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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Farewell 2011 and welcome to 2012

As we come to the end of what has been a really wonderful 2011 for me personally, I wanted to take a moment to update my blog! There's not been much of this over the year, and I feel that I've missed out.

Sure, the Twitter and the facebook activity has been high, but the blogging is where I let my brain think through some more involved topics and I'm really not doing enough of that. Certainly not for my own liking and certainly not for a person who is in the role of a Chairman.

So, what has been keeping me so busy? On the personal front, the journey this year has included some very happy times:
  • Graduated from the Exeter MBA course in January
  • Got married in April
  • Took a two month sabbatical over April and May - spending loads of lovely time in the US and Spain, with Lisa
  • The arrival of our amazing daughter, Sofia, in September was a true blessing
  • Finding, buying and now moving into our new family home in December :)
There's been quite a lot going on really! The business has also been exciting, and we've moved forward in all of the TCL entities this year. Engaging with new Clients, being involved in the exciting journey with uTest and growing as a group to more than 125 people. All brilliant stuff.

I'm just about to go into the final staff review of the year, but before I go I wanted to leave you with a link to the interview I did this year for Global Entrepreneurship week. I actually did the presentation for the University of Exeter via Skype, from the uTest offices in Boston. We put this film together ahead of the day just in case there were any connectivity issues. As it turns out it all went pretty well on the day, but I didn't want the film to go to waste and we've included it on our Youtube channel. Here you go:

And so, last things last.....sometimes people ask me what drives me, and what drives TCL. I don't always share things like this; it's part of my only child approach to communication I'm afraid, but I've been encouraged by others who are more adept in this field than me to 'let it out', and what better place to start than here.

For me, I have a very great passion for testing and for making it a much more professional discipline that it is currently. I believe in innovation & efficiencies, I believe and enjoy creativity and building things - despite my disruptive tendencies - and this brings me to what drives us:

"We want to take testing to a new level. A professional discipline that is consistently recognised for its value."

"Through our endeavours we will ensure that testing is no longer perceived to be the 'Poor Cousin' of the IT industry. It will have a genuine seat at the table."

And with that I want to wish you all a Merry Xmas, Happy Holidays and I look forward to being on here again soon. My topic for January will be: using testing skills in other areas. Some reflections on my work around strategies and board development - both at TCL and other companies.


Saturday, August 27, 2011

EuroSTAR 2011, Europe's Premier Software Testing Event

EuroSTAR 2011, Europe's Premier Software Testing Event:

'via Blog this'

Are you going to Eurostar this year? It looks like it will be a good one.

James Whittaker will be speaking - keynote - and he's always entertaining and worth listening to. Over the years I have learnt a great deal from James.

If you are going to the event, let me know. Perhaps we can meet up.

Also - check out the great new virtual conference being held on 13th September. This is a very good idea and innovations like this only help the community. Embrace it if you can - it is free after all :)

Monday, June 06, 2011


Well, despite all the great intentions of my last Blog post I didn't manage that much in the blogosphere over the last few months. One of the reasons being that I have had a wonderful sabbatical for two months. Today is in fact my first day back to work.

In the two months I got married, spent a month in Boston, spent two and a bit weeks in Spain and had some fun at home too along with sorting out the house and garden in readiness for summer. A wonderful experience, all the better for sharing it with Mrs Noakes! I had never thought of taking a sabbatical and I now, in retrospect, really wonder why. It's such a great concept - if managed correctly, and one that has brought a great deal of change, rest and enjoyment.

Two months was a good length of time, but three would have been better! Seriously, while money for such a thing is tricky to manage, a third month would have been amazing. Perhaps 6 months as some people do would be almost impossible to return from - depending on the nature of what you do with the time.

For me, having spent 11 years at the helm of TCL - from bedroom floor start up to where we are now - it was a brilliant opportunity to take stock of life and self, and reflect on aspects good and bad of the journey to date. The next phase of the journey for me and for TCL is not yet fully defined, but there are a lot of thoughts and options working there way into a decent plan over the next few weeks. Let's see where it all goes.

As for sabbaticals, I highly recommend them if you have the opportunity. My learning would be to always budget at least 50% more than you thought in terms of time and cash, and also have a good contingency fund available too! With more time at your disposal it's so easy to spend more money :)

Monday, February 28, 2011

Long time no blogging!

Well, it's a Monday and I found a surprise gap in my schedule thanks to a lunch cancellation, so I've been looking around at a couple of things including my Blog, which let's face it hasn't been updated since October - and before that for quite a while too. Bad form!

So, what's been keeping it on the back burner? I guess it's bad planning, that's the real answer. I do have time in each week for discretionary stuff, and what I would see as lighter priorities away from the important and indeed the urgent that come along each day (note these are two categories, not one :) ), but these are often eaten up with things that are either a bit out of my control or indeed I choose not to control. As such, the blog never gets done.

Blogs are somewhat replaced in my world now too, with Twitter and Facebook, which get a little update most days. Twitter and Linkedin are nicely linked, so the updates go to both. Facebook I keep much more informal and with a much more social focus. The Blog is kept for indepth thinking, reflections and expressions of future ideas. All too often these types of mental gymnastics hit the skids when a new customer comes along or a new 'crisis' hits one of our operations, the market/environment or indeed one of those new Clients.

Here's a few of the things that have happened since October:
  • Got engaged!
  • Spent the first family xmas with new extended family
  • Planned a wedding - in Boston
  • Had a vacation, or two - both in the US
  • Started a leadership exchange via London First, with the Met Police
  • Graduated on my MBA course - After 5 years!!

Oh, yes, and I've been training quite a bit too. Having lost a reasonable bit of weight over the last two years, we are now - Ian, the trainer, and I - focussed on getting me ready for the Wedding in April. We've only 5 weeks to go, and there's a lot left to do! All going in the right direction though. Overall, since starting with him nearly 2 years ago I have lost around 60lbs. It's made a massive difference to how I feel each day and I am very thankful for all the help - including education and motivation - that Ian has been.

So, where does that leave us? No loose promises or wild sweeping statements, but I hope to be more blog active over the next 5 weeks before my sabbatical starts. Then, a gap of two months will hopefully see a lot more time for reflection, strategic analysis and thought along with time to visualise the future. With that will hopefully come a lot more blogging!

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