When she was just 16 years old, Sui Lai knew she wanted to pursue a career in technology. In high school, Lai enjoyed math but couldn’t easily find a career path in the mathematics field that she felt drawn to. Then someone suggested Lai pursue a computer science degree. After completing her degree, Lai broke into the software field and has continued to overcome obstacles in her rise to leadership positions. Currently a Global Project Manager for LogiGear, Lai specializes in continuous integration and continuous delivery and is responsible for many of LogiGear’s high profile client development projects.
Did you face any obstacles in becoming a software developer?
Work life balance and time management are always obstacles. I treat this like running a project: regardless of work or life, I identify what I need to do (tasks) and prioritize. I learn from past mistakes and reduce risks.
What are some ways you promote diversity and give equal opportunity to women?
I’m a big fan of the teachable moment. When diversity issues come up with my offshore counterparts, I share what I’ve learned about the many benefits of diversity with them.
How do you measure project success?
Success to me, means making sure that we hit our clients’ goals and deliver not only on time but with a high level of quality. Part of our corporate culture is to own quality and to treat each engagement as a strategic partnership, where our team is proactive, makes suggestions, and is transparent with feedback. When our clients see our offshore teams as part of “their” team, we know we’ve won—and this is the biggest measure of success for us.
Do you have any specific project successes you’d like to share?
There are so many projects that I am proud of, but here are a few that stand out:
Recently, a client requested a dashboard that allowed them to view and filter test results (e.g. time duration, builds, etc.). This required heavy development work (which is not typically expected of testers), and we were given high-level requirements. Recently, we presented the dashboard to the client via a demo, and they were extremely pleased with the result. We also have plans in the future to kick off pipelines for test execution.
Another client wanted to build an enterprise test automation program for end-to-end testing with complex systems/configurations and selected LogiGear because of our technical expertise. This was due in large part to our successful track record with other Fortune 100 companies (other client projects I have managed). Within nine months of meeting, we were able to fully set them up with a test automation program that could work within a CI/CD process. This cut their release time from six weeks to 24 hours (that’s huge!). It’s been so successful, that we’re now working with them on implementing this at a second office location for them, with plans for more after that.
What is your proudest accomplishment?
I would have to say my communication skills. It’s commonly acknowledged that most engineering jobs don’t require great communication skills. Over time, I’ve really honed this skill and find it hugely beneficial when it comes to dealing with clients, as well as communicating daily with the team.
What advice would you give to a woman just starting out in CI/CD or test automation?
It’s important that you try to focus on delivering tests that have a high stability rate. Years before DevOps was popular, we were asking the clients for an environment that was similar to their target QA environment (our sense of production environment). We wanted to continuously run newly implemented test cases on this target environment to meet two goals:
First, the goal was to detect flaky tests early—which can haunt automation and be able to resolve them sooner (AKA: shift-left before it was shift-left).
Second, this was because we wanted the ability to detect and resolve the issues on the target environment that were relevant to the client, thereby avoiding potential issues with our own local environments.
Women just starting out should look beyond CI/CD. This is just the latest trend in software development, and eventually, it’ll be improved upon by something else. Commit to being a continuous learner. Also, don’t be afraid of making mistakes and asking questions for help when you need it—otherwise you’ll waste a lot of time.