https://bpdtsinsights.blog.gov.uk/2020/02/07/on-the-spot-senior-test-engineer-lisa-overall/

Software test engineering: an insider's view

As part of our Services Week 2020 posts, we're introducing our On the Spot interviews. The series celebrates our people's diversity of experience, competencies, and passion for everything digital.

Senior Test Engineer, Lisa Overall, is passionate about engineering and the North of England. Although Lisa is originally from the North, she spent much of her youth living abroad in Antigua, the Cayman Islands, and the Middle East. Travelling around the world opened Lisa's eyes to cultural diversity. It also fuelled her enthusiasm for meeting new people.

After spending 5 years working in the travel sector, Lisa moved in another direction – in life and geographically. Inspired by her father who was a telecoms engineer with Cable and Wireless, she charted her path in engineering.

Lisa Overall, Senior Test Engineer, BPDTS
Lisa Overall, Senior Test Engineer at BPDTS.

A cradle of engineering innovation

Lisa takes immense pride in her work as an engineer working in the North of England. She's quick to point out how the area is a hotbed of innovation. And it's true; it lays claim to a wealth of notable technological figures and inventions, including;

  • George Stephenson, a British civil and mechanical engineer, is known as the "Father of Railways." Stephenson's engineering prowess propelled Britain into a dominant position for a century.
  • Joseph Swan illuminated the world with his intelligence and original lightbulb. Swan first demonstrated his innovative bulb at a lecture in Newcastle.
  • The Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS) at Bletchley Park was vital to the Allied victory in World War Two. The expertise developed at Bletchley Park carried over into what is now known as the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ).

For Lisa, returning to the North East and taking up the engineering mantle, were like coming home – personally and professionally. Engineering is in her DNA, and she is immensely proud to be part of its vibrancy.

In our On the Spot interview, we get to learn more about Lisa:

Tell us about your role.

I'm a Senior Test Engineer working within an Agile team of Software & Test Engineers on the Document Repository System (DRS) and Event Service Project(s) for the DWP Electronic Document Records Management System (EDRMS) customer.

How did you end up here?

When I was at a boarding school in Darlington, I chose to leave (much to my parents' despair) at the age of 16. At that time, I was living with my parents in London. I joined the local youth training scheme (YTS) as a Travel Agent in Harrow. A year later, I moved to the North East to work for Callers Pegasus/Courtney Airsavers as Travel Agent in Newcastle.

After 5 years in the travel sector, I realised I needed to further my career by continuing my education. Initially, I wanted to stay in the travel and tourism industry. I completed 2 access courses: one in English and the other in Computing. The computing course changed the direction of my life. I moved into higher education at Sunderland University, where I completed a Computer Studies course.

After contracting for a while, I ended up working for ITSA at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). From there, I moved to EDS, then transferred to HP. In 2018, I transitioned from HP to BPDTS.

Who or what inspires you and your work?

I am inspired by my father, who was a telecoms engineer for Cable and Wireless. The technology industry is a marvel to me, too. It never stops changing. Working in the technology sector challenges me to do my best every day – especially as a female engineer.

What's your favourite BPDTS project, and why?

It isn't easy to choose one project over another; I enjoy them all. If I had to single one out, I'd choose the Document Repository System (DRS), where I was the first BPDTS Senior Test Engineer. It was a pioneering migration project for me. The people working on the project were all excellent people – incredibly competent and a pleasure to work with every day.

Testing is fundamental to any migration strategy. You need to test, test, and test again to make sure all the integration points are working. After the migration project, we adopted an Agile (SCRUM) approach to improving the DRS system. Working as a Senior Test Engineer in this team, we have developed some automation using Selenium Web Driver with Java.

How do you keep up to date with testing best practice?

Learning is a continuous process. In addition to keeping up through online and face-to-face courses, I attend testing community of practice meetings with engineers and testing professionals from different organisations and sectors. Spending time with other professionals is a great way to learn what issues are hot spots and how people are solving problems differently.

Just recently, I attended the February Tech on the Tyne event. While there, I learned how to create data dashboards using Qlik. It was a great hands-on experience. Listening to speakers talking about how they are tackling problems or what tools they use is a fun way to increase both your knowledge and network.

Advice for someone wanting to join BPDTS.

The choice of employers for DevOps and Engineering is vast. Where you choose to work is dependent on what you value. Working in the public sector is hugely satisfying for me; having the chance to unleash my capabilities to benefit millions of people ticks the right boxes.

I like that BPDTS has a caring culture. Here, I am valued as a person and not just an asset or a skill set. BPDTS also goes out of its way to ensure its people can shine and develop. Every day I'm encouraged to give my best. BPDTS gives you the time to improve your confidence and capabilities. In the tech sector, learning never stops, and BPDTS offers ample opportunities to sharpen your T-shaped skills. If that's the kind of experience you want, then BPDTS is a place where you'll want to work.

Top tip for candidates interviewing for positions.

I always say – go for it. Even if you don't meet all the job requirements, apply anyway. There are so many ways to expand your skills here. If you are not sure you are the right person, fill in the application. Every interview you have will build your confidence. You'll get to experience the process, meet people, and expand your network.

Learn more

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