…or trying to adapt to the inevitability of change.
Change is a reality of life common to all things; we all must adapt to change or risk obsolescence. I try to look at change as a defining moment, an opportunity to reflect, to learn, and to make an impact. It is in these moments that I reflect on the road I’ve traveled and attempt to gain clarity of the road ahead. This is where I find myself today.
How Did I Get Here?
In my younger days I wasted years in college jumping from program to program before eventually dropping out. I obviously did not know what I wanted to do with my life and I wasn’t going to spend thousands of dollars while I figured it out. This led to a frank and difficult discussion with my parents about my future which resulted in me enlisting in the Canadian military. As it happens, this provided me the space I needed to think about what I wanted to do going forward, who I wanted to be.
I served for three years before moving back to Ontario to pursue a degree in software development at the college I left previously. I had chosen a path toward working in the software industry. I had come to terms with a reality that I would likely end up working on some proprietary code that I didn’t entirely care for, but that would pay the bills and I would be happier than I was as a soldier.
After a couple of years following this path I met David Humphrey, a man who would change my life by introducing me to the world of open source software development. On a whim, I attended his crash-course, sacrificing my mid-semester week off. It was here that discovered a passion for contributing to an open source project.
Up until this point I was pretty ignorant about open source. I had been using Linux for a couple years but I didn’t identify it as “open source”; it was merely a free as in beer alternative to Windows. At this point I hadn’t even heard of Mozilla Firefox. It was David who opened my eyes to this world; a world of continuous learning and collaboration, contributing to a freer and more open web. I quickly realized that choosing this path was about more than a job opportunity, more than a career; I was committing myself to world view and my part to play in shaping it.
Over the last eight years I have continued to follow this path, from volunteering nights at school, through internships, a contract position, and finally full-time employment in 2010.
Change is a way of life at Mozilla
Since I began my days at Mozilla I have always been part of the same team. Over the years I have seen my team change dramatically but it has always felt like home.
We started as a small team of specialists working as a cohesive unit on a single product. Over time Mozilla’s product offering grew and so did the team, eventually leading to multiple sub-teams being formed. As time moved on and demands grew, we were segmented into specialized teams embedded on different products. We were becoming more siloed but it still felt like we were all part of the QA machine.
This carried on for a couple of years but I began to feel my connection to people I no longer worked with weaken. As this feeling of disconnectedness grew, my passion for what I was working on decreased. Eventually I felt like I was just going through the motions. I was demoralized and drifting.
This all changed for me again last year when Clint Talbert, our newly appointed Director and a mentor of mine since the beginning, developed a vision for tearing down those silos. It appeared as though we were going to get back to what made us great: a connected group of specialists. I felt nostalgic for a brief moment. Unfortunately this would not come to pass.
Moving into 2015 our team began to change again. After “losing” the B2G QA folks to the B2G team in 2014, we “lost” the Web and Services QA folks to the Cloud Services team. Sure the people were still here but it felt like my connection to those people was severed. It then became a waiting game, an inevitability that this trend would continue, as it did this week.
The Road Ahead
Recently I’ve had to come to terms with the reality of some departures from Mozilla. People I’ve held dear for, and sought mentorship from, for many years have decided to move on as they open new chapters in their lives. I have seen many people come and go over the years but those more recently have been difficult to swallow. I know they are moving on to do great things and I’m extremely happy for them, but I’ll also miss them intensely.
Over the years I’ve gone from reviewing add-ons to testing features to driving releases to leading the quality program for the launch of Firefox Hello. I’ve grown a lot over the years and the close relationships I’ve held with my peers are the reason for my success.
Starting this week I am no longer a part of a centralized QA team, I am now the sole QA member of the DOM engineering team. While this is likely one of the more disruptive and challenging changes I’ve ever experienced, it’s also exciting to me.
Overcoming the Challenge
As I reflect on this entire experience I become more aware of my growth and the opportunity that has been presented. It is an opportunity to learn, to develop new bonds, to impact Mozilla’s mission in new and exciting ways. I will remain passionate and engaged as long as this opportunity exists. However, this change does not come without risk.
The greatest risk to Mozilla is if we are unable to maintain our comradery, to share our experiences, to openly discuss our challenges, to engage participation, and to visualize the broader quality picture. We need to strengthen our bonds, even as we go our separate ways. The QA team meeting will become ever more important as we become more decentralized and I hope that it continues.
Looking Back, Looking Forward
I’ve experienced a lot of change in my life and it never gets any less scary. I can’t help but fear reaching another “drifting point”. However, I’ve also learned that change is inevitable and that I reach my greatest potential by adapting to it, not fighting it.
I’m entering a new chapter in my life as a Mozillian and I’m excited for the road ahead.