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Swarna Jana
インド・ハイデラバード出身。大学ではElectronics and Commmmunications Engineeringを専攻。在学中にIBMに採用され、QAとして入社する。インドおよび日本の複数社で多岐に渡る経験を積んだ後、出産を機に4年間の休業を取得。2018年にQAエンジニアとしてWealthParkに参画し、実績を高く評価されてQAマネージャーに昇格。また、スクラムマスターの資格を持ち、社内のスクラムマスターも兼務する。2012年6月から日本に移住。一児(5歳)の母。


Early job history

Could you share your career history before you joined WealthPark?

I started my career in 2007. During my third year of college, I was recruited by IBM. I am from Hyderabad, a metropolitan city in south India famous as an IT hub, and it is quite common for tech companies over there to recruit college students before their graduation. As soon as I graduated, I joined IBM, which randomly assigned me to testing, QA (Quality Assurance), and I was trained to master different testing techniques as well as obtain testing-related certifications. I eventually became part of a telecommunication project, the client of which is one of the leading telecommunication companies in India, Idea Cellular Limited. I worked as a software engineer responsible for content management of their website.

After three and a half years at IBM, I joined another company called Kony Solutions Pvt Ltd, a product-based company. As a member of their platform team, I was concentrating more on white-box testing for the applications in development before being released to the public, which means I tested the written codes.

Having worked for Kony for one and half years, I had to move to Japan in 2012 as my husband got a job offer here. After I spent the first six months understanding Japanese culture and getting used to a new life, I got a job on contract basis at Futecs KK. I worked as a software developer, developing on a PL/SQL and VB.NET project for almost one and a half years and took a break since I was expecting my first child.

Career at WeatlhPark

Then, you joined WealthPark after you took parental leave?

I was initially planning to take a two-year break, which got extended to four years due to the lack of daycare centers in the neighborhood. When I was ready to get back to work, my recruiter friend, who knows my background and skills well, introduced me to WealthPark. I was looking for a job which would allow me flexible working hours and not require native level Japanese. The first part was more important for me as a working mom with a three-year-old son then, and when we had our first meeting, I was just impressed by the flexibility that WealthPark could offer, including remote work arrangements.

I was also very much motivated by the fact that I will be the only QA Engineer. I thought this would be a good opportunity for me to prove myself because I could try a new process from scratch. For the first couple of months, I carefully tried to understand how things work at WealthPark and gain all the necessary knowledge on the products.

Now you are promoted to QA Manager leading the team. Could you describe your actual work a bit more?

We decided to hire more QA as soon as we realized that we will need more resources to achieve our goals. Now, we are a team of five members: one engineer who is based in Tokyo along with me, and three offshore engineers in Manila. As a QA Lead, I manage this multifunctional team consisting of manual and automation QA Engineers in two locations, who are responsible for testing web and mobile applications as well as various products.

Since we have three offshore engineers who are not physically present here, I am always trying to keep in touch with them and make sure that everything is clear to them. I also serve as a single contact for anything related to QA issues at the company and try to be a good communicator for all other teams as well as clients.

In addition, I’ve been working as Scrum Master. As Scrum Master, I’m responsible for managing the scrum processes in a project called “workflow”. I facilitate daily scrum, sprint planning, sprint demo and retrospective meetings, and keep the communication among the squads good and transparent. Simply put, 80% of the time, I am a QA and the rest 20% I am a Scrum Master.

How did you create your team? How much did you get involved in hiring?

For one of the members, we’ve got a reference from one of the managers. I checked her CV, did a couple of interviews, and made a decision to hire her. For offshore candidates, we used a recruitment agency, which gave us many CVs. What I try to look for in a candidate is their personality and attitude more than the technical skills. I believe “skills can be taught, but attitude is forever.”

I also try to explain a few things to candidates in advance: things might be very chaotic sometimes, and even priorities may change. I want to disclose what challenges we are facing now and what type of difficulties that the candidates will face through this job. It is very important to give them good transparency so that they have a clear understanding of the current situation to decide whether they take or decline an offer from us.

Speaking of hiring, you told me that you were randomly assigned to QA at IBM. Do you think they saw a good QA quality in you back then?

Looking back on the interview with IBM, they also never asked me technical questions. My interview was very casual, and the interviewer and I discussed the current topics and issues in India of that time. They might have seen potential in how I expressed my opinions, but I had no idea why they chose me as QA. Once I started working as QA, I liked it and had no complaints about their decision. At the same time, I always felt the need to update my skills, which is why I voluntarily started learning new automation testing tools such as Selenium and QPT. Even now, my technical knowledge may not always be sufficient to make an optimal decision and I will never stop learning to update and improve myself.

I think the first and best quality that QA should have is being able to detect mistakes that no one else sees. More importantly, our ultimate goal should be to deliver a good product. As you see, QAs try to destroy products as much as possible, which is only because we want to make them perfect when they are delivered to the client. This is what I call “destructive construction”. Both developers and QAs aim the same goal, but we just do it differently.

The importance of communication in management

Do you enjoy your first-time management role in your career?

I do. I love managing things/people, especially the communication part. I think project failures mainly arise from communication gaps. Through my previous jobs, I quite often saw issues because of miscommunication and felt an urge to tell my managers that they should have better and more frequent communications with everyone to share the important information. Now as a manager and Scrum Master, I’m glad that I can keep the transparency in my team.

How do you manage the team offshore and onsite members, especially in terms of communication?

I’m trying to be reachable online anytime and make an environment where members can freely communicate with me. I also share everything on Slack for transparency in the team. WealthPark adopted the Squad system and each project has each squad consisting of a business head, developers, and QAs. The squads meet up occasionally or daily for a 15-minute meeting, and I put anything that we talk at a standup on Slack so that offshore members can catch up too.

How do you communicate with engineers?

For the past two or three months, the company had a growth in the number of engineers and QAs, and we decided to set up a monthly talk with engineers for any issues that we have, in addition to those standups. I think we have frequent meetings in different units to share the issues. We are also seated closed to the engineer team and can easily communicate with each other. As an unofficial meeting, we go on a walk at 3pm every day. We grab a coffee, talk about anything, and come back.

Balance between personal and professional lives

WealthPark has now five QAs and ten engineers, the balance of which sounds a bit unusual to me. Why is this?

The business model of WealthPark is very unique: we have multiple projects going on at the same time and we needed to expand the QA team to be reachable for all the features as well as to have a good command. Even after we hired some offshore engineers, I was still the only engineer to take care of anything happening in Tokyo and suggested that we would need more resources in Tokyo. Then we hired a local QA staff.

One thing that I really like about WealthPark is that they always give you the freedom to tell what you feel about your workload. Both business and development teams trust you and listen to how much time and resources you think you will need to finish tasks assigned by them. Thanks to that, I can work without any stress or pressure.

I believe that you also have been continuously putting an effort to establish trust and credibility within the company. How do you manage effectively both your personal and professional lives?

Overall, at WealthPark, you can get support to balance private and professional lives. Nobody objects if I take a break to attend a meeting for my son or work from home when he is sick. Everybody shows a good understanding.

For practical tips, I try to plan my entire week on Sunday evening as I always believe that proper planning helps you to achieve any kind of goals. I take note of my babysitter’s schedule, events at school, things that need to be finished at work. I might sound silly but I also plan on what to cook, especially kid’s bento, and what to wear for the coming week because I think I take a lot of time to decide on these points if not planned ahead. Since there are always too many things going on at the same time, both at home and at work, I set up a lot of reminders on mobile and slack for all my tasks whether they are small or big. This habit really helps me in not missing anything important.

That sounds like very useful tips for other working moms. Do you find any difficulties to pursue your career as a QA in Japan compared to any other countries?

One major problem to be a QA in Japan is that most of the products produced here are in Japanese and QAs need to have a good command of Japanese. There is obviously less opportunity for QAs for someone whose Japanese is entry-level. Luckily, products of WealthPark are trilingual – Japanese, English, and Chinese, and the entire development team is fully international and we communicate in English. I am very fortunate to find this company where I don’t have much stress about the language barriers.

You get more opportunities to expand yourself at a start-up

What was the most difficult challenge for you at WealthPark?

When I joined, we had no proper documentation for products. Now we started having documentations for new features for the last six months, but there was nothing for the legacy platform when I started working. When there were some bugs, it took time for me to understand how they were supposed to work because there was no way to know their specifications. That was a real pain point. Apart from that, things have been fine.

Do you find yourself fit better for a start-up rather than a well-established company?

I think you get more opportunities to expand yourself at a start-up, which keeps me motivated. For example, you cannot commit to just one particular role here. You always find some missing parts and try new different things to improve the situation, which eventually will make you keep pushing your boundaries and update yourself. That’s also how I became the first Scrum Master at WealthPark actually. As soon as I took a scrum course and got the certification, I was given a chance to try my skill in workflow project. I am happy with my career graph here.

At a well-established company, processes have been already set up and you need to follow the instructions step by step. At start-ups, on the contrary, you need to create the process; you start with a simple one, and then keep updating it when you come up with something better. While you can never stop learning, you can express yourself more freely.

What do you think the challenge for the company to move on would be?

Whatever you do or which team you work for at the company, we all share one goal: to deliver a good product to make our clients happy. For now, I see one major challenge for us is to improve/re-build our legacy systems which we have started addressing.

For any company to grow, transparency, communication and mutual understanding are always important. As long as we see the same goal and picture, I think we can continuously grow.

Very insightful. Okay, this is a last question. What do you do in your pastime?

I love reading biographies or memoirs. Books are very inspiring as well as relaxing. I am motivated by how people have overcome their difficulties and the risks that they took. There are too many books to name, but some of my favorites are Becoming by Michelle Obama, Leonardo da Vinci, Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

Thank you so much for your time.

飯田 明 | Mei Iida
渉外法律事務所にてファイナンス・パラリーガルを務めた後、大学院留学を挟んで飲食業の世界へ。外資系チョコレート会社のDirector of Communicationsとして、HR/ブランディングを担当。現在はフリーランスに転向し、複数の会社とのプロジェクトを通じて、カフェのプロデュース事業や人事、国内外のダイニングイベントの企画・運営に携わっている。