The short version
I'm Neil Studd, and this is what I do:
The longer version
I've been testing desktop and web applications for almost 15 years, working with a variety of increasingly agile teams, at companies as diverse as Last.fm and Oracle, and developing these skills further through contributions to freelance and beta-testing projects.
I am always seeking to engage in discussion with industry colleagues, so you will often find me attending testing events or discussing hot topics on Twitter (@neilstudd). I'm increasingly branching-out into speaking roles, sharing my thoughts and experiences with audiences both within my organisation and at testing meetups throughout the UK.
I'm a co-facilitator for Weekend Testing Europe, a monthly online meetup where testers can gather, discuss techniques, and partake in live testing challenges. My role, along with Amy Phillips, is to prepare a mission for the session, guide the attendees through the activities, and then lead a debrief to help in drawing conclusions from what the group has experienced. As both an organiser and an attendee, it's an exciting an endlessly varied intiative to be involved with, as sessions can often take unexpected turns! To find out more, you can read my Weekend Testing experience reports or visit the official Weekend Testing website.
LinkedIn's skills endorsement system is something of a flawed beast. Sometimes you're endorsed for things that you don't consider one of your areas of expertise. And when looking at other peoples' profiles, it's hard to tell (particularly when somebody has a large number of endorsements) whether those recommendations are genuine, or have been deliberately solicited.
With that in mind, if I had to choose three things that I would endorse myself for, they would be:
I have a knack for finding bugs, and for teasing them out of a system; finding that one loose thread which can lead to something catastrophic. Once I've discovered an issue, I specialise in producing compelling, persuasive reports to assist business decision-makers. Here's James Bach describing me as a "Navy SEAL tester" whilst reviewing some of my bug reports:
Through my years of working within agile development environments, I have encountered and experienced a range of different team cultures, all of them hugely positive. When working within a scrum team, I am able to display honesty and transparency whilst also maintaining professionalism and integrity. Although I am equally capable of working within a process-driven waterfall workflow, I feel that agile brings my personal strengths to the fore.
Although I have previously served in managerial or team leadership roles, my true strengths and passions are all found on the testing coal-face. I'm a tester because I love to test... it's that simple! I thrive most within an unstructured, exploratory testing environment, where I can utilise Rapid Software Testing skills, techniques which I've enhanced through the reading of books such as Elisabeth Hendrickson's Explore It!, and developing my cognitive abilities by reading a variety of psychological and sociological texts.
When I'm not testing
Outside the workplace, I'm still working to learn new technical abilities to augment my skillset. Recently I've gained some expertise in Powershell and Python, and am developing my own projects for the Raspberry Pi. I also have experience in web design, having developed for a variety of commercial PHP/MySQL ventures, and have served in advisorial roles for sites such as Football League Power Rankings.
I listen to a lot of music, and am an obsessive creator of charts and playlists. My tastes are mostly in the indie/folk area, though I'm listening to increasing amounts of country and electropop, so make of that what you will... I'm a singer and acoustic guitarist, albeit a little bit rusty. I can still be found with a karaoke microphone in-hand from time to time.
I'm a long-suffering supporter of Ipswich Town, standing with them through their 9-0 drubbing at Manchester United in 1995, and through the past decade of Championship malaise. That said, these days I spend more time analysing form and fixtures than actually watching matches: I'm a keen Fantasy Football player, and a former researcher for the Football Manager game series.
Given my interests in complex and methodical thinking, it's perhaps unsurprising that I'm drawn towards the epic scale of the Football Manager, Borderlands and Civilization games franchises. These days, I have many other demands competing for my attention (see above!) so my gaming is restricted to smaller spurts, often as part of beta-testing projects.