Hezron Padlan is a QA specialist with more than 12 years of experience. Although Hezron had a tech background, a moment of fortune brought him to QA. He has never regretted his choice and has continued on this path, gaining knowledge every day. Today Hezron is not only a trainer at Careerist but also hires his own teams as an active player in the tech field.
Could you please tell us more about your journey?
Yeah, sure. Actually, it’s the 13th year of my tech career. After graduation, I started working at Accenture, where I’ve already been for 11 years. I’ve worked with clients like Bank of America and Google in Mountain View, California. I’m from the Philippines and had an opportunity to work in the US in 2014. After six years in the US on a work visa, I returned to the Philippines and continued my job from there. Having experience in design, I switched to freelancing. I also worked for a year and a half with one company based in Dubai.
And now you have moved to Canada, right?
Yes. I moved to Canada in July 2022 and processed my papers as a permanent resident. I have been moving toward that since late 2020, but the COVID situation delayed my documents.
And regarding your path in tech, which started many years ago, what was the most challenging thing for you?
QA people need to be adaptable because QA applies to different industries, while developers should be proficient in specific programming tools, focusing on fewer things. As a QA, you can work in various industries, as I did.
The most challenging things were jumping from one project to another, learning everything from scratch, and working with new people in a new environment. However, as long as you explore new opportunities, you can grow and gain new friends and skills.
Yeah, you mentioned you had been working at Google and other big companies. What was the most interesting thing about working there?
First of all, it’s the company culture. With Google, it’s what you see in a movie. I was just a contractor back then, and I couldn’t feel the culture as much as a full-time employee, but I still noticed. The first thing you’ll see is you don’t need to wear a suit and tie. On the contrary, working at Bank of America, we were required to follow a dress code since we were located downtown.
The products were just fascinating, and being a part of something new and innovative was great. I enjoyed learning about the product and testing it.
Do you remember your first interview for a QA role? How did it go?
I had a hard time choosing between working at just one company or working simultaneously at different companies. Accenture made me an offer almost the moment I got my first job offer.
It was just like a regular interview with more HR questions — nothing technical. The basic interview was like, “What do you know about this thing? Walk me through how the testing life cycle works.” All those things. So yeah, those are my experiences with interviews.
At Accenture, they didn’t know my role right away. In the beginning, newcomers go through training, and then they’re assigned a role. I decided to join Accenture since it’s a multinational company, which would be good exposure for me. I didn’t know if I would be assigned to QA or testing capability for a few weeks. To be honest, I was looking forward to becoming a developer because I have a computer science and information technology background.
Were you very nervous about it? Or were you just fine?
About the interview? Yes. Even while I had a job in the US, I was still doing job interviews. It was practice and a way to keep myself “in shape.” The constant practice makes you feel more at ease with interviews and reduces the feeling of awkwardness.
I see. And you said you are working as a freelancer now — how does your everyday routine look?
Although I’m a freelancer now, I’m doing a full-time job again. Initially, I wasn’t that busy, but they offered me a busier schedule after eight or nine months.
I always start with higher-priority tasks. It might be creating test cases, executing test cases, reviewing defects or bugs, retesting ghosts, attending meetings, and so on. It varies depending on the priority for that specific day. Anyway, it’s always the life cycle. Sometimes you do execution. Occasionally, you do planning in between testing bugs. I would say in a day, a week, or a month, the tasks I need to do are always changing.
Did you hire any personnel for your team?
When I started as a freelancer, I was absorbed. In the beginning, I was the company’s only employee in the Philippines. My teammates were located all over the continent — and indeed, the world: India, Europe, and the Middle East. I was excited to expand the team in the Philippines.
The customer assigned me to do some searches in the Philippines, so I started looking for QA specialists. I interviewed people, reviewed their resumes, and asked them questions. I managed to hire two or three people, and I have to admit two of them are very successful.
Oh, that’s interesting. What were the key traits you wanted in new employees? What were the most important qualities they needed to have?
In this case, I always mirror myself. First comes the attitude and personality, then the knowledge and experience. The skills mean nothing unless you have the right attitude.
The next step is the case questions — the ability to think outside the box. Some of my favorite questions to ask were: “What’s your favorite bug? After going through a thousand possible solutions, what did the actual bug turn out to be?” These questions work because you see the situation’s potential and the candidate’s overall reaction.
Lastly, I want to spot talent proactivity because I’m the type of person who likes to improve the team workflow. That was why I asked the candidates to start doing some automation or just scrape documentation at first. So these are my personal top three. Of course, the candidates should also align with the company in terms of technical skills.
So you are teaching Manual Quality Assurance. What do you enjoy about teaching? What part of it is most important for you?
I always helped train new hires, which gave me a sense of being effective. Teaching at Careerist was a funny story. It seemed to be a scam at first because even in terms of teaching vacancies, it looked too good to be true. But I went through the interview process, and I don’t regret choosing to be part of a team of professionals coaching the next generation of QA specialists. That is the moment I most understand our students’ situation of being at the very start of something new.
We’re happy to hear you enjoy working at Careerist. Do you enjoy it from a teacher’s perspective? What was unusual or new for you?
The classes are online sessions, and I’m not used to seeing my face or hearing myself talk for two hours straight. Like, I cringe hearing myself and seeing my own face. That was the first challenge. I was able to build up my confidence. So that is one takeaway from teaching at Careerist.
The second challenge is making sure people with zero tech background understand you.
I need to avoid using very technical language that might confuse the crowd. Another thing was the time zone. Living in the Philippines, I started my class at 8:30 a.m., and it was hard because I’m not a morning person at all. After moving to Canada, it got much better.
Working with future testers, I always think positively. A person who is good at QA is a person who has a set of specific skills, especially attention to detail. These are some of the parameters that QA lays out. For example, you find a bug using a Facebook application. Here your QA personality starts in by asking, “Hey, why is this in production? Why hasn’t it been tested? Did you see it during the testing phase?”
I see. Many people are still afraid of switching careers and going into tech. Sometimes the fear of having zero technical background takes over. What advice would you give people deciding whether to change careers or not?
I suppose we often have this misunderstanding of what tech involves. When people learn about your job in tech, they might ask you something like, “Hey, can you hack this account? Can you cut this profile? Could you fix my computer?” The majority have no idea that tech is a big umbrella of various specialties and capabilities.
If you want to become a part of this umbrella, researching tech careers is the perfect starting point. It’s important to find what interests you and find your passion in general.
I agree; many people mistakenly think you need a substantial background in tech. In fact, many professions don’t require any tech knowledge at all.
You cannot be a programmer, a QA, and a PM at the same time. You need to look for an exciting specialization that is likely to become your passion.
Returning to your favorite interview question, how would you answer this question?
Yeah, sure. I like specific bugs that I can investigate. If I encounter a bug, I usually look at the logs first to trace why it’s causing the issue. Solving this always makes me feel great. Whenever the developers say I spotted it correctly, it makes me even happier. I just love to find bugs.
Thanks for giving us a peek behind the curtain and sharing your background. Your story is proof that Quality Assurance is for everyone. Anyone might find it interesting because it often awakens your curiosity and turns your job into a sort of game. We hope you never lose interest in your job and bring many more fascinating moments to our students.