“Getting into software testing was one of the best coincidences of my life”

Patrícia Alves, Test Center Manager

She dreamed of becoming a pilot, but ended up taking off in a different direction. At 42, Patrícia Alves runs the Siemens Test Center, where she manages a team of over 60 people. “I feel like I’m in the cockpit of an A380, equipped with an F16 engine”, she jokes. “All the technology available in a cockpit roused my curiosity, and I ended up drawing closer to IT. It all began in the days of the ZX Spectrum, those computers with archaic games”, she recalls. Currently, she spends her days between her home in Arruda dos Vinhos and Siemens in Alfragide, where she often arrives driving a Honda Rebel motorcycle. “I was taking the private pilot’s license but had to suspend it. So, I decided to take the motorcycle’s license”, she laughs showing her taste for adrenaline. You can just as easily run into her anywhere else in the world because Patrícia represents the Portuguese Association of Software Testing and the International Software Testing Qualifications Board.

All the technology available in a cockpit roused my curiosity, and I ended up drawing closer to IT. It all began in the days of the ZX Spectrum, those computers with archaic games.
Patrícia Alves, Test Center Manager

The role of the tester

A good tester “must be curious, persistent and creative”, says Patrícia. “You might be excellent in a technical level, but if you don’t have these qualities it won’t work out. Because what we do is deconstructing everything that we see and check if things are well built and if they work”. The team began by testing Siemens’ internal systems, such as those used by Human Resources. Currently, they also test systems which support production lines and that manage the life cycle of Siemens products.

In practice, “my team is in constant contact with the client, with the development, project management and service teams”. And this means that this service has impact in around 200 Siemens facilities in the world. They are also in close contact with local users of the applications they support.

Flexibility, focus and attention

One of Patrícia’s tricks to handle the busier days is flexibility. “I often say that I go by the book, but I’m Portuguese, and therefore flexible. From one moment to the next my schedule might be turned upside down and I’ll have to cancel everything to aid in a project”, she says. “Being able to work from home helps me manage my personal and professional life better”, she adds.

On the other hand, she insists on a few moments of meditation in the morning. “I stay still and think of my goals, things I want to achieve, I give thanks for what I have and seek out some kind of balance. If it is a particularly complicated day, or moment, I play Unstoppable, by Sia, and I jump around a bit on my trampoline. I might also repeat some ideas, like a kind of mantra, to energize myself and reinforce up confidence. It gives me an added boost”, she confides.

I stay still and think of my goals, things I want to achieve, 
I give thanks for what I have and seek out some kind of balance.
Patrícia Alves, Test Center Manager

With and for people

Her leadership style is marked by her ability to “focus, and pay proper attention to people. I don’t let distance and the size of the team distract me from each person individually.” She is passionate about personal development, especially Neurolinguistics Programming. “If I have tested it on myself, I apply it to my team. Everyday communication improves considerably, it’s great to share this knowledge”.

Her work in the international associations is also motivated by her taste for sharing. “I want to contribute in order to give added value to the work of hundreds of thousands of testers all around the world. The satisfaction I get out of using my experience to help share this knowledge is priceless”.

This is an experience which was not exactly planned. “I wouldn’t change a thing in my professional career. I didn’t plan to go to software testing, but it was one of the best coincidences of my life.”