In Conversation with Tribal Qonf Speaker- Pradeep Soundararajan
To connect our Tribal Qonf Speakers and Audience better, we interviewed our speakers over a few important questions. The conversations we had were just amazing.
In this edition, we are publishing the Interview we did with Pradeep Soundararajan (CEO Moolya Testing & AppAchhi). Pradeep answered many interesting questions and we are sure you will enjoy the read.
Trisha: Tell us a little about what inspired you to become a tester?
Pradeep: Before I begin my story, I wanted to share with everyone that at this time in the world, we are going through a lot of challenges. What has happened to George Floyd is unacceptable and we all must stand together and restore humanity.
In 2002, I designed a Bluetooth-based ECG system during my time at an engineering college. I wanted to convert the design to a working prototype and I consulted cardiologists who then referred me to a couple of companies in Chennai and Bangalore. In my search to convert that to a prototype, I knocked on the door of a start-up that was working on Bluetooth that happened to be Impulsesoft. They liked what I had done but found it not aligned to their business goals but instead offered me a job to test Bluetooth Audio products post my completion of bachelors. I didn’t know that testing was a full-time job. I took it up because working on Bluetooth was that young boy’s dream.
I started to enjoy testing. I became obsessed with it. To the extent that I lived 24/7 in office. However, when I saw the parity between a programmer and a tester, I wanted to then become a full-time programmer (like many people around that time) and was getting coached by Sridhar Krishnamurthy, who was a developer and an architect in Impulsesoft. One day during our regular Bhel Puri session, he pulled me aside to tell me something that changed my life. He said, “Dey Pradeepa, I have worked with plenty of good programmers but hardly with people who are passionate about testing. I see that you have a natural flow with testing and I think you should stick to it for the long term”. That day, obsession turned into a vision.
Trisha: What or who has been the greatest influence in your professional life?
Pradeep: This is a tough question because there are many. I have thanked some people in the book I published – Buddha in Testing and hence will choose a list of people different from the list in the book.
I went for an early morning walk today and was listening to BeGees songs. The thought that struck me was – “Such pleasure it is to listen to them and have I been taking them for granted”. We tend to take simple things for granted. We don’t know how to measure the impact of simple things so instead of talking about “greatest” influence, I am going to talk about “simplest” influence whose impact I may not be able to measure or grasp.
- Pooja Shah– Singing a parody of “My name is Antony Gonsalves” with a Testing Twist at Appium Conference 2019.
- Manoj Kumar– Who gave up his slot for someone else to speak at Appium Conference 2019.
- The team at the Ministry of Testing for absorbing all the losses due to COVID19 and yet putting a great Test Bash Home
- Mahesh Chikane– For removing the restriction of time for early bird fees to enable more testers to be a part of Tribal Qonf during the COVID19 times.
- Janet Gregory– for putting her calmness ahead of talent.
- Sam Connelly– for the courage to blog sensitive personal topics to benefit people going through similar experiences.
- All my colleagues in Moolya Testing who have helped me become a better person.
Trisha: How are you practicing your skills during COVID-19?
Pradeep: Practice is an important word. We take practice for granted. We all love one or the other sports star. What we fail to learn from them is this beautiful word called “practice”.
People, when they get to a job and get working for a while, think they are an ace at it. They get so busy with work without realizing that they have got busy because they didn’t practice.
For me, writing is a great way to sharpen the brain. It is difficult to write well unless there is clarity in the brain. It can mean writing anything, writing code, or writing a blog. So, I write. Oh, by the way, I started a new blog recently called Deep Test. https://moolya.com/deeptest/
Trisha: How will your talk motivate the attendees and one lesson they will carry at the TTT conference?
Pradeep: I have transitioned from being a contract tester to full-time tester to being an independent consultant, being a businessman, and also a Product Owner of a Test Tool.
I had the opportunity to see ‘Inside Out’ and ‘Outside In’ of Testing. I think it is important for people with ‘Inside Out’ view to see the ‘Outside In’ perspective. I wish someone had told this to me a long time ago. Nevertheless, it becomes my duty to help people see it.
What people take from my talk depends on their biases, their ability to learn, and unlearn. I would be a facilitator at best with the hope that this helps people gain new perspectives that can change their future for good.
Trisha: Please share with us being a CEO, how do you keep employees motivated?
Pradeep: Motivation is needed for people who are down. People become down with things that they are afraid of in 2014, I had an enlightenment moment about people, their insecurities, and how it drives them to think and fear things. At Moolya Testing, we breed the culture of courage. We breed the culture of making mistakes, learning from it, and not being punished for it (except unethical ones).
This provides a safe zone for people to discover themselves. A colleague of mine completed 5 years in Moolya, a few days ago. I called him up and asked him, “What has been in Moolya for 5 years done to you?” and he replied, “I am a transformed man. I feel light, think straight, have fewer emotions, don’t fear much, solve problems, and move forward”.
I guess this is the best I can hear from my people. My transformation is linked to their transformation.
Trisha: Please share with us more about V level people?
Pradeep: Here is the hierarchy of the business.
The shareholders -> The board -> The C level -> The V Level -> The D Level – The M Level -> The L level – The S Level -> The J level.
The true boss of a company is the shareholders. The V level is where Vision starts to get translated to Reality. The V level people are tasked to achieve a certain goal. It could be a revenue goal – an engineering goal or an employee goal.
They are not people who are hands-on but are responsible to recruit the team who will execute and support them in their execution. CTO is someone who is across the tech of a company whereas a VP Engineering is a person who translates a roadmap to sprints and releases. CTO and VP Engineering may also jointly define things.
Trisha: Could you please share with us how you tackle the challenge of running a business during COVID-19?
Pradeep: COVID19 has thrown the biggest leadership challenge to most organizations. Companies with deep pockets and the business aligned on online commerce are happy companies today. Running a business during these times is very dynamic. The situation keeps changing every week and we don’t have control over it.
I am sad to see people lose jobs across the world. I live by the principle of Ubuntu. If I am having my job and pay today – it doesn’t mean I have a reason to be happy. How can I be happy when many people have lost jobs. In Moolya we prevented job losses so far because of the diverse portfolio of customers. However, I know many testers write to me every day about having lost jobs and I am not happy that I am unable to recruit all of them.
Good news, we are also onboarding new customers who can compensate for some of the customers who had to bring down the curtain on some projects.
Thanks to my practice of non-religious spirituality that has kept me super calm and focused on what I need to do. Thanks to my fellow Moolyans who support and they are my masters. They are great masters and I am an average servant. They still haven’t fired me.
Trisha: How do you work with every Moolya employee enabling them to be successful?
Pradeep: Today we are about 200 people. We would be growing to 500 once the COVID situation gets over. I can’t work with everyone in Moolya. That is where culture plays a big role. Culture is what can touch every employee of the company, not the Founder. The Founder at best can touch 10 people. The 10 people that the Founder touches should have the ability to precipitate the culture.
From that perspective – I think I have a fantastic team. Two people in the core leadership team are testers who joined us as Freshers. Amit Vyas today heads Fulfilment. Abi heads Solutions. The rest of the people in my team came in laterally. It is a great mix and people in Moolya see that age or number of years of experience is not what gives people growth. It is true the ability to learn fast and unlearn super fast.
Culture is the toughest things to build. Culture can take the company far.
We thank Pradeep for his time and energy to do this amazing interview. Stay tuned to hear from more Speakers.