A day in the life of Sabana Danga blog The 6:30 a.m. alarm snaps me awake – but it could be worse. As the mother of three, including an 18 month old, 6:30 seems something of a lie in compared to how it used to be!
I work part time, three days a week – something I switched to after baby number two came along – but every morning is a blur of frenzied activity as we get the two older children ready for the day. Once they’re on the way to school (my husband does the morning school run) I have a bit of breakfast while logging in and checking emails.
Mornings are always busy. They tend to be a mix of leadership calls, resourcing discussions and meetings with colleagues on various projects.
More recently I’ve been focusing quite heavily on test planning with one of our big clients.  I have a decade of software testing experience at BAE Systems and I have recently became engineering lead and Delegation of Authority within our National Security and Law Enforcement account.
Software testing is important for so many reasons. Our lives are surrounded by technology, so if all tech was of poor quality, clunky, slow and vulnerable to security breaches, imagine what a frustrated world would we would live in? But that’s where software development comes in. We want to ensure that defects are uncovered prior to systems going live because if they remain hidden until something has gone operational then real problems can ensue.
For example, in February 2020 more than 100 flights to and from Heathrow airport were disrupted due to a software issue in their departure boards and check-in system. This may have been a result of a lack of integration testing whilst doing their software update. And only last year Tesla recalled 54,000 of their cars due to their self-drive software not stopping at red lights.
The software we develop and test at BAE Systems can often be mission critical or critical to life so even using a risk based approach to testing would not be sufficient. This is why we raise all manner of questions during test planning and test execution to make sure that delivery is to a high quality standard – here’s a small selection:
  • Will I use a scenario based approach?
  • How will I generate representative data?
  • Does my solution need be to be tested on multiple devices?
  • Is the solution running on a secure network?
  • Is the solution suited to a risk-based approach?
As these questions are explored, review feedback from clients prompts further discussion and triaging. For me, this is all balanced out around things like afternoon naps and the school run, which is something I take care of.
For several years I was doing the role of Global Head of Test Profession, managing a community of several hundred test engineers, best practices and processes. What an experience that was! And even now, a lot of my afternoon is taken up with resourcing issues – making sure that we have the right people on the right accounts at the right time. This incorporates not only the needs of our clients – which are always evolving Sabana Danga – but also speaking to career managers to make sure that we are fulfilling the career aspirations of our colleagues. We always want to make sure we are giving them the opportunity to make forward progress.
I predominately work from home but I go into the office once or twice a week. It’s great to see people in the flesh and catch up, and it really helps collaboration. Since becoming an engineering lead I essentially do all the engineering assurance and coming into the office in London is a chance to reconnect with colleagues based across our network of UK offices.
I’m also part of our engineering council, our leadership council, as well as the hybrid working group. So I generally have quite a few meetings throughout the week outside of my account responsibilities.
When I’m at home the children do after school clubs, which are a good way of keeping them busy and also minimising distractions as the working day winds down.
After dinner is when I try and get some exercise. I’m going to be walking a night marathon in a couple of months and so in the evenings, when I get the time, I pop out to do some training – normally attempting a minimum of five miles.
These walks are a chance to reset, renew, refresh and rejuvenate. They are where I do my best thinking and they give me the chance to chart my way to further advances for our clients and teams alike.
It’s helpful to think of software testing as akin to a long and fascinating river. It twists and turns through defects, test automation and disaster recovery, flowing through happy paths, FATS (Factory Acceptance Testing), UATs (User Acceptance Testing) and performance bottlenecks, before reaching the estuary of going live without hindrance or interruption. At least that’s how it works in theory.
The fact that problems occasionally arise is what keeps our teams innovative and bold – and that’s exactly how we like it! 
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About the author
Sabana Danga is NS Fundamental Engineering Lead (ex Head of Software Test Profession) at BAE Systems Digital Intelligence 
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Sabana Danga

NS Fundamental Engineering Lead, BAE Systems Digital Intelligence