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Lessons Learned from being Programme Secretary of a testing conference

I have just been the Programme Secretary for BCS SIGiST’s conference “Testing, Diversity, AI”, and it seems useful to share some of my thoughts on organising the conference.

Firstly it was a rewarding thing to do. I have worked in testing for twenty years and it was good to give something back to the testing community. It was great to give a platform to testing professionals who want to speak at a conference. It was great to hear so many fantastic speakers. I also learned about publicity, conference organisation, and met great people through being Programme Secretary.

Networking is an important part of attending a conference. It was important to make time in the conference schedule for networking as it was good to network with attendees and speakers at the conference. 

It is important that the speakers are representative of the population. I had aimed to have 50% women speakers and missed that target on the in-person stream. Next time I am Programme Secretary for a conference I will view 50% of the speakers’ places as for women and will only fill those places with women speakers.

It helped to have themes for the conference as this grouped talks, signalled to attendees what they would hear at the conference and helped publicity.

You should avoid clashing with other testing conferences as we are all trying to help the testing community and no one gains from two conferences happening at the same time.

Don’t get downhearted if things go wrong and obstacles appear, with your team you can overcome these issues.  Due to the Queen’s funeral, we had to reschedule the conference, which had eighteen speakers across two streams, and we did so successfully.

The British Computer Society is a not-for-profit and its Specialist Interest Group in Testing is run by volunteers like myself. It was great to work together as a team to organise the event. My membership of The British Computer Society is really useful as it enables me to connect with so many people from across the tech sector, such as those I worked with to organise the conference: Kerry Wear, Nicola Martin, Adam Leon Smith, Jonathan Wright, Paul Mowat, and Andy Shaw. I would encourage you to join BCS too:

The conference went well and I enjoyed the presentations and conversations.

I also have to say a big thank you to all the speakers, and to the BCS staff who helped put on the conference.

The main lesson learned was that being the Programme Secretary for a testing conference was a really positive experience!


Published by Mike Harris

Mike has been working in testing for 20 years and is currently the lone tester for Geckoboard. He has been a Test Lead and has also worked as a part of waterfall, lean and agile teams. He is also Programme Secretary of BCS SIGiST. Mike has a B.Sc.(HONS) from Middlesex University and is an Associate of the University of Hertfordshire. He has set up and led a Testing Community of Practice and been part of a successful agile transition. He is Co-Programme Chair of the British Computer Society’s Specialist Interest Group in Software Testing. He also contributed to the e-book Testing Stories and has had articles published by the Ministry of Testing. Follow Mike on Twitter: @TestAndAnalysis

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