Hey, I’m Lauren, Quality Assurance Analyst at Leaf. I’m 24 years old and I was born and bred in Newcastle, UK; unfortunately, nowhere exotic!
One of my main hobbies is travelling. I just love exploring new places and I always find myself gravitating back to Los Angeles, California. Being unable to travel during the pandemic, especially during my prime years was just devastating and I truly hope that never happens again in our lifetime. 2022 is a year of making up for lost time and lost travels by hitting the skies and delving into making more memories and enjoying what life has to offer, aside from the stressful travel chaos.
I also enjoy fashion, clothes, and makeup. I guess you may say I’m a stereotypical girly girl with a passion for fashion. Creating outfit combinations just excites me; picking out colours from my outfits and finding accessories to match, then wearing them once and never again…meh…there’s always room for improvement, right?
As for makeup, maybe I need to start experimenting again because I’m finding that I haven’t really changed my “look” in a couple of years. I feel like I need a bit of a change-up. Any suggestions are welcome! And don’t even get me started on having to take a full face of makeup off on an evening…let’s save that for another day.
For those of you who don’t know, I also own a large Justin Bieber fan page called Justin Bieber Crew / JBCrewdotcom, and before suspension (don’t even get me started on Copyright restrictions) it racked up over 600,000 followers on Instagram (including JB himself who would often contact us, give us shoutouts on IG Live and even partner with us for projects — at the time we were the only fan account he followed), 500,000+ on Twitter, 28,000+ on Facebook, with even some of our backup Instagram and Twitter accounts reaching 300,000+ / 70,000+ followers. Our social stats (impressions, reach, retweets, likes, etc…) used to be insane in our prime.
Although things have dwindled slightly since due to not being able to post a lot of material due to copyright restrictions, things are still on the rise and I have an amazing, dedicated team of women around the world helping to run the accounts still to this day. We currently have a team of 12 people from around the world making sure updates are posted 24/7. They currently run the Twitter, Instagram, and recently TikTok pages.
My team members from the U.S. have also received some perks such as being invited to iHeart Radio Awards (5 times) to represent and accept an award on behalf of all ‘Beliebers’, live on air (and in front of the man himself and many other stars), as well as an invite to the Billboard Music Awards (travel and accommodation paid also). One of my team members was also lucky enough to go on Instagram Live with JB through the JBC Instagram page, where he asked “how do you do it?!” and said he comes to our page to keep updated on himself, haha. What a joker. I have also participated in multiple interviews regarding JBCrew’s success, whether it be radio stations or magazines/websites.
Moral of the story; turn your hobbies into something valuable if possible. If I wasn’t to have created JBC back when I was 12, I wouldn’t have landed a social media job and everything that came after.
So, I guess you can say Justin Bieber played a huge part in my childhood [or teen-hood, should I say?] and also a big part in me landing this job back in 2017, which brings me onto the next topic…my Leaf story.
Lauren’s Leaf story
My journey with Leaf began in May 2017 after a turbulent first job that left me feeling deflated, drained, and not good enough.
I still remember the day I came into contact with Welsey Hartley (or Wes, as we call him). It was January 2017 and I had only just set up my LinkedIn profile as I was in a bad place mentally due to the work culture in my previous setting.
Wes and I connected on LinkedIn and on the 18th of January 2017. He reached out to me asking if I would like to meet up for an informal chat as they were hiring for a Social Media Manager. At that time I was in an apprenticeship so I couldn’t take the role as ‘manager’, but I stated that I would love to transfer my apprenticeship to Leaf if all went well.
A few weeks later we met up for a super informal “interview” if you’d even call it that. We were literally in a pub! Basically, a friendly, informal chat about the company’s culture, background and plans, while I communicated about my experience in the world of social media. He couldn’t have been more welcoming and I knew immediately that I would fight for a place here if I had to. I had never known of a music app/website to be based in Newcastle; it was just so surreal to think there was such an opportunity open here. It’s almost as if it was written in the stars…like it was meant to be!
The rest of the team was back in Costa Rica so I needed to wait a month or two before they were back in Newcastle and could all meet me to see if I’d be the right hire. I still remember the morning of meeting everybody so vividly; there had been some internet outage in the new office, so everyone came in to greet me having been working from home. The first thing I noticed was Gilbert Corrales (or Gil, as we call him) walking over with a basketball in his hands and it reaffirmed my belief that this was a cool office environment. I went up the stairs (and there are A LOT of them…phwoar!), sat down, and had a chat with all of the team members there; long story short, I was hired right there and then and I couldn’t have been happier. I was on cloud nine.
Before the company-wide pivot to Leaf, the marketing
agency tech company, it was originally a well-established music platform/app that went by the name of Leaf Music. As a big Justin Bieber fan with large communities across several social platforms, my dream job had always been around music and social media as I not only had a passion for this topic, but also experience that I wanted to put to good use.
Luckily, after months of being unhappy, I eventually landed myself a social media apprenticeship at Leaf and things suddenly started to become that much brighter.
Leaf welcomed me with open arms from day-dot, making me feel at home and at ease immediately. To instantly feel warmth and joy from every single team member is, I’m sure, very rare and hard to come by, but for Leaf, it was so effortless. It took me no time to settle in and become at home. Skip to two months later when the company flew me out to Costa Rica to meet the rest of the team over there. The trip was originally set for two weeks but was extended to one month. One whole month of living my best life, making incredible memories with incredible people, and working in dream-like surroundings. Paradise, if you will. To feel comfortable enough to travel across the world to be with a group of people I had only known for two months just shows how unbelievably amazing they are, especially for somebody who is shy and introverted around new people..
I started working for Leaf as a social media apprentice in May 2017 and little did I know that just over a year later I’d be stepping into the techie side. In the beginning, my main responsibility was Leaf’s social media channels; posting music updates across all platforms on a daily basis.
At the time Leaf Music was our sole focus, so while scouring the website for artist profiles and juiciness to post across social, I’d unintentionally notice some potential defects, whether that be in the user interface or functionality bugs. After finding some irregularities on the website that I considered to be “bugs”, I would pass my findings over to the bug master, JP (head of Quality Assurance at the time) so he could reproduce and investigate further.
As time went on, Leaf started to develop a fully-fledged marketing tech company, much more than just a FB/IG marketing automation tool we once set out to build. From that point, the whole company pivoted their efforts solely to Leaf Grow as it was unsustainable to be working on two projects alongside each other. With less than 20 employees, we all needed to come together to deliver the best version of the product possible.
In mid-2018, I was asked if I could step in to give a helping hand on QA, and of course, I said yes without hesitation! The idea of being able to enter into something new was exciting as well as incredibly nerve-wracking but Leaf helped me every step of the way with on-site training, led by JP. Near the end of 2018, I was asked if I wanted to commit to doing QA full-time and I was thrilled to say yes. Before working at Leaf, I had never been in a tech environment and never even knew what the term “QA / Quality Assurance” was — or that it even existed for that matter.
In April 2019 my manager left, leaving me as the only QA in the company. Although this took me out of my comfort zone, everybody was so supportive and patient with me for the next two years. Being the only QA was a terrifying prospect considering I had only been in the field for a few months, but it helped me to learn and adapt faster. I was given the opportunity and support to get my ISTQB Foundation level certification, which I couldn’t have achieved without the help and guidance I had from Leaf. The next goal that Leaf is helping me to achieve is my ISTQB Agile Tester certification and then an introduction to the wonderful world of automation.
As of today, I have been working in the manual testing field for around 4 years and work alongside a team of 2 amazing women who make squishing bugs even more fun and enjoyable. If it wasn’t for Leaf, I (most definitely) would never have discovered my passion for manual testing and feeling like a cyber detective. They saw potential in me and helped mould me into the person I am today which I am endlessly grateful. They helped me progress from a complete amateur who didn’t even know what QA was, to a tester who for once feels confident in her role and just wants to continue to excel and become a better version of herself.
There were many times I had been pushed out of my comfort zone, whether it was an external presentation regarding QA, interviewing candidates, or a product demo to clients. I would always doubt myself and my abilities but Leaf always believed in me more than I believed in myself.
I’ve said it a million times and I will say it again; I’ve never met such a lovely, wholesome group of individuals. It’s very difficult to work in a company where every single person is polite and easy to talk to, but somehow we manage it even in a rapidly growing team. It really does feel like a big family where nobody judges, just supports. Leaf is, has, and will always be people first. The diversity at Leaf is so refreshing, it’s lovely to learn more about different cultures and connect with people from around the world. Anybody is welcome here regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation. That’s how it should be. It’s 2022.
Lauren’s favourite projects working at Leaf
Before 2022, my main project was the Leaf Grow Platform and I have been QA-ing this product since 2018 when I began my tech journey. I was solely responsible for the quality of this product from March 2019 up until we began rehiring QA’s back in January 2021.
I have been able to expand my horizons this year by delving into different teams such as Web Shops, Data (Leaf Grow – Pacing & Performance), Data Services (Leaf Grow -Connect), and testing our Google scripts for automating reporting. Each project enables me to learn new things and broaden my knowledge.
My favourite projects definitely have to be Leaf Grow, Web Shops, and Data. I won’t expand too much into Leaf Grow but I’ve been a part of its journey since the beginning. It’s been amazing to see it grow into the platform it is now. The Leaf Grow platform project includes two teams: Insights & Reporting (in charge of insights, reports, and our native Client Hub) and Campaign Launcher (in charge of the process of launching and optimising campaigns).
As for Data; this was a completely new project for me. So there were many formulas and scenarios to test which was quite a daunting prospect to me as testing data and numbers can be an extensive job, as well as rather draining.
I commend those who can stare at numbers all day and not feel sleepy; you rock and I aspire to be like you! It took me around a week and a half to properly understand this platform and have enough knowledge in order to complete a regression test. So It did take me a little longer than other projects which usually take a couple of hours to maybe a day to grasp, which had me doubting my capabilities. I got annoyed at myself, “why is it taking me so long to understand this?!” but all it took was some patience and focus time.
Web Shops was an interesting one.
This one involved external clients which did take me out of my comfort zone as I needed to communicate on the odd occasion with the client through meetings and Slack channels, but I thoroughly enjoyed every second of it. Before having a dedicated QA for Web Shops, I had to step in to help on a couple of projects, and again, it was such a great opportunity to be given the chance to help in a new project. This was different from anything I had experienced before as it was actually my first time testing responsiveness on mobile, desktop, and tablet devices as the Leaf Grow platform has always just been desktop-focused, as well as having to be extremely strict with design/UI accuracy when comparing with Figma.
I feel that having a QA testing each project gives a lot of reassurance to the internal team – they rely on our products daily for insights and for automating workflows – so they know that things have been thoroughly tested before shipping to production for them and/or the client to use. As for external clients, they expect the product/website to be of the highest quality and stability 100% of the time, which is understandable considering how integral this is to their revenue.
I love a challenge.
I want to continue developing my expertise within the field of quality assurance and manual testing; I would love to be given the opportunity to test mobile applications some time down the line if the opportunity arises, to expand my knowledge further. Leaf has done everything to help me realise what I am actually capable of.
After testing the same platform for many years, I thought that was maybe all I was good at. But after having tested these other projects, I am feeling more confident in my work and role as a QA Analyst. I now understand that I can adapt more than I ever thought I could and also be flexible in what I can do and achieve. Thanks, Leaf for opening my eyes!
Lauren’s pro tips on…
Life is what you make of it. Make it a happy one.
Teamwork is such a big part of being a Leafer. Our work culture is very “people first” orientated so everybody feels happy coming to work every day. Nobody wants that dreaded “ugh, it’s Monday tomorrow…” Sunday feeling and it all comes down to us. Us playing our part in maintaining friendly and polite connections to our peers even if in disagreement.