Kate Green is a teacher at heart. Now an engineering leader with more than 20 years in the industry, she started out by pursuing an elementary education degree—which she says comes in surprisingly handy. “You might not think it would transfer, but a lot of the principles of education line up closely with testing,” she says. When you’re thinking about writing code and testing software, you have to be very prescriptive with your steps, just like when you’re teaching kids how to do math.”
After college in Washington D.C. after 9/11, Kate went to work for a defense contractor, where she cut her teeth learning how to build applications, secure servers, and everything in between. Since that time, she has worked in just about every part of the stack: front end, back end, QA, test automation, and more.
“At first, I got into testing because I was leading front-end development, but they kept making me do CSS because I was ‘the girl who made everything pretty,’” said Kate. “And I was like, forget this. I want to up my tech cred. I have a non-traditional background, I really need to get into something else, so I went to test automation. I absolutely loved it. I thought, ‘This is so cool because I'm going to be able to make other developers’ lives easier. That's really what I'm about. When it comes down to it, I want to make everybody help realize their potential.’”
We asked Kate what the culture in the testing community is like for her and other women. “It's a struggle being a woman in tech sometimes, but heading into testing gave me such a different view on the software lifecycle. It is so important to broaden your understanding, and working in test automation gave me so many chances to do that. As a woman, it specifically introduced me to many other women doing great things in tech, people I could emulate like Lisa Crispin, Angie Jones, and Maaret Pyhäjärvi. We all want to see people who look like us doing what we want to be doing.”
Kate has a lot to be proud of over her career. She was able to reimagine an API test suite and convert it to handle not only basic API testing, but also performance testing, load testing, and as an e-commerce app to check prices. “If there was a problem in the API test, everyone paid attention, which is the gold standard for me as a tester.” She also built a CSS framework for two newspapers off the same code base, which made it easy to edit in a streamlined fashion.
Now, Kate leads a product team for Wirewheel, a data privacy company, building an application that helps companies comply with GDPR and CCPA. Although she isn’t in a testing-specific role right now, she says the lessons from her testing and education background have been helpful.
She also continues to educate through speaking engagements and her blog. One of her recent blog posts, A Letter to an Entry Level Software Engineer, details some of her advice to people just starting out on the path she’s taken. When you talk to Kate, it’s clear that she truly cares about helping others and leaving tech better than she found it. “Don’t give up, keep improving, stay curious. We need every last one of you,” she writes.
Kate will be speaking at SauceCon 2021. Her topic, “Your Code Will Die in a Fire,” is all about the need to plan for failure in order to increase the resilience of your code. “Not to be dramatic, but it’s true,” says Kate. “We have all shipped bugs or taken production down. Or both. At the same time.” This talk is all about the methods for lowering the likelihood of our work breaking things and being ready for when it does.
“I’m actually working with my team on this right now,” she says. “A lot of them don’t have a testing background. But planning for failure is not just a skill for software… it’s a skill for life! You have to be able to figure out why something isn’t working and plan for how you deal with your failure states.”
If you would like to hear Kate and others like her, make plans to join us virtually at SauceCon 2021 April 20-22.