You never know who you will meet when you attend PNSQC’s annual fall conference. Networking opportunities at the conference abound. And, for those interested in professional growth, chance encounters can even lead to collaboration.
For long-time PNSQC attendee and volunteer Moss Drake the chance to converse with a keynote or invited speaker over lunch or during a break is part of what keeps him coming back every year. “The conference is a great opportunity to sit down and just talk to Tom DeMarco, Rex Black, and Capers Jones [among others]. It’s the kind of conference where you can get to know people,” he says.
Phil Lew, another attendee-turned-volunteer, was among the connections Drake make at the conference in 2013. The two struck up a friendship over the ensuing years. “We do have a few things in common,” Drake says with a chuckle. “We’re the same age and we both worked at McDonalds in high school.”
From Idea to Presentation
Lew, a frequent speaker at conferences around the globe, invited Drake to co-present a workshop at the 2016 conference on managing the risks inherent to the agile development process. Moss had previously presented at PNSQC, and was intrigued by the offer to co-present. The two worked remotely over the summer on their workshop. And the presentation went well–so well that Lew decided that should take it to another conference. They later presented together at Better Software West.
Then Lew encouraged Drake to step a little further outside his comfort zone and go solo at a non-PNSQC conference. Drake decided to give it a shot and submitted a proposal to present at the Software Testing Professionals annual conference in Washington, D.C.
“Phil’s a pretty outgoing guy, much more so than I am,” he said. “I appreciate that he’s getting me involved in things like that. He pushes me to do things, and that has made me appreciate him almost as a mentor. I wouldn’t do that without somebody suggesting it.”
Presenting isn’t Easy for Everyone.
Drake admits that he gets anxious as the time approaches. But he’s learning to reach out to others to help him prepare for his moment in the spotlight, and the idea of speaking in front of a lot of really smart people doesn’t seem nearly as intimidating as it once did.
So what started out as an informal chat between sessions in 2013 has now blossomed into a friendship, a solid professional connection, and being open to new opportunities for professional involvement at other conferences for Drake.
How far will he take his speaking career? He can’t say. But he’s now a credentialed conference speaker, ready to test his limits for presenting, and also to share what he’s learned with others who aspire to get up in front of a crowd and share what they’ve learned about software quality.