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Csenge, Senior Software Tester, on Teamwork, Coaching and Exploring New Career Perspectives

Csenge Tomita joined Fortech in 2015 to launch her software testing career. Years after, she’s a Senior Software Tester and Team Leader and continues exploring new perspectives in her professional development.

Get a glimpse #BehindTheCode. Read about Csenge’s career path, the project from the real estate industry she is currently working on, and the team she’s leading. Discover her hobbies and get some insights into what working from home as a mom of a toddler means.

Csenge Tomita joined Fortech in 2015 to launch her software testing career.

Can you please tell us a bit about yourself? What are your hobbies, passions?

I love to spend time with my family and friends, and I like going camping with them. I have a 3-year-old son, Marek, who makes sure I’m not short of hobbies. At this point, our whole house is a painting space, but this may change as he grows up.

The only hobby that I had my whole life was reading, which is the most relaxing activity I can think of. I usually mix light reading with self-development and technical books, depending on my mood. When choosing the light readings, I usually rely on recommendations from friends or colleagues. The technical books I read are on a need basis. When I want to learn something, I always start with a book. My favorite author is Simon Sinek, as he explains leadership in a nice and simple way, with day-by-day examples. His books had a significant impact on my self-development.

Tell us a bit about your software testing career. How did it start, how did your journey with Fortech begin?

I studied veterinary medicine for 6 years at USAMV Cluj-Napoca. Somewhere around the 4th year of study, I realized that this job would not suit me. So, I decided to find something that would make me just as happy as my colleagues were with their vet choice.

At that time, I was lucky enough to have a friend working in software development, right here at Fortech. I watched him working for a while, and every single task he had looked like a brain teaser. That made me want to do the same, to follow this career path. Given my lack of technical background, I aimed for a job in Software Quality Assurance.

My friend helped me by giving me homework, useful links, books, and tutorials. I probably exhausted him with lots of questions, but he didn’t bail on me. I started with a Quality Assurance position at a small company. Shortly after, when I started learning and felt confident enough, my friend recommended me to Fortech in 2015.

I perfectly remember the first months at Fortech. The happiness and amazement followed me everywhere. I liked the coffee breaks, the colorful meeting rooms, the fun room where we gathered for board games, the garage where we played ping-pong. But most of all, I liked that I found a place where I felt I fit in. The beginning wasn’t easy, as I had so much to learn, but having a path and knowing that I can rely on my colleagues made it so much easier.

Years and projects passed, but the joy remained. Even when I was on childcare leave, I came to Fortech at least once a week to have a coffee and see my colleagues. Marek slept through most of these coffee breaks, and I am sure these people ultimately contributed to his well-being by grabbing a coffee with me. I hope they know how grateful I am to them.

Csenge (upper right corner) and her team in a collage made on a teammate’s birthday.

Csenge (upper right corner) and her team in a collage made on a teammate’s birthday.

What’s your current role in the team?

My technical role is Senior Software Tester and a Team Leader. As a Team Leader, I help my teammates find their professional path and use their skills the best they can. As a Software Tester, I am the go-to person for the developers I work with and the person they rely on to make sure the code they worked on so hard meets our customers’ expectations.

Besides my daily duties, I am also involved in technical recruitment. As a Technical Recruiter, I ensure that every candidate is evaluated based on their potential and skills, and not only based on a cold list of questions. I also get involved in internal projects when my skills are of use.

Tell us a bit about the software project you are currently working on.

I’m currently working on a project from the real estate industry, for a customer from the US. The product handles property management for communities. It’s a platform that facilitates community interactions, services, and maintenance for all buildings in the residential area. It also optimizes capital investments throughout the property lifecycle. It’s a very complex product, on multiple platforms and in full development. It basically makes life easy for owners and for people who rent.

What’s the project’s tech stack like?

We do manual testing most of the time, but not for long, we hope. The automation testing part is starting up with Java and Selenium. Our goal is to have a reliable automation test suite and thus use the manual testing only where needed and drop the manual smoke/sanity testing.

On the development side, we use Ember.js, Ruby, Java, Android and iOS. Some of the services we use are: RabbitMQ as queue manager, Splunk for log aggregation AWS, Twilio for communication and Couchbase for DB.

What’s your favorite thing about this software project?

All the new things we learn and the way we evolve as a team excite me. We’re a team built during the pandemic, as the project launched last year. We started to work miles apart, but we managed to connect. I also love that we can self-improve while working on the project. Even if I am a manual tester, I can move on and contribute to the automation part, which helps me grow on the project.

What are the most challenging aspects of this software project?

I always love a good challenge, which for me means a bunch of good people working through something that needs every shoulder. The people can give the tone of the project. It doesn’t matter how challenging the project is as long as everybody is in with both feet. We are currently working on organizing ourselves better and this is tough, but everybody knows it and comes up with ways and ideas to improve day by day.

Tell us more about your team.

My current team in Fortech counts 10 people – 7 developers, two testers and one PM. We are working from Cluj, Oradea, and Chisinau. On the customer side, there are around 12 people in the engineering team with which we work and interact daily, from which 4 persons are in QA .

We are actually a team-family mix because we’ve seen each other’s children in meetings. By the way, the fun fact is that kids only come to the laptop when we are in meetings. Parents will surely know the struggle. My husband and I have been working from home with our son for the past year. We try to rotate our meetings so that our son is not included in them. But that is not always possible. So Marek knows my colleagues and calls them by name when he sees them in the meeting.

Once, he attended a QA meeting in which our QA Lead from the US asked him if he wants to do some tasks for his mother. The answer was yes, of course.

We try to compensate for the lack of team bonding time by playing online games together and laugh at the horrible drawing skills that we have. We usually play on Kahoot as it is a fun and relaxing game. Each player turns in getting a word that they must draw so the other players can guess the word. The prize for the player who wins at the end of the season is a bar of chocolate. Usually, when we play, we are in a Microsoft Teams conference, and my son joins me and gives spoilers on my drawing. So, I don’t think I’ll win this season.

I think everybody looks forward to getting back at the office, at least in a hybrid model where we can see each other a few times a week. I already started going to the office once a week. Together with my team, we chose a day in which we all try to make it to the office. In the first days/weeks in this formula, I couldn’t work that well because I wanted to spend all the time talking to my colleagues. It felt like we were a newly formed team, and I can’t stop discovering my colleagues.

Csenge and her son Marek working from home.

Csenge and her son Marek working from home.

What’s next in your career journey?

I want to be the best Team Leader I can be. I am constantly working on my self-development because I know that others can follow if I move further on my path. Like I followed the path that looked attractive to me.

While I was on childcare leave, I started reading about leadership and understanding what it means to be a good leader. When I came back, I found that the things I read about are already being applied in our new performance management process – iGrow. I found out that my supervisor (who plays the role of coach in iGrow) was already trained to adopt the new approach, and I noticed changes in my coaching sessions. I finally felt that I have control of my own professional development.

In the past, the performance management process was mostly based on mentoring – as in “I walked this path, and I come and tell you what you should learn further.” But now we are using another approach – “this is your path, so let me be there for you as you find what you need and ask for help when you can’t.”

I was also trained in coaching, and this changed my whole perspective about coaching, mentoring and also helps me in child-raising. I learned the difference between a coach, a mentor, and a supervisor/direct manager. I learned how to support someone in finding and reaching their objectives and that real coaching has nothing to do with anybody else but the coached person. I learned how to set limits to each of these roles, so the people I work with can benefit from all of them.

The best thing iGrow did for me was helping me realize that I have a whole team around me, not only the people I work with daily, team to which I can go and get mentoring whenever I need. If I want to learn three things at once, I find those three people (or maybe just one, depending on what I need) and I ask them to open a door for me. And they do.

What advice would you give to someone interested in joining Fortech?

I joined Fortech 6 years ago to grow and develop professionally. The main reason I am sticking with Fortech today is the same. Still, several others rolled in unexpectedly – the desire to be my best self, the feeling that someone’s got my back, the friendships that develop so easily in an environment with like-minded people. If you feel like this description fits you, get in touch with us. :)

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