Why did i leave my independent consulting practice and become an employee of a large firm? I had an independent practice for four years. It's been a lot of work, and I didn't really see it getting any easier. In many ways, I've learned a lot about how to market, sell and deliver testing services, but no matter how well I did, I only had myself to sell. It limited my ability to exploit opportunities and kept me in an oscillating cycle -- extremely busy much of the time, and then very slow between engagements.
I had looked into putting together a larger test-consulting firm in a couple of ways, but none of them really worked out. Also, I had become less and less interested in a testing-only practice. In the past year or two, I found myself recommending to clients that they improve their unit testing capabilities. In one case, i recommended they bring in a developer consultant who was an expert in unit testing (although they didn't follow this recommendation). In another, i found such a consultant already engaged in a related team at the same client and forged an ad hoc alliance with him. I think the biggest gains to be made in software testing come from being able to make these kinds of alliances.
I'd already had a good impression of other ThoughtWorkers from meeting them at agile development conferences. So i knew they had sharp people. I didn't know what ThoughtWorks would be like as a company and have in fact been pleasantly surprised at how good a company it is.
In the past three months, i've talked to project teams in six cities, visited three of our offices (in three different countries), billed seven weeks of work to one of our projects, and spoken at six public conferences. And i've been getting to know dozens of the people who run ThoughtWorks.
Policies are mostly reasonable and always open to rational challenge. Business information is widely shared, including contract terms and rates and monthly company finances (detailing things like average consultant salary). And nearly every single person here is a straight-shooter, and this is even more true of the executives and people in positions of influence. That simply amazes me. I had never imagined that 500-person international company could be run this way.
I'm now building our testing practice. I believe that ThoughtWorks can become the leading provider of agile testing services and support for open-source testing tools.
I'm working with our business development staff to find and develop suitable opportunities for testing services. If your company wants help learning how to adapt your testing to agile development methods, wants help understanding how you can use open-source test tools, or simply is interested improving the effectiveness of your testing, please let me know.
I'm also meeting our existing testers and QA staff, learning about their visions for a testing practice. I'm also helping recruit new testers to ThoughtWorks and developing an internal training curriculum. If you are an experience tester or test automator with an open-mind about agile methods, I'm interested in talking to you (even the company web site doesn't say we are hiring testers). We're also hiring developers, project managers, coaches and business analysts. We are looking for consultants with high integrity and lots of smarts who are willing to travel a lot. In the US and Canada, many of our consultants are away during the week and home for the weekends. Those based in New York, Chicago and San Francisco can expect somewhat less travel, as we have many projects in those cities and try to staff them locally. Our UK projects are mostly in London, where our consultants often have long daily commutes. Our Australian projects are almost all in Melbourne, Sydney or Brisbane and are often staffed locally. Our consultants in India almost all work in our Bangalore office (on off-shore projects). You'll also find that many of our staff travel/relocate between countries, so all of our offices have lots of international variety.