Software tester and die-hard Buzz Lightyear fan, Deborah Sherwood, reflects on her role as software tester and busy mum to two young boys - she makes it work and she's absolutely killing it.
Squiz: In which office are you based Deb?
How long have you been at Squiz for?
I celebrated my 10 year work anniversary at Squiz in April this year.
Did you go to university? If so what did you study?
I went to the University of Technology, Sydney. I did a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
A teacher; but then I was introduced to computers and never looked back. My first position at Squiz though was a trainer so I suppose I got to do some teaching in the end.
Describe an average day in the life of Deb:
Being a Mum of two gorgeous boys, my days can be crazy. I drop them off at day care and school and then head to the office. At the office I do everything from ordering groceries, to putting out the bins, to coding unit tests, to testing new features. At about 2:30pm I leave the office to pick up my oldest from school and then head home to keep on working. We are lucky at Squiz that we have flexibility so that I can pick up my boy from school, giving him a chance to unwind at home.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
I am a developer at heart, so being part of the developer team without having to do core developer work is a perfect fit for me.
I also love the team that I work with – all of them. I am the only female in Squiz Labs so it can be difficult sometimes (there are 14 males and 1 female in the Parramatta office) but we have been working together for so long that we are family.
What does a software tester do?
I test the software that the team develops before it is released into the wild to make sure there are no major bugs. I also write unit tests for Viper – our WYSIWYG editor – so I am still doing a bit of coding without having to be a developer.
What do you get excited about?
Baking. I love to bake! And I love it more when it works!
What’s something in tech right now that you’re excited about?
I don't call myself an Apple fan but looking at me and my devices you would call me a fan. I have everything from the watch to the Macbook Pro. I am excited to see what they come up with next!
Advice from your current self to your old self:
Be patient and keep smiling. It's not the end of the world. You will survive and you will come out bigger and better! Also enjoy your time with your babies because then they turn 8 and don’t want to know you hahaha!
What’s your favourite aspect of your role?
Being the first person to see the new features in our software before they get released and knowing just how awesome it’s going to be for our users. Also talking to other members in Squiz and seeing their reaction to new features especially when I know it’s going to make their life a whole lot easier.
What’s the most challenging aspect of your role?
I would have to say working with my husband, Greg Sherwood. Greg is Chief of Engineering for Squiz Labs. So not only do I sit next to him, he is also my boss. We met on the first day of uni and have been together now for 16 years. We knew very early on that we couldn’t work together, as we would fight like cat and dog over our uni assignments. Yet, 8 years ago I moved into the dev team and it seems to work. We have our moments, but I think overall we work well together.
How do you manage work/life balance?
It’s hard not to bring work home when you are married to your boss. Sometimes it’s the only time I get to talk to him about things I found in the software because there is no one to interrupt us. When we are not working we try to focus our full attention on our two boys. I also try to distract us from work on the weekend by taking up a cooking or baking challenge!
What’s something you’ve done that you’re really proud of - in terms of your career?
Being part of the team that built and created Viper. It's a fantastic WYSIWYG editor that actually works! I have used a few in my lifetime, that have frustrated me so much that I wanted to throw out my computer, but ours is so easy to use and does what you want. And if there is a bug, I can just turn to the dev and ask him to fix it.
Who is someone that inspires you?
My Dad. He has taught me to always give and never take, to be patient, even when things go wrong, to help out whenever you can, no questions asked and to be tough.
Tell us something interesting about you:
I am the Secretary for the P&C Committee at my son’s school and I am also the convenor for the school fete, which is known as the Murray Farm Cracker Carnival, complete with fireworks! It is a huge community event that attracts not only the families in the school but many local residents. We held this year's Cracker Carnival a couple of weeks ago when the east coast low storm hit. While Vivid was cancelled, the Cracker Carnival still went ahead! In 44 years, nothing has stopped the Cracker Carnival.
I also volunteer as a Hills CarPal. Hills CarPal is a group that helps get shut-in seniors out of the house. We volunteer to drive the seniors to medical appointments, hairdressers, shops or social events.
Books or movies? And what are your favourites?
I like both. I like to sit back in my chair next to the fire, with a wine and read. But then I like to cuddle up with the boys and watch movies.
Favourite all time movies – Toy Story 1, Toy Story 2 and Toy Story 3! Just look at my desk and you'll see that I'm a HUGE Buzz Lightyear fan - 17 Buzz toys and counting. Toy Story 3 came out on my birthday and I treated myself to Gold Class. I cried and I cried. How can I say goodbye to Buzz, Woody and the gang?
Tabs or spaces?
Being married to the Chief of Engineering, I better say spaces.