Mental Health: Opening Pandora’s Box as a people leader
In early 2003 I started my career as a gifted, but cocky young tester with steady career progression and a love of learning. I was confident with the skills I had developed but my “I know all the things!” attitude quickly disappeared as I started to realise how broad a tester’s skill set could be, and how much I could still improve.
I attended career-defining courses, taught by world-renowned industry leaders, and read all the books and blogs I could find, improving my skillset further still. The sky was the limit.
Then, 6 years later in early 2009 everything stalled and went into year after year of flatline, culminating in my career, family, passion and confidence as a tester being decimated.
Coming to a crashing halt 5 years later, I went deep into depression and was affected by a stress-related autoimmune issue, requiring a physical operation to correct.
From that point I simply couldn’t see a way to get back into the driving seat, and decided I would quit my career for good. I resigned from my role with no job to go to, and no plans to continue my testing career, or in fact any type of technology role. I was burned-out.
This story is about the stages of my career, issues I encountered in those stages, and how others can learn from the mistakes I’ve made, so that they can avoid having to go through them in the first place.
I was fortunate to have the support of my amazing family and friends to help me out of that terrible situation, and persuade me to take one last chance on my testing career.
Through hard work and encouragement from the testing community, I managed to claw my way back from that precipice and I now feel like my passion, my drive, and my career are at an all time high. I’m hopeful that my story will encourage others to look after their mental wellbeing, and to seek help when needed in order to be the best version of themselves.
– INCLUSIVITY – MENTAL HEALTH – PEOPLE
David is a happily married 41 year old father of 2, living in Kent, in the United Kingdom.
Having been through his own Mental Health peaks and valleys, David is a vocal advocate for Mental Health Awareness and inclusivity, especially in the workplace and on social media. His own experiences have given him a solid grounding on identifying and preventing negative situations He has also taken the UK’s Mental Health First Aid course and offers his help freely to those in need, having been through his own trials, and knowing the benefit of support from others.
As an international speaker, David has spoken at Let’s Test in South Africa, TestBash in the UK, and multiple lightning talks over the years. This year will see David speaking at the Romanian Testing Conference, several private talks and of course IT Matters!
Across his 16 years in the field of quality and testing David has performed roles from tester, through to head of testing, and is now at Zoopla in the UK, leading them toward fully embracing ‘a whole-team quality’ mindset, and ‘agility’ in development.
He is also the newly-appointed Host for the London Software Testing Clinic; a free, open and safe environment for junior testers to learn the craft of testing, to network and expand testing skill sets, and for more senior testers to learn the craft of mentoring. We have chapters across the UK and Northern Ireland.