Brian Smyth

Head of Functional Testing, SQS

Degree BSc in Computer Applications (CIT)
Job title Head of Functional Testing
Employer SQS

What led to your choice of career and why?

My degree covered a wide range of subjects from programming, networking, databases, testing and more. This provided me a broad range of IT knowledge and skills that still stand to me know. As part of my degree course we studied a module on Software Testing/Quality Assurance. It was something that perked my interest straightaway and I quickly realised that I was enjoying learning about this module more than others. The course also provided six months industry placement in 3rd year. The experience from this placement was invaluable and allowed me to see how business actually operates on a day to day basis. Upon leaving college, I knew this was the career path for me and I set about finding the right company that could match my ambitions, and I’ve found that at SQS.

Your current role

My current role is Head of the Functional Test Service within SQS. This involves managing a team of over 100 consultants with responsibility to deliver high quality, cost effective, innovative solutions to our clients while building strong and authentic client relationships. With such a large team, my aim is to develop an environment that allows all members no matter what grade, the opportunity to get involved, promote knowledge sharing, improve our processes and work collaboratively to achieve our objectives. I am also Client Engagement Manager for one of our largest clients in Ireland with responsibility for ensuring all aspects of client delivery and management are achieved around service delivery, planning and resourcing, stakeholder management and financial governance.

Further training and study

Training and self-study form an important part of my career. As a consultant, my daily life involves interacting with new and existing clients and managing large teams. As a result, I focus a lot of my training/study on improving my soft skills, leadership, mentoring, coaching and stakeholder management. SQS invest heavily in this area and offer a wide range of courses and training to all our consultants. In addition, working in the IT sector where the environment changes extremely quickly, it is important to keep my skills and knowledge up to date with emerging trends and technologies. I spend a lot of time reading and researching around this area to ensure I don’t get left behind.

What do you feel is the strongest asset you have brought to your current position and how did you develop this skill?

My strongest assets would be my flexibility and adaptability. As mentioned earlier, with the rapid developments in the IT sector it is important that we are flexible and adaptable to new innovations or processes. As Test Manager on a very high profile projects for a number of years, delivering successful solutions for our clients against extremely tight deadlines, I quickly developed these skills by working collaboratively with Developers, Business Analysts, Project Managers, Solution Designers and business users. The Project work environment and the many challenges that it brings, taught me that the only way to achieve positive results is to be open and flexible to all ideas which help us achieve our deadlines.

Tips and advice

There are a large number of graduates entering the workplace every year so it is important that you make yourself stand out. An impressive CV is a must, but it will only get you so far. Companies are looking for graduates that are passionate and knowledgeable about the job they are applying for. Take the time to think about what career you want, where you want your career to take you in the future and work on your soft skills to ensure the passion comes out during your interview. This will separate you from other candidates and ultimately lead to a successful outcome for you and your employer.

Brian Smyth was interviewed for the gradireland IT sector guide 2015