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The Coding Mermaid 🧜‍♀️
The Coding Mermaid 🧜‍♀️

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✨Inspire me Monday✨ - From Pathologic Anatomy to QA Lead

Inspire me Monday - intro

How wonderful it is when we aspire to make a change in our lives and careers, and we find someone who shares an amazing story on how they did achieve their goals and somehow, parts of their path remind us of where we are now..

Everything looks easier when we think if this person was able to do it, I also can do it!

With this in mind, I decided to start interviewing people who did a career change, from different backgrounds to different roles!

This will take place every first Monday of the month and it's open for topic ideas or people's recommendations, so feel free to do it!

Our Guest today: Lina Kulakova

Lina is a speaker at conferences like GoogleDevFest and Pixels Camp, and a mentor at PWIT (Portuguese Women in Tech). Lina also, dedicate time to teaching ISTQB and defining QA departments in companies from scratch. Nowadays, she advocates good testing practices and organizes #QualityTalks events to spread her enthusiasm and contribute to the growth of her peers.

Lina Kulakova


1. You have a bachelor's in Pathologic Anatomy, then renamed as Biomedical Science but now you work as a Quality Engineer. How did that happen?

I have always been passionate about computers and math but never considered either of them as a career option. Since childhood, I thought I would follow my mother's steps as a doctor but when finishing my studies I realized that although I love studying this, I need something more fast-paced.

I've learned that there is a profession called Quality Assurance tester and the plan was to use this to learn computer science and become a developer one day. However, I fell in love with QA and could not leave it anymore.

2. Did you take any qa course or have you learned on the job?

I have started without any special course. There weren't many back then. I have studied ISTQB syllabus but still could not understand what will be my day-to-day as a QA. Most of the training I took when I was already working as a QA.

3. Major challenges that you faced when you started as a qa?

I have struggled to understand what's the right way to do things. There weren't many trainings nor books on the topic, especially from the local community and I was working as the only QA in all of my projects. That's why I have decided to found QualityTalks so that people like me can learn the best practices from other professionals.

4. Do you have any tools/websites that help you to always keep updated with the latest news and technologies?

Medium and LinkedIn mostly help me identify the hop topics. Also, there is a strong community on Twitter where you can talk to the best QAs from all over the world that sometimes are even the "trendsetters".

The Guild Automation podcast and Angie Jones's blogs are a great sources of information.

Angie Jones Podcasts

5. Looking at your LinkedIn, I see that you are currently studying Mathematics! Is it hard to conciliate with work? What made you interested in this bachelor's?

It is more demanding during the exams but I am doing this because I love Math so this gives me an extra dose of energy. I believe that if we really want something, we will find time and energy to do that.

6. You are also a Founder of QualityTalks, one of the first QA communities in Portugal. Can you tell us a little more about that?

I do remember the very first meet-up that I attended. I felt so lost. New job, new to QA… and I wanted to meet other QAs but the meet-up was directed mainly to developers so I understood about 30% of the words 😅. On that day I decided that since there isn't a QA community in Lisbon, I will create one. So I created Quality Talks and this was one of the best experiences for me.

Quality talks event

I have met inspiring people, learned different techniques, and always know about the new tech buzzword. Nowadays, we are a strong community of more than 500 QualityTalkers and I have the honor to teach and mentor some of them.

7. You now work as a QA Lead at TOGGLE, can you walk us through your role?

Like any leadership role, it is 60% of the time meetings. But the most exciting part is to be able to build a strategy for the department, bring ideas, mentor my team and see the results of our hard work in compliments from our customers.

QA has been neglected for a long period of time and now we see its blossom. So showing the importance and value of our job while boosting the team and helping team members grow as individuals is the best investment of my time.

8. How does your background impact your current job?

Attention to detail is definitely something that I've brought to this job from "my past life". Other than that I came completely unprepared from college.

9. For someone starting the quality assurance path, what advice would you give?

First: understand your value. We all know that quality is important but that is not always reflected in the time we are given. You need to know for sure how valuable you are and if you need to demonstrate that to the team, do it with numbers. A couple of metrics might be the best ally

Second: never stop learning. As I have said previously, QA is blossoming. We see new tools, new techniques, and new methodologies. Keep up and learn. This will improve your results, reduce your efforts and make everything even more exciting.

Last but not least, don't be afraid to ask. Asking questions might be as hard as apologizing.
But you are actually paid to ask as many questions as you can. Don't feel that it is a silly question or that others would perceive you as unprofessional. It takes courage to ask questions that most likely others also have but don't dare to ask.

10. Final remarks that you want to share with us?

Technology has invaded our world and now almost all the companies are IT companies. Whether it is a bank, a grocery store, or a car manufacturer. We can't escape from it so let's embrace and be amazing at it. Find your inspiration, learn and teach others.

As I usually tell my students, there isn't right or wrong. It's your path and your experience and it adds value to the industry! And best of luck ;)

You got this gif

Top comments (2)

volker_schukai profile image
Volker Schukai

interesting career and great interview

monicafidalgo profile image
The Coding Mermaid 🧜‍♀️

Thank you😊