• TLF

2018 Assurance Leadership Summit

Updated: Aug 12, 2019

April 2018, London.

Keynote: Liz Keogh, "An Introduction to Cynefin"

Whenever we do anything new, we make discoveries. Sometimes those discoveries speed us up, but more often than not they slow us down. The more innovative we are, the more we discover, and the higher the risk and uncertainty - so how can we lead, manage and work in a way which embraces that uncertainty and lets us make discoveries early and safely?

In this talk, Liz introduces the Cynefin framework to help make sense of different types of situations and how to approach them: the obvious ones, the complicated ones which require expertise, the complex ones in which outcomes emerge, and the chaotic ones that we're usually trying to avoid. Find out how the simple concepts can help us counter our innate human desire for predictability, enabling change and innovation; not just in software development, but in every aspect of our lives.


Liz Keogh is a Lean and Agile consultant based in London. She is a well-known blogger and international speaker, a core member of the BDD community and a passionate advocate of the Cynefin framework and its ability to change mindsets. She has a strong technical background with 20 years’ experience in delivering value and coaching others to deliver, from small start-ups to global enterprises. Most of her work now focuses on Lean, Agile and organizational transformations, and the use of transparency, positive language, well-formed outcomes and safe-to-fail experiments in making change innovative, easy and fun.

Keynote: Susie Maguire, Founder, The story of your life : “Where there’s a William - How to get a miracle and what to do with it once you have

Susie Maguire travelled the world with her teddy bear William for years, even taking him to work with her on her global consulting projects (where clients doted on him). As in the tale of the Velveteen Rabbit, who gets his dream to be “real”, Susie’s bear becomes real too, when her son William, the child she was told she would never have, is born. This is a story of magic and miracles and the power of holding tight to your dreams.


Susie is a apeaker, Author, Illustrator, Consultant, Coach specialising in personal and corporate transformations.

She has been consulting with organisations in transition and in the midst of major transformations for 30 years. She has worked alongside internal teams to create phenomenal hearts and minds engagement amongst up to 25,000 people on a global scale. Her clients have included Ericsson, Philips, Unilever, PepsiCo, Compaq/HP, STMicroeclectronics, Mitel Semiconductor, The BAA and Facebook. She also works with private clients to support them in making big, personal life changes.

Adam Smith, Piccadilly Group: “Testing for Bias”

AI and machine learning introduce complex algorithms which affect our daily life. Despite all the benefits of AI they are inherently biased, and there are risks that are introduced which can manifest themselves as bias towards customers or users, in the form of racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination. These areas are starting to be regulated, and some organisations are calling for these technologies to be banned in some high risk areas. Ultimately and practically it will be up to testers to verify whether AI is operating legally and fairly. This issue is explored in detail by Adam who proposes a framework for the ethical testing of AI.


Adam has sixteen years’ experience and and has held senior technology roles at Barclays and Deutsche Bank delivering large complex transformation projects, and is now CTO of Piccadilly Group, the UK's leading test and intelligence consultancy for financial services. Piccadilly Group helps a range of financial institutions with large scale technology change programmes and Adam often leads large teams to reach complex goals.

As well as client projects, Adam drives internal innovation and R&D at Piccadilly Group, which is currently focussed on how AI can disrupt management within a technology sector with an annual spend of half a trillion dollars. Adam and Piccadilly Group believe that middle management is an important and under-valued target for disruption with AI technologies, and that we need the equivalent of a Sat-Nav to help manage an enterprise technology function.

Adam lives in Barcelona, Spain, and describes himself as one part executive, one part entrepreneur and one part geek.

Dr Andrew Brown, SQS: “Is psychology of software development coming of age?"

Our focus in software development is, understandably, on technical challenges. Although we acknowledge that defects begin as a thought in our mind, we rarely go beyond this.

However, things may be beginning to change. Led by the aviation and medical industries, where consequences of mistakes can be serious, we are learning that instead of searching for errors after they occur, we can reduce our vulnerability to creating errors in the first place.

We take an example from an Agile team in the insurance sector, who have been using cognitive de-biasing techniques to improve effectiveness of retrospectives. We examine the issues they faced, their successes, and their failures.

We then move into a discussion of the potential opportunities, limitations, and side effects we may encounter in trying to improve quality through reducing our mind’s vulnerability to cognitive biases.


Dr Andrew Brown is a principal technical consultant at SQS. Recently, he has developed an independent line of research into understanding why we humans make the mistakes that lead to software defects.

He has 25 years’ experience in the software industry. Previous roles include Head of QA at HMV, Head of QA at a financial software house and a test manager in Japan.

He holds a degree in Physics and Maths, an MBA from Warwick Business School and a doctorate from Imperial College.

Ben Fry, John Shortt, Expert Thinking: “Assuring your migration to a cloud enabled environment”

Everyone’s doing it. Very few are doing it well. Cloud, that is. Migrating to cloud is far more than moving assets from one tech stack to another. Yes, that is critical to success. At the same time as migrating your assets (network and infra, VMs, platforms, databases, storage, etc.), you’ve a very real (once in a lifetime) opportunity to rationalise and optimise your estate. Moving to a cloud enabled environment isn’t so much about technology itself but how it’s used, provisioned and consumed. You need to change the way you work – the proverbial cloud or digital transformation. Migrating to a cloud enabled environment presents huge potential benefit that very few are realising. Never before has the need for assurance in the purest sense of the word been an absolute must!


Ben Fry, John Short and the rest of the Expert Thinking ( team help organisations maximise the value and benefit of their investment in cloud. The team brings together decades of experience successfully delivering ‘cloud’ in many different forms to mid-market and global enterprises, government and non-profit organisations, and helps clients successfully implement the technology, reengineer processes and coach teams to use cloud in anger, unlocking the real power of cloud to deliver real business benefit.

Deri Jones, CEO SciVisum: “12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos

At it's worst, our projects feel like chaos; 'The best laid plans of mice and men....'. Assurance is one of the key headings under which we reduce the likelihood of chaos, to get a good outcome; or at least a good-enough outcome. And repeatedly. We'll take one of the hottest new books: 12 Rules for Life, and apply the rules to our how we practise Assurance.

"Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today” Our companies are just not the same in any way as Amazon or Facebook… so lets’s stop trying to copy, and instead, measure ourselves and ensure we’re improving “Pursue what is meaningful (not what is expedient) “ As Assurance people, we are uniquely positioned to remind the whole organisation of what is meaningful, what is important to our customers. Or are we perceived as risk-averse Cassandras?! We may even watch a few minutes of the most watched Channel-4 news interview ever: to see if the substance that caused 8M viewers, has something for the practise of assurance."


After Electronics at Cambridge University, and roles in ThickFilm semiconductors, and fibre-optic systems, spending time in the Far East; Deri moved to Canterbury in 1993 to head up the UK’s first ISP: 3 engineers, from the University of Kent computer lab. Companies were modem-dialling Canterbury for email and newsgroups. Deri grew the organisation until acquisition, and in 1997 he set up an internet security specialist, and grew the company to 25 staff before acquisition in 2002. In 2003 he set up SciVisum now a sector leader partnering with UK household names to de-risk and accelerate their digital growth through putting CX first when and monitoring & testing rapidly changing web systems. An occassional public speaker, Deri also runs a discussion group for deep-thinkers, speaks German at home, plays electric guitar, edits Wikipedia, cycles to work even in the snow, debates societal parallels between Islam, Christianity and Post-modernism; and bores his friends on Space-X and technology news.

Jayathira RAO, Steve Hickman, FCA: “A Different Dance”

Rediscovered in 1905, a 2350 year old book, the Arthshastra, describes the guidelines used by ancient Indian kings and emperors to administer and nurture a vast country. Using the example of Jay’s ancestors’ fief, a small area in South India covering about 5000 sq km and 350 villages, this workshop simulates the challenges of running a kingdom using these guidelines and explores the similarities between the administrative principles of the ancients and the principles and values of the agile manifesto.

Working in groups of 4-6, participants will explore their understanding of agile principles and values by playing roles (king, chief minister, finance, defence and agriculture) and working as a team to run a small fief.

The simulation takes place over several years and introduces scenarios such as peace, drought, floods and war. Faced with these scenarios, participants will decide how to balance short and long term needs by allocated fixed resources, managing time and effort, and forecasting output. They will consider how each of these contribute to the growth and sustainability of their kingdom, along with the well-being of their subjects.

After each scenario the results of the team’s actions and decisions will calculated and parallels with contemporary agile methods will be discussed.



Susie Maquire, The story of your life

What story are you telling about your life so far and what story do you want to be able to tell by the end? Life is full of ups and downs, but the life we live depends on the story we tell and what we hold in our hearts. In this session we'll look at how changing our story can change everything.


See above

“Future technologies in testing and assurance – a conversation between Anthony Edwards, CTO TestPlant and Paul Gerrard”

Testing and assurance seem to be at a tipping-point. The pressure to use technology to enable and automate better, faster testing is so high that for many organisations, the human-focused or ‘manual’ approaches of the mainstream are no longer a comfortable or viable alternative.

There is much talk of pervasive automation in the increasingly popular continuous delivery and DevOps approaches. Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence are also set to transform the way we build, test, deploy and measure our systems in ever shorter iterations.

Anthony and Paul will each present their visions for the future, discuss some of the emerging opportunities and risks and open the debate to the floor to explore the future.


Antony is a proven product and technology leader with extensive experience in enterprise software and mobile computing. Prior to Testplant, Antony served as CTO of The Global Draw Group—a leading supplier of networked gaming products, which includes subsidiaries Barcrest and Games Media. Antony also served as a member of the Executive Team and EVP of Ecosystem and Technical Services at mobile operating system specialist Symbian. While at Symbian, Antony was a founder of the Symbian open-source foundation. Prior to this, Antony held a position with IBM Research in New York, where he made several contributions to the development of the Linux kernel, with a particular focus on security.

Paul's bio below.

Paul Gerrard, Gerrard Consulting, “Secrets of Presenting: Getting your message across”

If you’re a keynote speaker at an international conference or giving an update on progress to your team in a stand-up, you need to get on your hind legs and spout forth the words of wisdom you want to be heard and acted upon.

For years, I’ve been thinking my approach to speaking and teaching at conferences was unique to me. No rehearsal, too much PowerPoint, and a scary amount of improvisation. Is that a stressful method that only I could use?

But there are patterns in the way I present that seem to work reliably. Much of the ‘improvised’ content has been used many times. Rehearsal isn’t necessary because my talks are semi-scripted to some degree. As for PowerPoint – it’s for my benefit, not the audience. In fact, I’ll bet my method is faster and less stressful than yours.

In this session I’ll present a framework for constructing public talks and we’ll discuss reusable patterns for getting messages through to others. Many of these patterns transfer from keynotes to stand-ups. You have your own patterns of communication (didn’t you know?) Let’s compare notes and build up your speaker’s toolkit.

It should help your stand-ups too.


Paul Gerrard is a consultant, teacher, author, webmaster, developer, tester, conference speaker, rowing coach and a publisher. He has conducted consulting assignments in all aspects of software testing and quality assurance, specialising in test assurance. He has presented keynote talks and tutorials at many testing conferences around the world and won several best presentation awards. In 2010, Paul won the Eurostar European Testing Excellence Award and in 2013, won The European Software Testing Awards (TESTA) Lifetime Achievement Award. He is Principal of Gerrard Consulting Limited and is the host of the Assurance Leadership Forum in the UK.

Simon Prior, McAfee, “If Universities won’t help us, how do we #MakeATester?”

In 2016, I did some research into how many universities cover software testing as a topic in their core Computer Science syllabus and the results were shocking. I then started a social media poll for the skills required to be a tester. This presentation will go through those results and discuss the differences between what the Universities would be able to teach and also look into the soft skills which can’t necessarily be taught in a technical degree course. I will then discuss ways in which we could raise awareness of Testing and identify ways to attract the right people for roles.


Simon is a QA Manager at McAfee, leading the Production Operations QA team in Aylesbury responsible for the delivery pipeline which delivers the daily anti-malware updates to customers.

He has worked in various Software Engineering roles since joining as a graduate 11 years ago. He loves helping people make strides into their careers in QA and of course, love networking regularly at testing events. He's a Dad, Husband and Wannabe Runner.

Scott Summers, nFocus: “Would FAT be better if we weren’t so fat?”

In Assurance we often tell others what they need to do in order to improve. Sure, giving advice is always easier than taking it but why is it that when there is so much information proposing the benefits of exercise and a healthy lifestyle, many of us simply ignore it.

When you are told you can be happier, more productive, a better leader, a better manager, improve team dynamics and collaboration, and live longer, why not follow the advice? Is the obstacle physical, psychological, social or all three? This session explores the evidence, asks you take a look at yourself and aims to encourage you to change your behaviour.

I will share with you my 40 years of, at time obsessive, self-experimentation in the realm of health and fitness while also running the rat race and climbing the corporate ladder. I want to cut through the overload of information that is out there and tell you what has worked for me and what I believe can be applied to you and your team.

I will give you an easy to implement, comprehensive and applicable approach to integrating a healthy lifestyle into a stupidly busy work schedule so that you can be a better leader.


Scott has over 20 years of experience as an IT professional, starting his career as a consultant for PriceWaterhouse, then moving into investment banking where he was Head of Test at ABN and Global Head of QA at RBS. He is now a Director of nFocus.

He can do 100 burpees (with a press up and a jump) in 8 minutes and has come second in the Sports Day Dad’s race three years in a row .

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