Get to Know Your ASTQB Board

Rex Black
President, RBCS, a worldwide test consulting, outsourcing, and training firm

Volunteer Role in ASTQB
ISTQB Representative

Describe what led you to your career in testing.

Like many testers, I fell into it. I had worked as a programmer for sophisticated financial and scientific applications, and answered an ad looking for someone to create automated tests for Unix systems. I found I was good at the technical aspects of testing, and gradually rose into test management roles.

Describe your greatest challenge in testing.

The greatest technical challenge in testing is the selection problem: How does one select, from an infinite number of possible tests, the finite set of tests that will maximize the value of testing, especially given that it is impossible to know in advance which tests will pass and which will fail? The greatest management challenge is the value problem: How does one identify the objectives of testing for a given organization, define proper metrics for effectiveness, efficiency, and elegance for those objectives, and set realistic goals for those metrics? These two challenges come up over and over again with our most mature clients, so it's fair to say that they are universal, difficult challenges for testing. That's what makes these problems interesting to work on.

You have served as the president of ISTQB as well as ASTQB. Describe why you volunteer your time to grow and develop ISTQB Certification.

On a personal level, since I have been successful in testing, I feel an obligation to give something back to it. On a professional level, I have observed that, as engineering fields mature and as their products become more integrated into people's lives, the risks associated with those products increase. Societies often respond to these risks with regulations. Professions such as law, medicine, and other types of engineering have been allowed to be mostly self-regulating, because they got in front of these risks, created qualification mechanisms, and developed ways to self-regulate effectively. I see developing qualification mechanisms and self-regulating standards for quality and testing as part of how software engineering evolves into a similarly self-regulating profession.

Why did you choose the ISTQB Certification rather than other types of testing certifications?

One major strength of the ISTQB certification is the broad consensus it represents, spanning continents, countries, technologies, and business domains. With the wealth of experience of the ISTQB, it truly represents the best practices of our field, not just a few people's opinions. Another major strength is its vendor-neutral position. Training is not required to take an ISTQB exam, and no particular tool, lifecycle, or maturity model is favored.

Where have you lived?

I've travelled around the world, and spent time with lots of testers and software professionals on many continents. It's one of the major advantages of being an international consultant.

Describe what led you to ISTQB Certification.

I carefully evaluated the other test certifications first. While each of them had good ideas, none of them could offer the vendor-neutrality, breadth of provenance, agility in incorporating new ideas in testing, and democratic governance that is the tradition and strength of the ISTQB.