Open post Blog Title: You Can Get There from Here - Getting the skills you need for the job you want. Image: Several people in the forefront and background helping each other scale the side of a shadowed mountain side.

Getting the Skills You Need for the Position You Want

3 Things You Must Start Doing When You Become a Team Leader

What’s standing in between you and your dream job? It’s probably less than you think. If you are interested in gaining skills for your career development  - stick around! We've got some unconventional ideas for how you can gain the skills you need for the position you want.

Check out this list of some ways that you can get the experience and skills you’re missing...without having to get another degree.

Volunteering

You can find volunteer opportunities in pretty much any area. There are many sites that help connect you with positions in your area, such as volunteermatch.org and justserve.org.

Benefits of volunteering:

Develop soft skills

Through volunteering, you will develop many soft skills that are transferable to your next job. Some of these skills might include time management, communication, and empathy.

So, while it might be better, for career development purposes, to volunteer in a relevant industry, any volunteer experience you have is going to make you a better candidate for most jobs.

Give back to the community

Volunteering is a great way to get involved in your local community and give back. When you volunteer, you really do make a meaningful difference in the lives of others.

Helping others is a great thing to do, and this will be reflected in your own sense of purpose and happiness. It also shows potential employers that you care about your community and the people in it, which speaks to your character.

Get relevant work experience

Volunteer experience is extremely valuable to hiring managers. In fact, in a survey by Deloitte, 82 percent of hiring managers said they were more likely to choose candidates with relevant volunteer experience.

What’s more, 85 percent said that they would be more willing to overlook other resume flaws if a candidate had volunteer experience.

Volunteering is a very helpful way for you to get experience related to your desired job. It’s also a great way to learn more about the industry you’re interested in going into.

And it helps you stand out on a resume by showing that you are dedicated to your field and helping make your community a better place.

Learn more about yourself

Volunteering is a great way to learn about yourself and your interests. Through volunteering, you might discover types of work that you really like, as well as work that you want to avoid in the future.

Volunteering is a fantastic way to explore some of your interests and test out if they are something you would like to pursue in the future.

Make connections

The people you meet while volunteering are likely to have similar interests and passions as you, and possibly similar career paths. This provides a great opportunity to discuss your goals and ideas, as well as build strong relationships.

Some of the people you meet might even be able to provide you with a great reference or share opportunities with you in the future.

Webinars 

Benefits of attending webinars:

Get up to speed and stay up to date

With our world full of technology, it can be tough to stay updated on the latest in your industry. But going out of your way to do so will be to your benefit. It helps you stay competitive in the job market.

In addition, it will make you a lifelong learner. Being a lifelong learner is not only good for your career development, but also for your brain and for your well-being.

Because webinars are so plentiful, and they often focus on topics that are current and relevant, they are a fantastic tool for staying up to date in your industry.

Flexible and convenient

A big draw of webinars is that they are so convenient. Because they are online, you don’t have to travel to attend one. This alone can save you large amounts of time and money. On top of that, many of them are available for a low cost or for free.

Additionally, the options for webinars are pretty much limitless. You can find an endless selection of live and recorded webinars online.

With so many different ones out there, you are bound to find some that will be useful to you, and that will work with your schedule. There are many websites that put together lists of upcoming webinars, so you can easily find ones that will be relevant to you.

Networking

You’re attending a webinar because you are hoping to stay up to date with current industry news and skills. And because you’re interested in the content. Well, so is everyone else there!

Webinars provide a great opportunity to meet and interact with like-minded people and build new professional connections. Don’t be shy to speak up if you have a question, a thought you want to discuss, or if someone else has a great idea you want to hear more about.

Most open positions aren’t even posted online, they are filled through networking and internal referrals. So, putting yourself out there can lead to opportunities that aren’t even being advertised, increasing the likelihood that you will find the role you’ve been wanting.

Easy access to recordings

Ever attended a seminar or lecture that you thought was interesting, but after a week went by you struggled to recall all the important details? Fortunately, since webinars are often recorded, you likely be able to find a link to them.

This feature of webinars is definitely a part of their appeal. Since they are recorded, you don’t have to worry about taking amazing notes, and can put more energy into actively participating in the dialogue. You can always go back and re-watch points that you missed or need to reinforce your understanding of.

Online Courses

Benefits of taking online courses:

Low-cost 

There are several websites that offer low-cost or free online courses. This makes them a great and accessible alternative to taking in-person classes at your local university.

You can find these on sites such as LinkedIn LearningCoursera, HubSpot, and Google Digital Garage - or simply by searching “free online courses”.

High-quality

Many online courses are offered by highly regarded and prestigious institutions. They are well-designed to help students learn most effectively.

Through these classes, you’ll have access to instructors who are experts in the field and can gain critical knowledge from them.

You stand out

Taking online courses in your own time demonstrates that you are motivated to learn and improve your skills. It shows that you are willing to take the initiative and go that extra mile to achieve your goals.

It also communicates that you have a genuine interest in the subject matter. These are qualities that are highly desirable to employers and will make you stand out as a great candidate.

Gain experiences you can highlight on your resume

Often in online courses, they will ask you to put together a project or presentation to demonstrate what you’ve learned in the course. When completing these assignments, it is important that you don't phone them in.

They may seem low-stakes and irrelevant to your career, but the more effort you put into them, the greater the benefit will be to you later.

These kinds of projects are great talking points in an application or interview. By including details about your experience with the course, you can prove that it was worthwhile and that you went above and beyond. This can bolster your application.

Courses can be as specific as you need

At a college or university program, your options for courses might be limited. You might need to complete certain courses that are graduation requirements, even if they are not necessarily relevant to your future career.

But with online courses, you can pretty much find any course you need. Everything on the web is available to you. Courses can be as general as an introduction to finance, or as specific as an in-depth guide to Microsoft Excel.

Gain credentials

Upon completion of the webinar or online course, they often give you a certificate. This is great because it is something specific to put on a resume that shows you have been working on your skills.

This can help to make up for where you are lacking in work experience or other credentials.

Convenient 

In addition, if you’re looking for a particular course, you might be out of luck due to scheduling conflicts or availability issues.

However, with online courses, there are so many options. In addition, they are often self-paced, so you can make them work for your schedule.

Mentorship

Mentorship is a long-term professional relationship that can benefit both people involved.

To choose a mentor, think about someone who you admire and whose career you take inspiration from. They can be a mutual friend, a family member, a past manager, or anyone else in your circle.

When you’ve found someone who you think would make a suitable mentor, schedule a meeting with them to explain the guidance you’re seeking and why you’d like them to be your mentor.

Understand that not everyone will be able to take on the time commitment that comes with being a mentor, but you are likely to find someone who has both the availability and the enthusiasm to assume this role.

Benefits of mentorships:

What a mentor can help you with:

Help you set and achieve your goals

You might not know how to turn your aspirations into reality, but a mentor can give you insights and ideas that may not have crossed your mind. They have a different perspective and can see things from a different vantage point.

A mentor can help you set goals, offering guidance and advice for your career growth. They have helpful knowledge about what it will take to get to where you are going from where you are.

They can also hold you accountable, and make sure that you are making progress toward your goals.  A mentor will also support you, providing encouragement along the way. One big benefit of having a mentor is that you don’t have to work toward your goals alone.

Help you connect to the right people or opportunities

Your mentor is a powerful connection to have. They probably know many people who would be great for you to work with. Your mentor will get to know you, and your goals, interests, and experience. Thus, they will be in a great position to connect you with just the opportunities you need to take the next step in your career.

Provides constructive feedback

Because mentorship is a professional relationship, mentors will be in a better place to provide you with constructive feedback than your close friends or family may be. Constructive feedback is important because it allows you to learn things about yourself that might not otherwise learn - the good and the less good.

Accolades are always easy to receive, but sometimes it's hard to hear improvements are needed. Both of these sets of feedback are important and necessary for your professional growth.

There is value in all of the feedback you receive. It's good to get an outside perspective, and within the mentorship, it should always be kind and helpful.

What you can help a mentor with:

Allows them to strengthen their knowledge

You might think that your lack of experience means that you have nothing to teach your mentor, but this is not true. As someone with an interest in their field and with a drive to learn more about it, you are a great person for them to exchange ideas and insights.

You also come from a different background from them, which means that you offer a unique perspective. In addition, teaching others is a great way for them to solidify and strengthen their knowledge.

Enhances their leadership skills

Being a mentor is a leadership role. They serve as a guide to help you achieve your goals. In doing this, they learn more about how to be a successful leader. If they are able to be a mentor, they show that they are effective in managing and helping others.

Leadership skills are extremely valuable in pretty much any career. The mentor can use these skills that they’ve acquired with you to further their career.

Helps establish them as experts in their industry

A mentorship shows that they have valuable knowledge to share, and also that they are willing to help others grow their knowledge and succeed in the industry.

This demonstrates that they are experts in their field and that others have a lot to learn from them. Being a mentor will add to their qualifications, and help them stand out in an application, or when looking for a promotion.

What you can help each other with:

Exchange ideas

Ideally, you and your mentor will share common interests. This means they will be a great person to talk to and bounce ideas off. Exchanging ideas with another motivated professional is a great way to stimulate creativity. In addition, it will help keep your interest and desire to succeed in the field alive.

The takeaway

The main lesson that we hope you take away from this is that whatever is holding you back from your goals, there’s a workaround. You have options.

With a little determination, resourcefulness, and support from others along the way, you can close the gap between your current qualifications and those needed to secure your dream job.

 

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Open post Education in Our Digitized World

Education in Our Digitized World

3 Things You Must Start Doing When You Become a Team Leader

Academia is one of our most important institutions, vital to our ability to understand the world and how we fit into it. On a national level, education bolsters our democracy by allowing us firsthand accounts of the past. This makes it so we can can copy what worked well and avoid what didn’t.

Threats to our democracy

Currently, a major threat to our democracy is the spread of misinformation, escalating at lightning speed through social media. Through the pandemic, we have all experienced just how prevalent misinformation can be, and the danger it poses.

In recent years, misinformation has run rampant on many different platforms, all over the world. A study by MIT found that false information is 70% more likely to be retweeted than true information. This is probably because people are drawn to information that is shocking and sensational, as false information is often presented.

Misinformation can have debilitating effects. For evidence, you need only look to the countless fake, and often dangerous coronavirus cures sprouting up all over social media. Drinking bleach will not ward off covid, but it will likely get you a stay in the hospital.

While this is certainly a very extreme example, even more subtle misinformation can have severe consequences. It can compel people to buy faulty products, lead to increased political polarization, and cause distrust of science. It undermines truth and threatens democracy. So, what can be done to combat misinformation?

It starts with education

One of the most powerful tools we have to combat misinformation is critical thinking. Education plays a crucial role in developing this skill. On a personal level, education is key, not only, to success, but true growth. In an ideal world, this would foster a sense of curiosity and a drive for excellence.

For some students, our current system of education accomplishes this, but our institutions fail many more in the process. Read on to discover ways that schools and institutions are working to improve education and the role that technology plays in this.

Critical thinking is essential

High-quality education doesn’t just rely on reciting facts; it pushes students to analyze, question, contemplate, connect, criticize, and expand. It doesn’t tell students what to think but teaches them how to think. With a strong background in critical thinking and comfort with research, people are much less susceptible to misinformation.

Unfortunately, sometimes memorization producing correct answers are prioritized at the expense of developing more expansive thinking skills. Because digitized education can adapt to meet the needs of individual students, it could be a helpful tool for developing critical thinking skills. There are even virtual educational resources that directly work to teach students how to identify false information.

The role of technology

In Bill Gates’ end-of-year post, he predicts that the future of education will be increasingly digitized. “Unlike offices, schools will go back to only in-person instruction except maybe for some limited remote options for older high school students. What will change, though, is how we use digital tools to enhance the way kids learn.” Additionally, he states that “we’re starting to see that curriculum become more responsive as demand goes up, and it will only become more tailored to the individual needs of students and teachers in the years ahead. The intention is that these new tools will supplement classroom learning rather than replace it.”

While in-person instruction is necessary, digital tools have the potential to better personalize education and push students to think more deeply. Technology also has the potential to greatly increase access to high-quality education.

Addressing inequality in education

In a separate post, Gates cites that algebra is the most failed course in high school. He explains that this is extremely problematic because it's also one of the biggest predictors of future success. “Students who pass Algebra 1 by the end of 9th grade open the door to advanced STEM courses and AP classes, and are more likely to enroll in college, graduate with a bachelor’s degree, and go on to well-paid, in-demand careers,” he relays.

In addition, this is an obstacle that disproportionately affects people from marginalized communities, such as Black, Latino, and ELL students, as well as students experiencing poverty. The Gates Foundation recently funded 11 organizations, each taking a unique approach to combat this issue all around the globe.

Interactive learning

One of these organizations that he highlights is Zearn, an educational nonprofit that is behind the widely used Zearn Math curriculum for elementary schools. Through collaboration with students, they are working to develop a middle school curriculum that will promote inclusivity and set students up for success in Algebra 1. Their goal is to make this preparation more engaging by providing a dynamic and interactive learning experience that will help students make sense of the information.

Overall, by pushing our global educational institutions to be better, we can improve the lives of millions. Misinformation poses a constant threat to our everyday lives, and on a broader level, to our democracy. But we can combat this threat through high-quality education that places emphasis on critical thinking skills.

Educational companies and foundations, especially those focusing on pushing educational technologies forward and on increasing the accessibility of high-quality education, will play a crucial role in the development of younger generations.

 

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Soft Skills: A Testament to Your Personal Development

3 Things You Must Start Doing When You Become a Team Leader

When building your resume, you may naturally place emphasis on your technical skills—those relating directly to tasks you’ll be performing on the job. Technical skills are undoubtedly important, as they can demonstrate your experience and capabilities. They show what you can do. However, it’s also important to include soft skills on your resume. Soft skills are attributes that enable you to interact effectively and harmoniously with others. They are crucial for workplace success.

Soft skills are often related to your attitude and intuitions. They are less about qualifications and more based on the status of your personal development. As technology advances and jobs become increasingly more automated, having interpersonal skills that computers can’t match becomes even more essential. In this article, we will discuss six of the most important soft skills. We'll talk about they can make you more successful not only in your workplace but within your life.

Organization

Organizational skills can include attention to detail, persistence, and time management. The ability to maintain organized and efficient operations is extremely important. If someone has great technical capabilities but is frequently disorganized, they will be unlikely to live up to their full potential at work. Strong organizational skills demonstrate a commitment to carrying out tasks and duties in a timely manner, with a focus on quality.

Problem-solving

Problem-solving skills involve using creativity in order to resolve issues or perform tasks more efficiently. This is much valued by employers. A workplace full of strong problem-solvers is likely to run smoothly and remain unharmed by any minor hiccups. Problem-solving also means being innovative, and new ideas are valuable to any workspace.

Teamwork

Most employees work as part of a team, and even those who work ‘alone’ need to collaborate with other employees at some point. Being able to engage in productive collaboration is extremely valuable. If you’ve ever worked on a team or group project where some of the members were clearly not eager to work together, you have seen how difficult it can be.

People who are skilled at working in a team appreciate the value of joining forces with others in order to accomplish shared goals. They know when to delegate, and how to allow each person to contribute in ways that play to their unique strengths. Strong teamwork skills will make your life, and the lives of your team members so much easier.

Communication

Whether verbal or written, good communication skills can help you in all aspects of your career. Being able to communicate well means being skilled at delivering your message to others in a wide range of situations. Sometimes, you may need to communicate ideas that are uncomfortable or unpleasant. Conveying these messages tactfully and without creating conflict is an extremely desirable attribute that employers value.

Also essential to strong communication is the ability to listen actively and attentively. Being a good listener is crucial because it will help you respond more appropriately and will also help your co-workers/employers/employees see that you value and appreciate their ideas.

Adaptability

Being adaptable means being able to adjust and perform well under a variety of different conditions. Flexible employees often refine processes and identify new ideas for a business to explore. In any job (but especially in technology-driven fields or startups), changes occur unexpectedly. Being able to work with these changes and adjust quickly is extremely desirable for employers.

Adaptability can even make up for a lack of technical skills in some situations. For example, if you have never worked with the computer system that your job uses, but you are adaptable, employers may disregard your lack of experience because they see that you are motivated to learn, and know that your technical skills will follow.

Empathy

Empathy is simply the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. With that insight, you become better adept to support others through challenging situations. Empathy is an essential human characteristic, and can also be very beneficial in the workplace, as it can enable you to resolve conflicts, build more productive and collaborative teams, and improve relationships with co-workers, clients, and customers.

If after reviewing this list, you are concerned that you may not be as strong in some of these skills as you could be, don’t worry. Even though soft skills are not taught formally in a course or class, they can be developed and fostered through self-reflection and the observation of others. Remaining proactive with your personal development will increase your emotional intelligence which will significantly impact all your relationships for the better, not only the ones at work but across all facets of your life.

 

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Open post Shows a remote-work setup with laptop open, plant, and lamp. Text: Communication with Remote and Hybrid Teams - The 3 C's

Communication With Remote and Hybrid Teams – The 3 C’s

Shows a remote-work setup with laptop open, plant, and lamp. Text: Communication with Remote and Hybrid Teams - The 3 C's

As discussed at the most recent QASIG event, the importance of effective communication in distributed environments cannot be stressed enough. Being able to communicate effectively with your team is essential to the team's success. And in a remote or hybrid environment — with asynchronous schedules and numerous channels for communication — it’s more important than ever to make sure that everyone is on the same page. The best way to ensure strong communication is to be clear, concise, and consistent.

Aim for Clarity

When you’re communicating virtually, it’s important that you take extra care to make sure that your point comes across effectively. You obviously know what you’re trying to say. This can make it easy to forget that whoever you’re communicating with is coming in with a completely different understanding than you. Before you send a message, you should take a moment to make sure that what you’re saying is clear. It is also important to decide how best to communicate with each member of your team. The best method might change depending on the situation or person. Depending on the task, it may be more efficient to explain it over a phone call or video call than in an email. Sometimes it might be necessary to provide examples of what you are looking for to get your message across.

Keep it Concise

Sometimes with communication, less is more. This does not mean you should check in less frequently with your team members, just that you should not overload them with unnecessary information. Keep your messages simple by taking out filler words and using familiar language. Being intentional about your formatting can also help to keep messages concise. You can make use of bolding, bullet points, and headings to highlight vital information. These tools will minimize the points that get lost in translation.

Be Consistent

When it comes to communication, consistency is key. You’ll first need to establish which tools your team will use for communication, such as email, video conferencing software, or chat platforms. Make sure to communicate on a regular basis. It's also a good idea to discuss communication strategies regularly with your whole team to make sure everyone is up-to-speed. You may want to make a set communication schedule, depending on your specific situation or deadlines. It’s also important to consider timing. With some working asynchronously, you will need to acknowledge everyone’s availability. Your team may not all be online at the same time. But finding times to check in with your team members is vital for team cohesion and growth.

The importance of, not only maintaining business relationships but fostering them cannot be stressed enough. The same is true of any relationship. Investing in a relationship of any sort requires intention, effort, and time, but it is exactly that – an investment. Building a symbiotic community takes time, but by communicating effectively with the tips above, you will be well on your way to fostering the relationships in your communities, work-related or personal.

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Open post Image for Upskilling and Reskilling Article, image of library

Upskilling and Reskilling: The Secret to Staying Ahead of the Competition in Hiring and Brand Reputation

Image for Upskilling and Reskilling Article, image of library

More than half – 56 percent – of organizations believe they have a moderate to severe skills gap today, and 60 percent of employees believe that, to some extent, their current skill set will become outdated in the next three to five years. A commitment to Upskilling and Reskilling employees is quickly becoming the best path to overcoming skills gaps.

What is Upskilling and Reskilling?

Upskilling is learning new skills to optimize performance. Organizations upskill their employees to help them gain new skills and experience to stay relevant or move into a higher position. Whereas reskilling helps employees learn new skills to take up a new role within the same organization. Reskilling is more focused on training employees for a new position.

Benefits of Upskilling or Reskilling

Stay Competitive and Improve Employee Retention

Employees want learning and development opportunities to help them stay relevant in their role as well as position them for advancement. Providing a pathway for skills development motivates employees. Making them feel valued and supported, increasing their likelihood to stay with your organization long term. Upskilling and reskilling team members also helps keep companies competitive and shows that they are motivated to invest in the professional development of their employees.

Improve Morale and Productivity

Training and development opportunities help employees move forward on their career path and helps them envision their future with the organization, improving morale. Across teams, efficiency and productivity is improved, paving the way for increased satisfaction and strengthening your company’s competitive edge.

Attracts Great Talent

As word of your commitment to upskilling and reskilling spreads, your reputation in the eyes of your employees and the wider talent market improves. 91% of the millennials indicated that they preferred career development to any other benefit when choosing to join a company. By offering the right mix of upskill and reskill opportunities, employees who are motivated to keep learning and growing are motivated to stay and great talent with a similar mindset is encouraged to join.

Reduces Hiring Costs

Hiring is costly, from one-half to two times the employee’s annual salary. A measurable advantage of upskilling and reskilling is that it reduces hiring efforts to search for a specialist in a field. It is a much smaller investment compared to the cost of the recruitment process for hiring a new employee.

Upskilling and reskilling can help your company secure the right people with the right skills that you need to compete today while providing flexibility to arm team members with the necessary skills needed in the future. This attention reduces the need to look outside for talent with specific skillsets, saving time and hiring costs and allows for continuity among team members when it comes to proprietary company knowledge that would have otherwise walked right out the door.

How to Upskill and Reskill Employees?

Online Courses/Webinars

Remote learning is the most popular way to upskill and reskill during the current times when most employees are working from home. Online courses can be free or paid, and most of them provide a certificate at the end of the course. Investing in online classes allows you to upskill employees regardless of their location and time zone.

Classroom Training

Organizations can also upskill employees in a traditional classroom setting. They can hire trainers or institutes to share ideas and teach new skills and software to their employees. However, with the project deadlines, work commitments, and remote working, it becomes less feasible to attend scheduled training on the allocated day, time, and location.

Mentors

Mentorship programs within the organization are another great way to upskill employees. Subject matter experts (SMEs) from different areas can pair with employees to share new skills. This helps companies to leverage their existing talent to meet future requirements. Mentorship programs come in various forms and can be customized based on the upskilling or reskilling needs.

Pioneer companies are aware of the changing technological demands of the workplace. Last year, Amazon announced it would be dedicating $700 million to provide 100,000 employees access to upskilling training programs. In comparison, salesforce pledged to train 500,000 Americans with the skills they need to earn Salesforce credentials. Analyzing what skills are missing across the organization and upskilling or reskilling employees based on those skills will help create a growth-focused culture and continuous learning.

 

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Wednesday, 11/15, November QASIG Meeting

View details and register at QASIG.org

For our last meeting of the year, we are excited to welcome Penny Allen, from Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI), who is going to share her PNSQC Keynote presentation with us. If you weren’t able to attend PNSQC this year it’s a great opportunity to catch it. Let us know if you can join us!

Quality Engineering 2017: Trends, Tricks, and Traps

The motivation to develop digital experiences faster and better is the centerpiece of the Quality Engineering movement. Said more simply, we have to do even more with even less despite galactic level complexity and consumer expectations.

The question is: How?

We have to evolve our toolset, our techniques, and even our thought processes. In a very real sense, we have to redefine ourselves and our craft and we have to do it NOW before the choices are made for us.

In this talk, we’ll look at the different ways QA teams are adapting to their new reality: everything from service virtualization to contract testing to blue/green deploys. We’ll explore tools and techniques that worked and a few that failed. We’ll look at the trends driving mobile development, platform development, and cloud engineering with a very specific eye on keeping quality at the forefront of every effort.

My goal is to arm you with the knowledge necessary to start your own revolution and the will to challenge the norm in search of the next, great evolution.

About our speaker:  Penny Allen is the Director, Enterprise Quality Assurance at Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI) and started her technology career as a mission systems engineer for NASA and then decided to try something really challenging: quality assurance! Her fortuitous decision to attempt something new became a hallmark of her career as she explored the expanse of software development with Engineering Leadership roles at companies like Nike and Fiserv.

That passion for continually trying new things brought her to the forefront of the Quality Engineering movement in the age of Continuous Deployment, DevOps, and SAFe. No longer content to watch the same good intentions produce the same mediocre results, Penny dove head first into rebuilding the concept of QA. Telemetry instead of test plans; meaningful data instead of monotonous metrics – the list of opportunities is endless.

In her current role at REI, Penny is building a quality program centered on solid engineering, great people, and the desire to always do a little better than the day before. There is always something novel to try in the quest to build better experiences.

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