In this exclusive interview with Manning Global Alex discusses bringing 4G to the UK, the new era of MNOs and the impact of AI on telecoms, plus shows you how to build strong relationships with stakeholders that allow you to fix issues over a coffee instead of a boardroom table!
Please could you give a brief summary of your career journey that led you to become Delivery Director of Qualitest…
Around 15 years ago I started my journey with Qualitest as a summer placement with a company called TCL (Which was later acquired by Qualitest). Since then, I’ve had many roles, starting as a Junior Test Engineer then moving up to a Test Team lead, Test Manager, Service Manager, Delivery Manager and then to my position now as a Delivery Director.
What’s the most important aspect of your role as Delivery Director?
First, ensuring my team is happy and fulfilled. Second, ensuring my clients are getting the service they need from Qualitest. When these two things align then it makes anything we do much easier!
Please can you tell our readers more about your company: its structure, how you operate as a business, plus how your model differs to that of other worldwide software testing companies…
Qualitest is the world’s largest pure play software testing company. Testing is all we do and we do it very well! Our main drive from the exec team is ‘customer centricity’ meaning that we are always looking for ways to bring innovation to clients that will be truly impactful. One thing that has always worked well for us is how we gel with clients. I’ve seen numerous instances where there is a heavy contract that sits between the supplier and the client. We do our best to stay away from the ‘In our contract it’s stated that xyz’ conversations. Instead, we build strong relationships with stakeholders that allow us to fix issues over a coffee instead of a boardroom table.
You have over 15+ years’ experience in telecoms. What would you say has been the biggest technological advancement in those years?
I don’t think it’ll be much of a surprise to anyone when I say the data network advancements are immense. When we helped launch 4G here in the UK it was exciting, and now with the journey to 5G underway it’s only getting more interesting. Of course, the devices using the networks now are also amazing bits of hardware.
What excites you the most about the future of telecoms?
I think we’re entering a new era for MNOs, they are already a vital part of day-to-day life for many people, but with 5G technology and the ramp up of IoT devices we’ll start to see telco impacting other industries more than ever before. I’m excited to see what innovation will come out of the low latency high speed 5G network from customers that might not be historically heavy users of a mobile network.
From a technology point of view, as with many other industries, the impact of AI will be huge for telecoms, using both NFV/SDN and AI technologies to be able to spin up capacity on the fly when resource demand increases is an exciting solution. It brings forward new testing challenges that Qualitest is heavily investing in.
Test Manager, Consultant, Delivery Director… that’s a lot of roles and skills, which are your favourites?
I’ve enjoyed each role and the different challenges they have brought, my current role being the most exciting yet! I’m able to keep close to technology whilst being able to work with clients at a business development level to deploy innovative solutions, meeting client requirements. Being able to help drive strategy for both Qualitest and our clients is very exciting!
What are your thoughts on 5G and how do you feel it will benefit businesses and consumers going forward?
5G has been on the horizon for some time, and It’s being delivered sooner than originally thought. It’s not just about data speeds: it’s about low latency high capacity networks.
Speaking of advancements in tech, what are your thoughts on AI?
AI is a game changer for almost every industry; testing is no different. There are two ways of looking at AI: how do we test AI, and how do we use AI to help us test? Concerns are also arising in the testing field. Similar to when automation was becoming ‘mainstream’, there’s a belief that AI will replace testers. However, Qualitest proves that assumption false. There will be slightly different roles created from advancements in AI, but the role of a tester is still vital.
What’s your proudest working accomplishment?
From a technical perspective, being part of the team that first rolled out 4G in the UK was amazing. On a personal level, the graduate program that we designed to bring in graduates to the telecom testing world has been very fulfilling for me.
Enough about business – let’s get to know the real Alex… what are your hobbies outside of work?
I’m a big fan of gaming, though I don’t get as much time to play these days! I love to travel and I’m a big fan of food, both eating and cooking, mainly eating though…
Finally, what’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
If you haven’t made a mistake recently, you’re not trying hard enough!