Reflections on a year at TRI

Hi,


My name is Finn, and I am a Software Test Engineer at Triumph Research Ltd, and I’ve just finished my first year in the workplace. The following is an informal reflection on my experiences, lessons-learnt and ambitions for my future at the company.


I started life here as an Assistant Project Manager to Becky Read, working on the UI of our newest product: OPRA 5. This was a much-appreciated head-first nose-dive into the world of software testing, where I was told off the bat “break everything you can… this software needs to be fool-proof so you’re going to help us find all the bugs there are”.


And we did, OPRA 5 became my life for the next few months as we started the first UK lockdown following the pandemic. I became familiar with every page, every button and all the functionality on that software, to the point where I was later guiding my colleagues through certain areas of complexity.


I feel that I learnt from the best. Becky is exceptionally detailed and knowledgeable in subject areas that were completely new to me, at times the pace was a little hard to keep up with, but it really framed my expectations for life at TRI and how on-the-ball we need to be each day. Working with computers really teaches you how much man errs. But ultimately there was a huge amount of effort put into OPRA 5 and I’m really proud of the small part I played in its release.


The second stage of my time at TRI saw me change roles to become what I am, now, a Software Test Engineer. I was introduced to this by Michael McGlinchey and Paul Kelleher, both of whom work in the testing side of the business to ensure that our product does what it says on the tin. I became familiar with many of the statistical models we use and the Central Monitoring Setup of OPRA 5, running dummy-studies to mimic real-life clinical data. I was introduced to Azure Test Plans and the execution of end-to-end testing and Validation. Much of which blew my mind at the time but is now an everyday thing.


This stage of my time at TRI was much more collaborative, working with a diverse range of (extremely intelligent) other testers. With whom among conversations regarding Poisson models and Console Elements were also learning opportunities to share cooking recipes and other areas of our cultures. Despite never having physically met any of those who I work with, I feel that I have created a strong rapport and overall connection with my colleagues at TRI, regardless of age, gender, seniority, or geography. One of the things that surprised me when I began here was that working from home was already an established standard of TRI; the majority of employees here aren’t based in Cambridge, but all over the UK (with I, myself in Glasgow) and are used to online communication and the more-independent manner that working from home creates. Following the end of Validation for OPRA 5 I’ve moved into more of a data testing position, learning about automation, programming and the various languages needed to communicate with computers. These last two months have really challenged me, in that I’m exposed to new information, daily, and am being introduced to more important, real-life data as I progress through my learning.


And ultimately, I love that. Having come from a BA in International Business with Economics and Management, I really enjoy being able to learn about this industry and the world of Clinical Trials. My education had often emphasised how the modern workplace is uneven, gender-biased or nepotistic, but these haven’t been my conclusions over the last year. In fact, despite the industry averages for a low number of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics careers), TRI appears to break that trend with there being a gender split approximately double the industry standard (WISE Campaign, 2020), especially for women in senior management positions.


This has made me feel optimistic that the modern workplace is not the humdrum tinkering inside a concrete-jungle that many academics have made students believe, or at least not so everywhere. While there are certainly ways to go in making the modern work environment a much more equal and inclusive place, it’s endearing to see that efforts are being made to right those wrongs, even in SMEs (those statistically least likely to make radical, progressive change (Isensee, et al, 2020)).


In the future, I hope to continue my learning here by building up my knowledge of relevant programming, effective software testing and all of the other complexities that this job entails. I also look forward to meeting my colleagues, in person, someday and truly establishing myself a member of TRI.


- Finn


References:

Isensee, C., Teuteberg, F., Griese, K., and Topi, C. (2020) “The relationship between organizational culture, sustainability, and digitalization in SMEs: A systematic review”, Journal of Cleaner Production, Vol. 275.

WISE Campaign (2020) “Updated Workforce Statistics to September 2020” [Available Online here: https://www.wisecampaign.org.uk/statistics/updated-workforce-statistics-to-september-2020/]