds to become members. The more diverse our member population, the greater the chance for diversity of thought, for inclusion in programs and conferences and eventually for nomination to our board of directors. This foundation makes it easier to promote diversity to the wider testing and technology communities as we become an exemplar for how communities can and should be run.
To start we need to understand how diverse (or not) our current member base is and from there understand if there are any there systematic problems within AST that might stop or put off those people from diverse backgrounds from becoming active, valued members. Along the way we might figure out we need to adapt by providing more scholarships, adjusting our membership model, or partnering with organizations or communities that we can learn from. Either way the journey is worth the effort.
2. Please share your vision for the future of the AST’s BBST program.
I love the BBST program, it’s why I became an instructor! I think there are a number of things we can do both with the AST-BBST program and beyond.
First, with AST-BBST there are some cost-effective updates and customizations we can make to bring them in line / up to date with the latest materials in the BBST Workbooks. We should update many of the materials as necessary (slides, handouts) to highlight the fact these are AST’s versions of the materials (branding as well as teaching updates) in order to differentiate us from competitors -> I often like to say “BBST is the only university level education on software testing”. We might also want to include additional recommended readings that are more relevant or related along with some follow up activities things to do after your class is over.
Our classes are quite popular and could use more dedicated instructors. We should be tapping some of our top students to take the instructor classes and do what we can to support them. Supporting instructors might mean providing more training and tools to help reduce the burden of teaching, providing better fieldstones (or showing instructors how to use them), setting sufficient grading or communication standards, etc. This could be done in a fun collaborative way and might bring back former instructors into the fold.
Second, we should begin to develop a teaching program outside of the BBST namespace that allows us to focus on skills and areas that are in demand or underserved. For example having a course on the basics of Test Automation (using oracles in test automation) which doesn’t focus on a particular tool or framework would be hugely valuable. Another example might be developing a course on Mobile App Testing (this might be even better because it could focus on both ET and automated testing).
3. What do you think the AST board has historically done well, and what do you think needs to change?
Historically the board has done well maintaining what the AST already has and slowly growing it. A good example of this is we now have an additional CAST conference each year called CASTx which gives more people more chances to learn and develop software testing skills.
However we need to change and accelerate what the AST board is able to do. Part of that is going to be figuring out how to reduce bottlenecks. I know from experience there are only a few board members who know how to do deal with the most common problems such as infrastructure, classroom or billing issues. Whatever the solution (automate more processes, make sure more board members or volunteers are trained, etc) we need to make sure large parts of the org aren’t dependent on one or two people. Another part of accelerating the board (which will then accelerate the AST as a whole) is figuring out how to be scrappy and get by on our limited resources. What can we focus on that will have the highest impact?
4. If you are elected to serve on the board, what is your vision for the future of AST and what do you hope to accomplish as part of the board?
The AST has real value in advocating for education and skill development in software testing for anyone within the software field (not just those in software testing roles). Many people join the AST to learn at CAST or take one of our BBST courses. This means the AST is already a leader for some types of education and skill development. Now I want to take that further.
In the short term (first year or so) I would put a priority on outlining and implementing new updates to our existing AST-BBST classes. These are our bread and butter (so to speak) so let’s bring them up to date and do what we can to also help out our existing instructors manage these classes better / more efficiently. I’d like get a few volunteers to help manage our existing Webinar program so we can increase the frequency of our guests and possibly begin holding discussion panels in addition to the lectures / presentations we have now.
Longer term, like I said before, I want to take our education further by building a new course series outside of the AST-BBST namespace so we can retain or attract a whole new group of individuals and help them develop or expand their skills in areas of software testing not already covered (or covered well) by the market. I’d also like to see us expand our marketing to attract more people from the greater software development community to join the AST and possibly take classes. This might include sponsoring more more events to increase the AST’s awareness around the world and in different communities.
5. Many people come to be AST Board of Directors candidates through a long history of community involvement. This community involvement usually involves teaching, creating and running peer conferences, creating and running regular conferences, and working with commercial entities.
These are all wonderful and valuable activities, but they might create conflicts for board members. One problem is that a board member spending time helping a personal conference to thrive means less or no time spent on AST events. The other problem, and the more important one, is that knowing program and financial information of a personal event will affect decisions made for AST events and initiatives and vice versa.
Please describe any current initiatives you participate in that might affect your ability to serve on the AST board, and serve the AST membership.
Most of my involvement in the testing community is through or revolves around the AST so I don’t see any potential conflicts of interest. Boom!
6. (Optional) Would you like to provide a short (250-400 word) introduction to go on your candidate page?
Chris Kenst is a Test Automation Engineer at BloomNation working to help them accelerate the achievement of shippable quality. Chris has been an AST member since 2012, a lifetime member since 2017 and currently runs the AST webinar program and is a lead AST-BBST Instructor. This is his second time running for the board because if at first you don’t succeed…
Chris will be presenting his first workshop at CAST this year with his friend Dwayne Green on Domain Testing (the test technique). He has a passion for teaching and mentoring others which is why he initially became a volunteer BBST instructor. More recently he has stepped into giving workshops and talks to share what he has learned about software testing to everyone within software development.
Outside of AST, Chris maintains an open source list of conferences at Testingconferences.org and writes regularly on his blog at Kenst.com. You’ll often find him on twitter talking about software or testing and on any number of testing and quality related slack channels helping others. He’s also an avid Scuba Diver and underwater photographer!