Profiles in QE: Dina Gamboni
Profiles in Quality Engineering: Dina A. Gamboni
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Almost everybody loves to learn new things, right? It’s part of that natural curiosity that makes us human. (Well, or feline, but that’s another story!) Some people like to gain expert knowledge and become specialists in their field, always diving deeper. Some strive to make it to the very very top. Some like to take a little taste of everything out there they possibly can. That’s me! Salesforce would call my personality type “The Adventure Seeker,” and I definitely identify with that label. I do like gaining expert knowledge, and at the same time I get restless doing the same thing too long. As such, I’ve had a really exciting and varied career, including being an Urban Park Ranger and nature guide; an activist and campus organizer; a technical writer and a logic problems editor; a social worker; and, of course, a software tester. On the personal front, I’m a puzzle fan — from jigsaw to crossword to collaborative games like Hanabi — and also enjoy cooking, especially trying out new recipes in my Instant Pot or making backpacking food in my dehydrator. I’m passionate about nature and the environment and love birding, traveling, and hiking really, really, really, long distances.
Why did you get started in software testing?
I spent the majority of my career(s) working in varying capacities at nonprofits and schools. However, almost universally, along with my direct-service duties, I found myself as the go-to person to help with technical problems, software installations, and writing projects. I was known as someone with keen attention to detail and a low tolerance for mistakes (who also actually enjoyed editing others’ work!) When two friends who were VPs of Software Development at a large company needed a designated QE for their team, they said, “Dina finds mistakes in the New York Times, let’s see if she’s interested!” I was, and hit the ground running. I learned everything I could at that first true tech job : SQL, HTML, and the QA tools popular at the time, like Quality Center and the IBM Rational suite. In between, I got my Master’s in Social Work at San Francisco State University. A career at Salesforce.org, helping to design the software used by the institutions I’d worked with for so long, was a logical next step.
What is the best bug you ever found, and why do you feel it was your best?
I feel like I’m more known for finding those “Is this really a bug?”-type bugs. You know, the spelling errors, missing periods, wonky alignment, inconsistencies, and other examples of poor user experience. (Hey, I want a stellar, quality product, y’hear!) But I’ve had some truly show-stopping finds before, as well. For example, I worked on a very complicated product in the solar industry, where we charted things like inverter power and energy usage over time, down to the battery cell level. The devs implemented the requirements such that some of the graphs were backwards — i.e., showing negative when it should show positive. Everybody missed this, including the technical engineers who designed the system! It was a big feather in my cap.
What projects are you working on at Salesforce.org?
I’ve been lucky to work on several of Salesforce.org’s products. I started out as a QE on the Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP), quickly becoming the lead QE on my scrum team. NPSP is a great product to become acquainted with the Salesforce platform, and to better garner how SFDO’s open-source ethos informs development. I then moved over to the Education Cloud, working on Salesforce Advisor Link (SAL). With SAL, I better learned how Salesforce developers use Lightning components to build Apps on top of the Salesforce platform. Now I’m tackling our Higher Education Data Architecture (HEDA) product to further round out my knowledge. My goal is to gain experience cross-cloud, in Salesforce.org’s complete offerings, becoming a reliable resource for all our teams.
What are you most excited about when it comes to software testing?
I love how, depending on your team, your QE position can become what you make of it. I really enjoy working cross-functionally with Product Managers, UX Designers, Technical Writers, and Developers to ensure quality right from the beginning. When these team members start asking my opinion and calling for my input on design and implementation, well, that’s when I know I’ve arrived! I also really enjoy taking new QE hires under my wing, introducing them to folks, showing them the ropes and helping them to become acquainted with our products and processes. Salesforce has a huge, overwhelming ecosystem and onboarding process, and it can be easy to feel a little lost in the beginning. Having a “buddy” can make a big difference, especially for a remote team. On top of that, I find writing clear, concise documents (aka “D’s Cheat-Sheets”), giving demos, and making screen-casts is a really fun aspect of the job.
Is there anything else you’d like to say or share?
If you’ve never walked 10+ miles a day for 30 or more days, I highly recommend putting it on your bucket list!