Smashing Idea's quality assurance manager find bugs, glitches and problems in products. "If I can manipulate or disrupt something, I will," he says.

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HEATH LOMBARD
Quality assurance manager

What do you do? I am the quality assurance [QA] manager at Smashing Ideas by day, maker of fine pastries and collector of random hobbies by night. Professionally speaking, I get paid to break things. I find bugs, glitches and problems in products to make sure they are rock solid for our customers. If I can manipulate or disrupt something, I will. I try to be the gatekeeper for high quality.

How did you get started in that field? As a young boy in New York on a goat farm, I always had a passion for two things: baking and technology. Throughout the course of my professional career, I have found myself working in both professions: a baker in New York and a QA guy in the tech world. The tech portion took over when I moved to Texas to work for Dell for 13 years, and then continued when I moved to Seattle to join Smashing Ideas as the QA manager.

What’s a typical day like? To get the day off to the right start coffee and breakfast are a must, immediately followed by new development builds of the current applications that need testing. I derive a test plan based on functionality and the number of platforms the product will be used on. Take an app, for example. It has to be built in near perfection for the iPad, iPhone, iPod, mobile, web and tablet platforms, Android devices, etc., and all their various models and corresponding operating systems dating back four years. The quality across all devices needs to be seamless with a uniform user experience, so testing across all avenues is critical.

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What’s the best part of the job? Best part of my job is working with amazing people and clients to make a new quality product the world will use. We create tangible products and enhancing user experience is at the core of QA. Also, it is great to get to use so many new technologies and applications before most people … and intentionally push them past their limits and break them in every possible way. Some people have their desk covered in paperwork. Mine is covered in tablets and smartphones.

What surprises people about the job? How much fun we have and how much goes into a product before it hits the market! QA is a vital part of a product that works great, doesn’t crash and is free from errors in the user experience. It doesn’t get any better than spending your day purposely breaking things, isolating weaknesses and then consequently using the technology we have to rebuild it and make it stronger. From apps and websites to product developed on entirely new hardware, consistently going to market with next-to-no-bugs is a personal point of pride. And hey, it beats getting up at 4 a.m. to knead bread!

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