How Testers Can Become Better Leaders: An Interview with Selena Delesie


In this interview, Selena Delesie, a visionary speaker, coach, and trainer, explains how to give your team an edge. She covers what principles successful teams embody, how often people overlook the skill of listening, and a couple of her guiding principles that help people change.

Josiah Renaudin: Welcome back to another TechWell interview. Today I am joined by Selena Delesie, a visionary speaker, coach, and trainer. She will also be a keynote speaker at our upcoming STARWEST conference. Selena, thank you very much for joining me today.

Selena Delesie: Thank you, so happy to join you.

Josiah Renaudin: Absolutely. First, before we really dig into the meat of the content of the keynote, could you tell us a bit about your experience in the industry?

Selena Delesie: Yes. I started in software right out of university. I went to school for programming and mathematics. I started at a school that I could get a job as a tester, and I did not know that until my resume ended up in the wrong pile, so that's where I started. I found a joy for that—for finding problems and for helping to solve problems. Very quickly, within a year, I was moved into leadership roles. I did a myriad of leadership roles. My first job was at Blackberry when it was pretty small, and I got to see that company through a lot of growth, and as a result, through a lot of larger handhelds like smartphones before smart phone was even a term, and moving into meeting larger teams, projects, and programs.

Beyond that, I moved into starting a test department at another company and grew that very quickly, working closely with the executive levels in those organizations, and people all the way through. Outside of that, after I did a little bit of work as a scrum master and coaching agile teams, I started my own business in supporting, consulting, coaching, and training across those test organizations and agile teams and organizations as a whole. That's what I do now. Mostly I love to focus on helping managers become leaders and helping team members become leaders so that everyone can really be putting their best selves into their work and really love what they do.

Josiah Renaudin: You have been a part of a lot of teams.

Selena Delesie: Yeah.

Josiah Renaudin: When we’re talking about successful teams, it’s hard to have this broad, umbrella statement of what works, this is what makes teams successful. What do you see as the major principles that successful teams most often identify with and embrace?

Selena Delesie: Yeah, I wish I could say there is a silver bullet. It is not an easy thing. That said, it actually is kind of easy too, in a way. It is basically what we learned as children as to what it was to really be good people in my standpoint from my experience. It's really that people, they matter, and we need to treat people as they matter and really care about each other, listen to each other, and really be curious about how to work together to be creative and to come up with awesome stuff and produce great products.

There are a myriad of approaches and processes that you can use. When I am coaching from an agile standpoint, there are so many different things you can pick from, and I'm not going to tell you which one is right for you or for your team. It depends on what is right for that context, for that situation and for those people involved. It really comes down to how do we show up as people to really interact and collaborate and work together, and how can we create a space where people feel safe to do that and feel safe to do that with themselves at the same time.


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