Adam Satterfield: New to KMS & New to Vietnam
I recently joined KMS Technology as VP of Testing Services in early July, and KMS wasted no time in sending me to meet our team in Vietnam and to see firsthand why our people are some of the best in the business. This is my first time working at a company with offices in Asia, so I really had no idea what to expect. I jumped at the opportunity, though. I didn’t really know much about Vietnam going into this; I figured adjusting to the culture and the language might be a hurdle for me, not to mention the 21-hour flight, but I chose to approach the whole trip with an open mind, confident that everything would be great.
The KMS Side of Vietnam
I landed around midnight so I didn’t get to see much more than the HCMC airport for my first look at Vietnam, but I received a wonderful KMS welcome from the team. They had an awesome welcome package for me when I arrived at the hotel, with everything I needed like a company badge, a local cell phone, and they even wrote me a nice note welcoming me to their country. In the morning, I finally got to meet the team I had heard so much about. Everyone in the office was so friendly and I could tell they were genuinely happy to see me and truly wanted to get to know me. They took me out to eat that night, which was my first real insight into Vietnamese culture – and even ordered for me because I was the guest and they wanted to make sure I got a good first taste of the culture. My first meal was AMAZING! We dined on delicious squid and some of the freshest seafood I’ve ever had.
I lucked out that just as I was starting at KMS, the team in Vietnam was preparing to sponsor the HCMC Software Testing Club Conference where James Bach was the keynote speaker. Excitement is an understatement. His book Lessons Learned in Software Testing taught me the foundation of being a successful tester and I’ve looked up to him since I read the book back in 2002. I mean, how often do you get to break bread with the person you look up to in your career? James definitely challenged my knowledge and passion for testing, debating things like behavior driven development and really diving into how to best define automation testing. He’s such a knowledgeable person, and though I’ve been in testing almost 17 years now, I still learned so much more from him in these sessions.
I also got to see first-hand how involved KMS is with the HCMC Software Testing Club. Some of our team members gave spectacular presentations and it was great getting to talk test strategy with some of our client teams. It was clear to me that they are very passionate about quality assurance and are eager to learn as much as they can – something I really appreciate seeing in testers. It was definitely a treat for me to get to experience the testing culture in Vietnam, especially alongside James since we were both experiencing Vietnam for the first time.
It Wasn’t All Business in Vietnam
Every night during the conference I went out for dinner and drinks with the team. Dining in Vietnam was a bit of culture shock for me – all the food was served family style and there was tons of conversation and laughter and everyone really wanted to get to know each other. It was quite different from dining in the US where you’re often rushed and don’t connect with people. These gatherings were a great way to end the work day, KMS is a family and the team there truly loves working together and getting to know each other outside of the workplace.
After the work week was done, I got a chance to visit Ho Tram, abough 2.5 hours outside of Ho Chi Minh City. I always thought of Vietnam as agricultural with big cities but I now know there is so much more to see and experience. It was mind blowing how traffic worked – there didn’t seem to be many rules yet it seemed to flow seamlessly. James Bach even commented on how it looked like schools of fish swimming around each other, a very accurate depiction. When we arrived, the beach was so peaceful and we just relaxed and watched the local fisherman, bought their fresh catch and some shrimp and grilled out on the beach.
Cà phê đen không đá
I can now say that Vietnam has the absolute best coffee in the world, and that says a lot coming from me – I’m a bit of a coffee snob. I drank so much of it that I learned my coffee order in Vietnamese – cà phê đen không đá, which means black coffee no rocks (without ice). It was smooth, rich and delicious and my teammates were kind enough to bring me some every morning. The people in Vietnam are so pleasant and courteous that even random people at local restaurants bought me drinks just so they could sit and talk with me about what America is like. They were intrigued by me and wanted to learn of a culture different to theirs, which I enjoyed. It was fun being able to share a little bit about my background, exchange stories, and compare traditions, learning what things are similar and where there are stark differences.
I left Vietnam with a great sense of appreciation for the culture, economy, and the ceaseless growth I saw in the technical sector. I will be returning to Ho Chi Minh City in early September and cannot wait to experience more of the culture…and bring more coffee back home!