Anna Chmurska
Senior QA Lead

In this interview, we sit down with one of X-Team's Senior QA Leads, Anna Chmurska.

Anna is an inspiration and someone who is naturally motivated and always pushing herself forward to keep learning and growing.

What motivated you to first get into programming?

Everything started when I was a child. I have always been a person that asks tons of questions regarding how things work and why they don’t work differently.

When I was 12 years old, I got my first computer with internet access and I created my first public blog. It was full of photography / post-processing tutorials, as since I can remember, I have been a huge fan of taking photos. I also won a couple of prizes.

After that, I decided to take a step forward and started creating new types of tutorials - not only about photography, but also on blogging and IT topics. In my tutorials, I would describe things like step by step instructions on how to show animation on a page or how to create a custom layout.

A year later, my work was noticed by a blog administrator and I was promoted on the landing page of Onet.pl, which is Poland's biggest information web portal and 6th most visited website.

By the time I reached junior high-school, I was the lead administrator of my school’s website.

At the time, I also discovered my life motto, which is still valid for me - Keep pushing yourself to master new skills, even if no one is expecting you to.

I wholeheartedly believe in that, and it’s what drives me to constantly push myself.

When Maciej, who is now my husband, appeared in my life, he encouraged me to start coding. He introduced me to that addictive feeling you get when your code finally works.

I really like thinking about these moments because they continue to motivate me today and, after all, that's what strongly impacted my career.

What other passions do you enjoy exploring?

The word boredom doesn't exist in my vocabulary — my head is always full of ideas and I love keeping my mind busy.

Because of that I spend a significant amount of time solving puzzles and playing strategy games. I fiddle around with security and cryptocurrency topics as well — this year I built two mining rigs and I just finished a couple of security trainings to get my first pentester certification; it feels so rewarding to gain that kind of knowledge!

On the flip side, when I need a mental break, I jump on my bike and take long rides through the forest. I also sometimes find a quiet place to meditate so I can clear my head and relax.

Other times I will be drawing and tattooing on artificial skin. I'm also a huge fan of professional photography and design, any type of design, from brilliant architecture to splendid fender flares on a modded Nissan S13. And when it comes to cars, I'm modding mine as well; I just installed lower, harder suspension springs, and finally found the perfect rims for my car. I really like to spend hours in the garage focused on detailing my car. I love wax application and waiting an hour for hardening. The best part is polishing off the excess coating.

All of these things really keep me inspired.

Every remote developer has their favorite spot to work from. What's yours?

Usually I work from home, but it really depends on what I’m working on, as well as my current mood. I feel the most productive at my desk because everything is configured and adjusted properly, and there's nothing there to disturb or distract me.

From time to time, I need to gather my thoughts and sometimes my creativity or inspiration runs a little dry, and I need a place to re-charge my batteries. For me, the best way to do that is moving to a completely new spot. It could be a really busy and loud coffeehouse or small cabin in the middle of nowhere with a breathtaking view. Sometimes a change of scenery is all you need to become re-inspired.

I think this is the advantage of working remotely - everyday I can work from a different place.

Let's talk war stories: what's your favorite memory in the trenches of being a QA Lead?

The ultimate goal is to avoid ending up in tough situations in our projects. Although sometimes it’s inevitable, we at least aim to manage them properly. Many years ago, my desire to gain more and more experience put me in truly deep waters, which was nothing anyone anticipated.

The project was supposed to be quick and easy, but as it so happened, the requirements got more bloated and complex as we deviated from the original plan. A lack of resources became an issue and the imminent deadline bothered everyone. Even worse, our client's way of sharing information left a lot to be desired. The next days became overwhelming and the scope of my duties exceeded my skills at the time – I had been assigned to a team leader role. At that time, I began to understand how much I didn’t know yet and this knowledge opened my eyes.

I started reading a lot of books and articles, asking many questions and managed to find better solutions to our problems. It would be much harder or even impossible without all the support that I got from other team leaders and teammates in the company. They made me feel like I could also become great and I'm grateful that they gave me the room to grow.

In the end, the project was delivered on time with such great feedback, and a couple months later, the client came back for another project.

Definitely a consistent theme here that you love to grow. Has working remotely helped you grow as well?

Definitely. Because my work requires a significant amount of creativity, being able to have flexible hours and not being tethered to one place makes a big impact on my performance and growth.

Nowadays, whenever I tackle some hard tasks that really use a lot of my mental energy or take a lot longer than expected, then I can take a break and finish my work a little bit later when my batteries are re-charged again. Thanks to that flexibility, I know that I'm maximizing my potential and not forcing myself to work when I am burned out and waiting for the next charge of inspiration.

But to successfully work remotely, self-discipline and good time management skills are essential because it’s important to fully focus on work responsibilities and efficiently separating your private life from your professional one.

And last but not least...what dent do you want to leave in the world?

I would like to be living proof for why you should follow your dreams. Patience, persistence and a strong belief in success can do wonders. Everything is possible, you just have to be brave enough to make the first step and reach for it.

We'll help you unleash.

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