I'm not right in the head. I've been struggling with depression, anxiety, and other brain weasels since I was young. I used to think that in my professional life I'd have hide this part of me, and if anyone found out, that would be the end of anyone ever taking me seriously - if not my entire career. So, I kept my mouth firmly shut about it. Until one day I didn't.
I'd like to tell you the story of how I started talking about mental health, even in the workplace, and what I learned from it about openness, courage, and kindness, and what Ben Franklin and oxygen masks have to do with it.
Target Audience: Everyone is welcome
There are things you don't talk about with your colleagues - even less so with your boss. Mental health issues are certainly a big no-no. When I first started working as an agile tester, I kept my history with mental illness secret. As a result, I couldn't speak openly about topics that are close to my heart: mental health and self-care. In the Agile World however, we value respect, courage, and openness. How do you reconcile this with these taboos? Can you really be courageous and open if you deny a part of yourself?
When I attended my first ever testing conference, I was in awe about the openness with which psychological topics were discussed. Inspired, and with a head still spinning from the experience (and a serious lack of sleep), I came clean to my boss on the very first day upon returning. From then on, I wore my heart on my sleeve.
And my life at the office began to change: Once I had started speaking up, openness came easier with every new issue. I would suddenly talk about my experiences with sickness and therapy as well as being more comfortable with sharing my thoughts and feelings about day-to-day business and goings-on at work. Conversely, people started confiding in me, asking me for advice and talking to me in a whole new way.
In this talk, I would like to share what I have learned from breaking taboos. I will discuss how communication improved for me, which obstacles I bumped into, and why I will still not shut up about the things you don't talk about at work.
Hi, I'm Sophie!
When I was a girl, I wanted to be an astronaut or a ballerina, or both. Now I'm a tester, holding diplomas in math and yodeling. I'm a dancer, a baker, a fighter and a knitter. Plant mum and doting aunty. I love the sea, walking in misty woods and all things chocolate or ice cream. I get over-excited and I talk too fast.
This is a story about teamwork. In the summer of 2019, the London Metropolitan Police's twitter account was hacked. Control of the account was soon recovered, but the culprits proved harder to find. Police were at a loss.
However, there were about 5 million people in the UK with a very specific skill that could have helped solve the crime, if only they had been consulted. Asking for help can be incredibly difficult. Veerle Verhagen knows this, because she's been there. It is also vital to self-improvement. So how do you learn to reach out and get the support you need?
Target Audience: This talk is aimed towards Testers and professionals who struggle to ask for help and feel uncomfortable doing so.
Just before Veerle heard about this Twitter Met police hacking story, she was in the position of the being the police in her testing own story. She was completely stuck on an assignment, but for various reasons didn't ask for help.
For a large part it was embarrassment that stopped her: as the only Tester on her project, she thought she had to be the expert in her field and asking for help would have been a sign of inexperience and mediocrity. So she stuck it out, inside her comfort zone and admits to never learning a thing.
Finding people who can support you and foster your talent is vital to your success as an individual. Veerle realised that she wasn't very good at reaching out, but she was learning to do so.
She learned that the most valuable allies are sometimes the most unexpected and in turn learned new ways of reaching out that make asking for help feel empowering rather than humiliating. And she wants to share with you how she got there.
Veerle is a software tester with RisQIT. She has a background in historical linguistics and spent a few years in education before turning to IT. She is particularly interested in the human beings behind the software, core skills, agile testing, and ethics in tech. So far her absolute favourite project in testing has been a mobile travel planner app. Besides testing, she likes to put her background in education to use by creating and facilitating workshops. Veerle is a social animal who cannot wait for the office (and the pub!) to open again. Until that time she tries to connect and keep in touch online with Testers all around the globe, from the comfort of her own kitchen.