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She is developing her career and passions at Sii – meet Emilia, a tester, trainer and Enduro rider

Emilia, Test Development Engineer at Sii Poland, knew two things since childhood – that she would ride a motorcycle and work in the IT industry. At Sii, she feels fulfilled in both these areas. She stands out with her passion, ambition, stubbornness and absolute consistency. Since 2019, Emilia has been working in the Testing Competency Center, where she is responsible for passing on her testing experience to development teams. This year she also received a grant for the development of her motorcycle passion as part of the Passion Sponsorship Program, in which the company annually allocates PLN 500 000 to support its employees.

Many people at Sii value your testing knowledge and what you are doing in the Testing Competency Center. However, on a daily basis, you aren’t testing but teaching others. Tell us more about it.

Emilia Lendzion-Barszcz, Test Development Engineer: My scope of duties may surprise an outsider, but there is nothing strange about it, only pragmatics. Developers – as you know – are responsible for building applications for business. They treat the code like their dearest child who you rarely criticize and love very much, being very gentle with it. And then a tester who wants to verify that the business requirements were properly implemented and that the code quality is high appears. And this tester is no longer gentle – being critical is their key role! They look at the code from every angle and search for errors and shortcomings, seeing it from a completely different perspective. Therefore, such a strict testing approach is passed on to developers so that they can independently detect the error faster during the creation of the application or before passing it on. Thanks to this, we optimize work costs and maintain a high level of quality. The sooner the error is detected, the less we will pay for its correction. 

How did your testing adventure begin? What path did you have to walk to be where you are now?

E.L.-B.: Since childhood, I knew that I would choose one of two paths: either being on a construction site or doing something related to computers. In middle school and high school, I created my first websites and fixed my neighbors’ computers. But then I got my first job as a civil engineer. During the construction of blocks of flats in Warsaw, I quickly got rid of the fear of heights, climbing scaffolding on the 11th floor. In general, I learned a lot during the construction and assembly of flour mills! Nothing teaches life skills and character like working with experienced builders – you need to earn their respect, and not look at them as their manager. Being a woman was a bit of a difficulty.

After a few years, however, I decided to return to IT. On the one hand, I loved (and still love) programming. On the other hand, I didn’t want to be a programmer. I like details and to think very unconventionally, so the profession of a tester suits me perfectly.

Before I started working in this profession, I had been a part-time IT student for a year. But I found out that with my approach, I couldn’t learn more there than I could by practicing. So I started working – first with very little commercial experience in a small company. And soon I’ll celebrate 2 years at Sii! My approach and faith in myself have produced great results – I already share knowledge with others, even during guest lectures at the Warsaw University of Technology. 

What are your career plans, in what direction are you going?

E.L.-B.: I aim at the position of Architect. Although I really like my current job – it gives me great satisfaction! But you have to move forward, develop and broaden horizons – Architect seems like a natural choice.

After work, you are also very active both professionally and privately. Tell us more about what you do in your so-called free time.

E.L.-B: Yes, I am very active. First of all, I share my knowledge – I have always loved this! I remember explaining math to the kids in my class using cookies, specifically chocolate and peanut butter cookies. I have been on the IT scene for over 6 years. My first speech was a presentation on API in Białystok during a meeting of the BiałQA group. Later I was very active as the organizer of the hackathon (I created an application for the competition, among others), co-organizer and volunteer at testing conferences and speaker at such conferences as EuroStar, TestWarez, Test:Fest and many more. In 2019, I chaired the Program Committee of ConSelenium – a conference on automation. Every now and then I run a charity workshop. During the last one, we supported the building of a home for homeless animals and a start-up helping gifted children who do not have the opportunity to develop their creativity on a daily basis. At Sii, I participated – as a tester – in a webinar about potential mistakes during technical interviews, both from the perspective of the recruiter and the candidate.

And what do you do after performing your professional duties?

E.LB.: Apart from work, motorcycles are my passion! I love adrenaline, and Enduro gives it to me – extreme motorcycle riding on gravel and asphalt roads, over long distances. Such training during the weekend allows me to stay focused on work during the week. Of course, sometimes deadlines are equally exciting, but it’s not the same.

I bought my first motorcycle without telling my parents and drove it home right after the purchase. That’s when I found out my mom was crazy about motorcycles when she was younger!

So it’s all in the genes. And how did your passion for two wheels begin?

E.L.-B.: From the age of 9 I knew that I would ride a motorcycle. When I saw my older brother riding my grandfather’s motorcycle, I wanted to ride too, but two wheels were a little too heavy for me. When I got my first scholarship, I hesitated over whether to buy my childhood dream car (blue Ford Escort) or a motorcycle. Pragmatism won and the car was bought first. But after 3 years I got my category A driving license and bought a motorcycle – Suzuki GS500F – the blue arrow. A beautiful motorcycle! Bought because of its resemblance to racers. A very nimble and pleasant-to-ride vehicle. Thanks to it, I learned humility and riding technique on the track. The next one was a sport motorcycle – CBR 600 F4i – the red arrow. Beautiful memories… when you ride on the track and feel this pleasant adrenaline … but with it, I also felt that I needed more: not speed, but excitement. Then I started thinking about Enduro and XT600.

I remember how at the very beginning I was riding back and forth on a 100-meter, straight, sand-surfaced, gravel road, not faster than 30 km/h. Those 15 minutes were enough to know this was it. The level of adrenaline – high, plus fear, joy, euphoria! So much emotion. At that time, I already knew that I wanted to develop further. Since then, I came to motorcycle rallies with the motorcycle on a trailer, because my tires were tubed (tires for off-road riding). When using such tires on asphalt you need to replace them more often, and they are not cheap.

Then the motorcycle got too heavy, so I changed it to a BMW F650GS. It turned out that this motorcycle was quite OK, the center of gravity was low, however … it was not what I was looking for. And this is how I replaced it with another vehicle: the DRZ400E. That was a really big change! With it, I bravely participated in rallies such as the Tukan and Pałuk. Did I win them? In my opinion, yes, because often taking part in these competitions is like fighting a battle against yourself. When you see a steep driveway and you wonder how it’s even possible for someone to drive up there, and then you’re the one that does it – that’s all you need. This is the best feeling when you know that you can do a lot and only you are limiting yourself! Nothing and no one else!

In the last edition of the Passion Sponsorship Program, you received a grant to develop your motorcycle passion. What are you using it for?

E.L.-B.: It is nice that Sii supports the development of its employees also in areas not directly related to work! My grant will greatly support me in learning and gaining experience – both participation in international competitions and training in Poland are not the cheapest. Not to mention the logistics.

I’m still learning. During paid training, where companies have special tracks for Hard Enduro, I overcome my fears, learn humility and do not believe that I am able to jump, even though 2 years ago it seemed impossible. But you can also develop by drawing knowledge from free materials, for example, YouTube videos where Graham Jarvis or Tadeusz Taddy Błażusiak perform their tricks. I watch such videos and then I try to repeat them once a week on the track.

My initial plans concern training in Enduro Kosiance Boruty in Podlasie, with the one and only Zenon Boguszewski. He is a man in his 60s, who actively rides a motorcycle, records videos about the Polish People’s Republic (PRL) and posts them on YouTube and still trains young Enduro adepts. Another place is Marcin Spirowski’s Enduro Expert School. As for the competitions, my plan is as follows: Tukan Rally, Bosnia Rally and EnduroRally24. All these rallies are endurance rallies. In addition, I took part in Cross-Country twice. It is a cross-country race on varied terrain, where you’re riding for example 1 hour. Cross Country is more focused on endurance than sprint. Over the same time span, some will do 8 laps on the track, others 3.

I will also use up my holiday entitlement to gain experience as my husband and I are planning to go to Albania for the 4th time, sleeping in the wild with a view of a beautiful river or valley, traveling 500 m in 3 hours… Albania is not easy, but it is beautiful and everyone will find something for themselves! I was even thinking about quitting everything and becoming an offroad guide through Albania! 🙂

What are you most proud of as an Enduro enthusiast?

E.L.-B.: I am proud of every kilometer covered across difficult terrain. Riding on the Hard Enduro Track is extremely interesting – in addition to technique, concentration and speed also matter. A split second, and you can lose control and soar through the air. It is an extreme sport, but thanks to proper protection, technique and training, I derive pure pleasure from it – also from the enormous fatigue that Enduro gives me. I also get savage satisfaction from riding different routes: I am an amateur, I participate in the same competitions as professionals, I take the same, difficult routes and I am successful! Besides, with this sport, you experience a whole range of emotions: from fear to excitement. From feeling invincible to collapsing from exhaustion. It is also this sport that makes me enjoy the little things and appreciate the time here and now. After an intense day of work, going to training is for me an extreme form of resting, where I cut myself off from everything and focus completely on the technique and the track.

Where can we see you training?

E.L.-B.: Most often in Kosianka Boruty, Przywidz or Grodzisk Mazowiecki. If you would like to contact me, talk about Enduro or IT testing, go to my LinkedIn or Facebook page. I also run the “Baby na motóry” Facebook group, which is aimed at women passionate about off-road riding. More about the fanpage here.

Emilia Lendzion-Barsz is one of several beneficiaries of grants awarded as part of the last edition of Sii Poland’s Passion Sponsorship Program, in which the company supports the development of workers’ passions and projects related to them. If you want to become one of them, join us – check our job offers.

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