Keith Klain Interview

Q: Tell us a bit about yourself
A: I’ve worked in software quality and testing for around 20 years and head up the SQM practice atTekmark Global Solutions. The greater part of my career has been spent in what I call “enterprise IT”, which are organizations built by multinational companies that use and build a lot of technology, but their core business is not technology. I’ve run large testing programs for Barclays, Citigroup, and UBS primarily in Investment Banking and Wealth Management. I grew up South of Chicago but have lived and worked in London as well as Singapore and now have an office in New York (when not traveling). Right now I live in Connecticut with my long-suffering wife, 2 sons, and our three cats – Louis, Ella, and Edith.

Q: What’s the best thing that happened to you during a testing conference?
A: I have made some great friends through all the conferences I’ve attended and it would be pretty difficult to tell all the funny and strange things that have happened over the years. But the best thing that ever happens is seeing people who I’ve mentored or worked with who are now giving talks, workshops or participating in conferences and making their own mark on the industry. The sense of community is a great part of the software testing industry and I always look forward to catching up with people from all over the world who want to give back to our business.

Q: While visiting Romania, what’s that one thing that you want to do before you return?
A: I’m very excited about this conference as it will be my first visit to Romania, so everything will be a new experience. St. Michaels Church and Central Park in Cluj-Napoca look lovely and as well, I fully expect to check out the local dining (and drinking) scene.

Q: What’s the most interesting thing about you that we wouldn’t learn from your resume alone?
A: The first thing people probably didn’t know about me is that during college and for years afterwards I played bass in a couple of jazz bands. I had played multiple instruments since I was a kid, but settled on bass after playing in a touring band in college that gave concerts in prisons. I’ve played at all sorts of jazz clubs and festivals all over Illinois/Chicago working out standards, but now just play at home with my son when he’s practicing his cello. Something else people might not know about me is that after my first job in options operations for a financial firm in Chicago, I took over a year off to bum aroundSummit County, Colorado skiing, back country snow shoeing, and camping all over the Gore Range. It was one of the best times of my life and I saw some beautiful parts of the country including hiking to the 12,777 ft summit of Buffalo Mountain.

Q: What’s your favorite ’90s tune?
A: Wow, there are lots of bands to choose from that era with the obvious favorites like Nirvana, Cake, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The Beastie Boys “Sure Shot” from Ill Communication (1994) and Widespread Panic “Ain’t Life Grand” (1994) really identify with specific periods of my life then, but if I had to pick I would settle on a couple “late” ’90s songs: Ballad of Big Nothing – Elliot Smith (1997) and House Where Nobody Lives – Tom Waits (1999). Probably not very cool, but I’ve never passed myself off as that… :)

Q: How do you get inspiration for your talks?
A: The great thing about doing this job is that I get to meet lots of testers and people interested in testing which exposes me to all sorts of new ideas. The projects and problems we are trying to solve together are an endless source of inspiration and probably why most of my talks are experience reports. I like to speak directly about what in my opinion and experience has worked for me and more importantly, what have I done that has epically failed. I don’t think you can learn anything without failing often, so I’m a big fan of sharing when I screw up.

See Keith’s Speaker page here.

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