Breakpoint 2021 is a 2-day virtual summit on software quality. We're bringing speakers—dev, QA and open source experts—to talk about how the best engineering teams ship quality software at scale.

Alex Schladebeck is a passionate tester whose favorite topics are quality, agility and humans. She is the CEO and Head of Quality at BREDEX GmbH. In these roles, she supports colleagues, customers and teams on their journey to enhance quality—be it in products, processes or communication. Alex views the world through the curious eyes of a tester and loves learning new things. She shares her knowledge and experience through workshops, coaching sessions and also as a speaker or keynote speaker at conferences.

Can you tell us about your role at BREDEX?

As the Head of Quality, I’m responsible for our strategy—things that we need to learn to be prepared for our customers’ potential quality-related challenges. I work with our community of test consultants and developers to learn and practice techniques, tools and methods. I coach, mentor and teach people within the company and do the same for customers. I love bringing quality topics to new groups of people and consulting them on how to improve. I gather and share ideas at conferences and encourage others to do the same.

Basically, I enable others to improve their quality either directly, or through the support of our test consultants. As one of the company's CEOs, I’m also jointly responsible for the strategy of the whole company and making sure that the people within it are supported and professionally developed. Both of these roles are challenging, and I love them.

Is there a favorite project/side project in testing/tech you’ve worked on recently?

At the moment, I'm focusing on making sure that I and my teams are doing well, despite all the things going on in the world. If anything, my side project is making sure I find some balance between work and the pandemic life that we're living at the moment. I think a lot of people are in the same situation. ;)

Can you give us a sneak-peek into your session for Breakpoint 2021?

I’m going to take a holistic look at quality, and how everyone in the team is responsible for it. When I say holistic, I don’t just mean the quality of the product, but also of the processes and the human interactions within the team. Despite taking a very high-level approach, I will be giving concrete examples of which methods and techniques help teams grow into a better whole, i.e., enhancing team quality.

How crucial is it for anyone in a leadership role to maintain quality across the product, people and processes? Is this an achievable feat?

I think it's important to have the view that these things are linked—and especially for leaders—that how every individual is doing definitely and has an effect on how well processes work and also how good quality is. Software development is a complex field, and so many factors play a role. It is not limited just to whether we're doing enough testing in a project.

If you could go back in time and advise your younger developer/tester self, what would you say?

I actually have an entire talk dedicated to that topic! I think I'd tell myself to do all the things I did, but also to believe in myself more, and to dare to be authentic at all times.

What advice would you give to people who are new to testing?

What has helped me (and continues to help) immensely is being a part of the testing community. There are ways to get involved (conferences, Twitter, Slack groups, meet-ups, etc.), and the people you meet there will help you with everything from specific tool problems to career advice. They might even become your friends!