The Nexonia Development team in Montreal is high performing engine of individuals who are responsible for designing, building and bringing to life Nexonia’s innovative products and solutions. Day in and day out, these teams strive to ensure that we are constantly improving our products and integrations to not only meet but to exceed all of our customers’ expectations. This requires a huge commitment from every department, however it is the responsibility of our strategic Quality Assurance (QA) team to oversee and make certain all releases – including new integrations, product lines or product features – are flawless before they reach our customers’ hands. There are many QA divisions, however it is the responsibility of the Mobile QA team to test the Nexonia mobile apps thoroughly, ensuring that all of our new feature releases are highly functional and can be rolled out seamlessly.
So what does a day in life of a Mobile QA Analyst look like? I got a chance to sit down with Sonia Howa, our accomplished Mobile QA Manager, and learned about her career path, hobbies and life in and out of the office.
MADDY: First off, tell me a little bit about yourself!
SONIA: I was born in Paris, France, and spent my entire life there until I moved to Canada 4 years ago. Back home I have a pretty big family with 6 siblings – three brothers and three sisters, who are all still living there. I went to school in Paris and after completing my degrees I worked for a while until I turned 27 and decided that I really wanted to discover the world. There were lots of places I could have gone, although I was offered a career opportunity by a consulting agency in France that would allow me to move to Canada, so this is what brought me here!
MADDY: Where did you attend school, and what did you study while you were there?
SONIA: In high school I was very interested in literature, though when I started university at the world-renowned university La Sorbonne, in Paris, France, I decided to study Internet Technology (IT) and languages because I love to speak. I speak English, Italian, Spanish, French – which is my mother language – and a bit of Japanese. My second professional degree was a Masters in Computer Science from Paris-Est Marne la Vallée, and a fun fact about this university is that it’s very close to DisneyLand Resort.
MADDY: What were the subjects that really stood out and defined what you wanted to do with your career?
SONIA: I was really interested in studying how people speak their native languages; learning the origins of how words were formed and first created, why we say one word in a certain way and not in another, and the formation of sounds. I was studying Linguistics and IT while also taking some courses in English, Spanish, Italian and Japanese. This was a big challenge for me because it was mixing such different subjects – literature, linguistics and IT – and using different parts of the brain.
MADDY: Tell us a little more about your first job that brought you here to Canada.
SONIA: In September 2012 a consulting firm contacted me while I was living in France and explained that they had a lot of clients in North America, more specifically in Montreal, and that they were looking for a QA Analyst to relocate there. I came here to visit a few times before making my decision because I wanted to see what Canada was like and if Montreal would be a good fit for me or not. And from the second I arrived I was very surprised because the way of life here is so different from Paris; less stress and the people are so much happier. It’s really quite different!
The mix of nature and city was perfect for me, so I thought, “Okay. Let’s make the move and we’ll see how this turns out.” With that, I sold most of my belongings in France, packed up what I had and came to Canada with a great job offer. I started working as a QA Analyst for a company called LVL Studio that specializes in entertainment and second screen applications and I was in this role for a few years.
MADDY: Sounds like that was quite an adventure in itself! How has your career path led you to work at Nexonia?
SONIA: It’s a funny story actually because the person who got me my job at Nexonia in Montreal was Julia [Gerdil]. We had worked together previously (with Quentin [Bricard] as well), and then our paths crossed again after we had both left that company. That’s when she contacted me about working at Nexonia.
I had been working at another QA consulting job for about a year and a half until Julia called me out of the blue one day and said, “I’m working for a company that is trying to build a strong QA team. Currently there are 3 people on the team who focus on QA and product development, but I know that you’re a QA Analyst so this could be a great opportunity for you to join our growing QA team!” I came with no real expectation of what this new role and department in the company would look like, but it was a very exciting opportunity! When I first met the Montreal development team, I could see that everyone was really passionate about the company and product. Nexonia was in a huge period of growth and there had not been an official QA “team” until I joined the other QA Analysts there.
Nexonia’s solutions were attractive to me even back then and I could see its potential. Even though it was a big change from the entertainment and gaming industry that I had been working in previously, I knew it would be a great challenge. I’ve been working for Nexonia for over a year and a half now…time flies!
MADDY: How would you describe Nexonia’s culture? How do you think it influences the company’s success?
SONIA: The culture here at Nexonia is very different from other companies I’ve worked for, in the best way possible. When I first started, there were approximately 25 people working out of the Montreal office so it felt like a big family – and it still does! The culture at Nexonia is very friendly, collaborative, and supportive. When any of us see something that we could do or an area that we could change, the team supports one another and says, “You have an idea? Push it and let’s make it happen.” It has allowed us all to feel like our ideas are very valued and respected.
MADDY: What’s your favorite part about working in the Montreal office?
SONIA: One of the main reasons I enjoy working here so much (and of course it’s not a surprise) is my colleagues, they’re awesome! I really love them, seriously. I’m very engaged in the social committee because it’s a great way to strengthen my relationships with my coworkers. That’s the part that I love the most about working at Nexonia – everyone feels like a big family, and it’s a great place to spend your working life. I can see that people are very happy here because we’re doing so much great development, both in our products and in our company. It’s not just about the work we do here at Nexonia, everyone really appreciates the whole experience. A company can be successful and have a great product, but if the atmosphere isn’t welcoming then people are like zombies coming to work every day – which isn’t enjoyable for anyone.
MADDY: I’m sure your day changes all the time, but what does a typical day look like for a QA Manager at Nexonia?
SONIA: A typical day could start with a few meetings, the first being with my Mobile QA team to hear all of our updates, clarify problems that anyone may have and to discuss upcoming development and planning requirements from us. This is when we usually address all the projects that need to be tackled that day or week and make sure that everyone has everything they need to get the job done.
My day also usually involves analyzing QA requests, investigating various issues and reviewing my team’s priorities for our overall QA strategy. I also spend some time creating test plans and test cases, as well as executing these tests and coaching my team. At some point in my week I like to spend some time investigating and researching new improvements for our QA processes, which will help the efficiency of my team.
MADDY: What’s your favorite part about your job as a Mobile QA Manager at Nexonia?
SONIA: My favourite part about being a Mobile QA Manager is being able to see the end of a sprint when we’re about to release it. There’s a positive vibe coming because we know that we’re achieving something great, and that all of our customers will appreciate the updates and features once they’re released.
MADDY: When you’re not at work, what could you be found doing in your spare time?
SONIA: I like to work out at the gym so I work out a lot! I also love going to movie theaters and I can be found there very often watching the newest releases – I’m a movie addict! I enjoy all genres and usually make my selections based on what’s new in theaters that week. Also, if anyone wants to challenge or quiz me on any movie or TV show, you know where to find me!