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Meet Namely: Mavreen Smiel

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Mavreen studied religion, classical Greek, and Islamic studies before serving in the Navy. When a back injury ended her Navy career prematurely, she stumbled into video game testing and realized her love of breaking things. In April, Mavreen joined Namely as a Software Testing Engineer and has since taken over testing for Namely’s mobile app—with military precision, we might add.


We chatted with Mavreen about her role and what it’s like to have a career in software testing.


How did you end up in your role at Namely?
 

I fell into testing. My background is actually in religious studies and classical Greek. I got my master’s in Islamic studies from the University of London and I was trained to be either an academic or intelligence officer. I briefly served in the Navy until I injured my back. While I was recuperating, a friend reached out about a job opportunity at Blizzard Entertainment, a video game company. I took the job and tested Diablo III. I ended up loving testing and that’s how I slowly moved into tech.


Namely was on my radar last year when I was hunting around for new jobs, but the timing wasn’t quite right and I accepted an opportunity at Snapchat. Unfortunately, Snapchat had significant layoffs and I was forced to job hunt again. I called up my friend who worked at Namely and the timing was right. I was technically unemployed for less than six hours and I started at Namely two weeks later.


What’s your favorite thing about your role?
 

I get to break things. My mom said I’d never make a career out of breaking things but look at me now! My company likes it when I break things!


What does your average work week look like?
 

We work in two-week sprints. So in the beginning of our sprint, I’ll have more meetings and later in the sprint I’ll work on writing automated testing for new features that are coming out or I’ll try to learn something quickly to help out another team. Right now we’re building a large framework, so I’m doing a lot of reading and evaluating to figure out what would be the right tool for us.


Is there something that would surprise people about your job?


It isn’t just about breaking things. You have to be able to put things back together in a better way. It requires a lot of imagination to think about what could potentially go wrong. When people think of engineering, they assume it’s all black and white ones and zeros, but you need to have a great imagination to be a test engineer.


If you weren’t in this role, what would you be doing?


I do a lot of screenwriting in my spare time, so I probably would have sold my soul to Netflix to get one of my series published. I’m actually writing and producing my own web series right now that will be filmed this fall. The main character makes cars and costumes for supervillains.


What’s your favorite thing about working at Namely?


I like how collaborative it is. I can walk up to anybody and say, “Hey, I have this problem and I’ve heard that you are the person who might be able to help me.” People here are always enthusiastic about answering my questions. I never found that attitude at the other companies I’ve worked for. It’s great to be able to collaborate like that.


What’s your favorite thing about working in the Engineering Department?


I don’t have a technical background and I can ask all these insanely brilliant people how things work and they are always more than happy to help.


What’s your favorite office snack?


The huge vat of M&Ms.


Do you have any advice for someone who wants to do your job?


You need to be able to learn quickly, imagine all the potential outcomes, and think about the big picture. It’s easy to get down in the weeds and fixate on an individual test, but you need to understand how everything is related at a macro level. We will never achieve zero-defect software, but we need to mitigate the risk so we can roll out new features faster and be certain that one change won’t bring all of Namely crashing down.


What do you like to do outside of work?


I love ice hockey. I’m a huge New York Rangers fan. I’ve spent way too much money on tickets, but it’s worth it. I also volunteer with different theater groups and acting guilds. I’ll write sample scripts and sample dialogue for the actors to practice.


What was your best day at work?


I just had it! I’ve been working on code coverage for the last three weeks. It measures how many lines of code execute while you’re running automated tests. Now that it works, this functionality can help with the test framework we’re building for the front end and manual testing teams. When we’re trying to make decisions and move faster, everyone will be able to know what’s going on with a higher degree of certainty.


Who has inspired you to get to this point in your career?


I had a family friend, Pam, who passed away when I was 18. She always encouraged me to be curious, creative, and persistent and to always make the bold, scary choice. I’ve had some pretty varied experiences, but that advice is what glues them all together.

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At Namely, our coworkers are one of the top reasons we love what we do. The Meet Namely series spotlights real Namely employees across the company. Stay tuned for more from the series to learn how we put HR for humans into practice.

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