Tossing out the map

For the past 5 years I have worked at a company that is over 100 years old.  My business group has been ordered to use the waterfall software development process.  Although my current boss along with everyone else in my group impresses the hell out of me on a daily basis, I’ve known for a while that I would be looking for a job when I finished my masters degree.  (A note to CEO’s everywhere:  asking great employees, especially the geeky ones, to innovate with tools from 1995 is a WASTE of everyone’s time.)

In the time that I’ve worked for my current employer, my husband and I have developed an ongoing love affair with America’s Pacific Northwest.  We’ve traveled there many times for business and for fun.  One of the reasons why I submitted my presentation to PNSQC was its locality.  My primary goal was to make as many contacts as possible for the job search I was planning to begin this January.  I had plans to quit my job once New Years arrived, and move to Seattle so I could look for a job.

We <3 the Northwest

So I’ve graduated.  This was supposed to be my need-a-tester? post.  Last year, I made a short list of a few places whose employment prospects really made me drool.  Here are the requirements I had:

  1. location must be Portland, Oregon or Seattle, Washington metro areas
  2. MUST be agile
  3. must have a pro-testing culture
  4. product must have web 2.0 or semantic web features
  5. I must love the product I test so much that I giggle with delight when I use it.
  6. testing must include a pragmatic approach to manual testing and test automation
  7. company must be a place where I can make a significant contribution

The reason why this was supposed to be my need-a-tester post is because I already found a job.  Yes…it IS possible to get a job in this economy.  Not only is it possible, but the job I found fits almost every requirement I had.

The interview process was incredibly rigorous and there were more than a few times when I thought to myself, “there is NO WAY I will get this job.”  I’m not just saying this because I know my new boss reads my blog (Hiiiiii!!)  I’m going from testing a command-line interface to a full-on, Web 2.0, check-this-api-byatch application of epic proportions.  Let’s just say I know a lot more about TestNG and Selenium than I did before my interview.  For those of you on twitter who remember me talking about my “bugs on a plane” testing session, that was part of my job interview.  Not only was I finding bugs on the plane ride home from PNSQC as the power faded on my Mac, but there was a screaming, pretzel-throwing 3-year-old in the seat next to me who did not stop screaming for a full 4.5 hours.

Which requirement in my list was not met?  Unfortunately, I will not be moving to Portland or Seattle, although I still LOVE them both.  I will be moving to Sydney, Australia.

Marlena at the Opera

Say what?!


Australia Day 2010 : Jet Ski 2
Image by muffytyrone via Flickr
Sydney Fireworks
Image by Marv! via Flickr
2007 July - Rodney Fox great White Shark Trip ...
Image by Julian Cohen via Flickr

That Sydney, Australia.

I’ve been hired by Atlassian Software.  Although I applied when they began their campaign to hire 32 engineers for their Sydney office, I was already planning to send them an application.  I did not feel the need to look further because they were already tops on my list, regardless of however much of a longshot I felt it was.

I discovered Atlassian in Spring 2008, during my independant study of Web 2.0/Semantic web concepts when I was studying code coverage tools.  Their tool, Clover, not only shows code coverage, but also creates visualizations based on your source code.  And so it was that yours truly was truly hooked and Atlassian became my top choice for employment.

If you look at Atlassian’s products (most of which are $10 for 10 users, except for Clover. tsk, tsk people.) and read through some of their blogposts, you will see that they meet all of my other requirements.  Atlassian has something special going on, and I’m not the only one to have noticed.  It starts with, of all things, their core values and shows up in the quality of the products they create and their almost fanatical user base.  They have the most holistic approach to software I think I have ever seen and, although I haven’t seen their numbers because they aren’t public, they seem to have some pretty good profit margins.  So far, they appear to be winning with integrity. I’m being a bit cheeky here because this is my blog, but if I were running a company, this is how I would approach it.

I’m taking my well-planned out map of a future in the Pacific Northwest and tossing it out for an opportunity to work at a company who’s software made me reconsider what I thought was even possible for software development and also for testing.  It’s a place where I feel the best of my many crazy ideas will be encouraged.

Over the next month, I’ll be selling my stuff, filling out more paperwork and tieing things up in the States.  Working for a company as great as Atlassian and living in a city where everyone, including my new boss, runs around in flip-flops will be challenging, but I will try to manage.  Not to say that this won’t be the most challenging job EVAR, and I won’t totally be working my toucas off in the coming year…but, excuse me while I go look for my 50+ sunscreen…

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20 thoughts on “Tossing out the map”

  1. YAY! Congrats. Can I just say that as happy as I am for you I am very bummed out that you won’t be living close enough to come have dinner at my place on a regular basis.

    It is so encouraging for me at the start of my search to see what an amazing result you’ve had. You DESERVE this! You are going to make Atlassian so glad the hired you and I can’t wait to see what you are able to do there!

    Absolutely amazing to see your hard work result in this amazing change. Well done!

  2. Congratulations! That’s wonderful.

    Wow, that is an enormous tree. Whereabouts in the Pacific Northwest was that taken? I share your love for the area — the redwoods of N California were truly stunning and I have been itching to go back.

  3. Thanks guys! Your comments mean a lot.

    The picture is from our hike up to Mt. Constitution when we stayed on Orcas Island in Washington state. This state park is well worth a visit. We camped out there for nearly a week a few years ago.

  4. That really is wonderful news. I have read the greatest things about Atlassian and have used their QA Engineer job description as a template for my own searches for a while now.

    I cannot wait to hear more form you, so we can all see how good it can be, and just how awesome of an impact a shift in fundamental integrity has on a team and its product.

    What a huge move, but how exciting at the same time. You’ve got the support of a huge network, so let us know if we can do anything to help with the transition.

  5. Congratulations! Wowee! I haven’t used Atlassian’s products a whole lot myself, but have heard good things about them. I do like Jira, Greenhopper and Confluence wiki pretty well. And if they are smart enough to hire you, they must be brilliant! What a wonderful opportunity to move to Australia – I don’t think they let just anyone in! ;-> There is such a great agile/testing/dev community there. (You mention your husband wanted to go to Pacific Northwest also so I assume he is also thrilled to go to Oz instead!)

    I look forward to hearing about your adventures – both in software testing, and otherwise!

  6. Looking forward to working with you, Marlena!

    PS. I worked in Seattle for 2.5 years. You’re not missing anything – Sydney’s far better :-)

  7. Hi Marlena,

    Congrats on the job at Atlassian, great guys and gals :)
    I got to hang out with them alot when I was in Sydney for 11 months last year. (I’m with ThoughtWorks)

    Good company choice :)

    I spent 5 years in Seattle (at Redmond in particular).
    Nice place, but personally, Sydney is better :)
    Alot more challenging opportunities. I find Seattle’s software business is one of the following- MS, Amazon, Google (Kirkland), Expedia (imagine a company run like MS was in 1995 (not surprising though, it was a division of MS)), Sun or a bunch of small startups.

    ps. I love Atlassian’s mission statement, and they have nice and strong recruiting mechanisms that ensure they have really technically strong people. Its a credit to them. You wont be working with buffoons.

  8. Thanks for the welcome guys! I am really feeling the blog love today.

    As for Sydney vs. Seattle – I ain’t gonna compare. Too many good times in the forest I suppose.

    One thing that hasn’t shown up on the blog is that my husband and I are into caving which you may know as spelunking. (Hauling myself out of a pit that’s 100 feet/30 meters deep makes problems at the office seem so much smaller.) We can’t wait to hook up with the cavers in Sydney and see what Australia has on offer!

  9. Hi Marlena,

    Love the blog post!
    Looking forward to having you start with us soon. I’m going to have to give this ‘spelunking’ you talk about a bit of research..

  10. Congrats on the new job.

    The history behind this story is spookily similar to my own very recent experience, except I’m already in Sydney and will be joining a slightly different company.

    Get ye to a SyXPAC meeting when you arrive!

  11. Oh yeah…my husband reminds me of that all the time. We’re bringing all of our outdoor stuff and our “Lord of the Rings” dvds. Meanwhile, I think I’m gonna go drool over these pictures some more. Thx!

  12. Congrats on the job, and welcome to Australia! If you’re missing big trees too much you should come visit Tassie some time. ;)

  13. Great post and welcome on board Marlena! Can’t wait to have you down in Sydney – it’s wonderful to see people so passionate about joining us before they’ve even started.

    If anything here doesn’t meet up to the hype, come see me ;)


  14. I’m a bit conflicted on the flip-flops vs. thongs issue. You see, in the U.S., this is a thong. I believe y’all refer to those as “pants.” No matter, I shall be happy to wear them to the office ((pants AND flip-flops) OR (trousers AND thongs)).

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