Testlio is a globally distributed company that operates fully remote. We spend most work hours at our home offices connecting with each other only through emails, IM, Zoom, or Slack huddles. Every once in a while, we get the whole TestLion Pride together to foster those human connections in person.

Back in 2015, when Testlio was only 3 years old, the first company gathering took place in a cottage near Viljandi, a small town in Southern Estonia. It was a humble gathering of 14 people from Estonia and the US.  Today, there’s hundreds of us – and trying to fit everyone into a small cottage wouldn’t even be possible.

Despite the logistical challenges of getting us all together, we realize how important real human connections are for employee empowerment and career growth. Now, we take a whole week every year to focus on each other. Let us take you on a journey through that wonderful gathering called LionFest and share some highlights from LionFest 2022.

Enabling human possibilities company-wide

LionFest gives us TestLions a chance to connect with each other in various ways: one on one, within our teams, and as a whole company. On each of those levels, there are topics to discover, problems to tackle, and ideas to share. This year, we started each day together, be it a session to meet one of our investors or tackle a company challenge.

People are gathered around the table, discussing something

Sometimes, we’re so involved in our own work that the many nuances that make Testlio stellar are overlooked. All of our stakeholder groups: full-time and part-time people, our freelance network, investors, users of our customers, customers and their product/engineering/quality teams, and our communities. This year, we met one of our investors Jeff Williams and picked his brain about business, investing, and the future of tech.

Testlio's CEO Steve and our investor Jeff in armchairs on the stage, talking

Improving the experience of our stakeholders

In one of our activities, TestLions were divided into groups and each got to pick a piece of feedback from one of our stakeholders (freelance tester, investor, partner, etc.) and create an initiative that would improve their experience and record a video introducing the idea. These are then evaluated by our Learning and Development team to envision how those seeds can continue to grow.

Man taking a video of a woman with his phone

Seeing testing through the eyes of our freelancers

Even though LionFest is a gathering for our full-time TestLions, we also featured our freelance testers and people we have supported to become testers. During the “voices of our freelancers” session, current freelancers shared their stories and experiences as part of our network. Similarly, for TestLions from non-services departments to understand what freelancers do on our testing platform, Rudolf Elbrecht, Senior Director of Quality Assurance, held testing workshops where people could train on a manual functional testing run.

Supporting communities beyond our offices

The session that brought tears to people’s eyes was definitely our Social Impact panel, where we discussed major societal problems and how we can help alleviate them. We highlighted our ongoing Ignite program that provides testing education and resources to people who have faced significant life challenges. Each class, consisting of 10-12 individuals, gains all of the knowledge, skills, and understanding needed to begin a career in software testing. They go on to become freelancers in our network or find full-time jobs. We invited three Igniters to LionFest to tell their stories. Tarcisio, Eric and Preche. It was empowering to see that our initiatives support communities and help people establish new careers and improve their quality of life.

Three people in armchairs and one person in a wheelchair on on the stage, talking.

Letting our TestLions knowledge and talents shine

LionFest is not a top-down event with executives standing on stage and delivering speeches. It’s an opportunity to create a platform for TestLions to share personal skills or show off their hidden talents. We hosted an event called The Unconference (which we’ve done for many years), where people hold an hour-long workshop session about a topic close to their heart. We’ve had Romil hold a discussion about running, Tim take us on a hike in Louisiana with the hopes of seeing alligators, and Oksana shares techniques on becoming more self-aware in our day-to-day life.

“Hosting the unconference session was a baby step in practicing what I’ve learned during my first year at Gestalt Institute of Scandinavia with a group of safe and awesome people. It gave me confidence that I can manage. It gave me assurance that one doesn’t need to be a psychotherapy client in order to participate in the events of a type. It gave me the inspiration to think further on how I can improve the people’s mental well-being in the IT industry.”

Oksana Lang, Quality Assurance Strategist

In addition to all of the conference sessions, we threw a party! A jungle-themed party with fun videos, a photo box, live trivia session, and an open mic. Who would have known that we’ve got so many TestLions who create music and dance like pros? Did you already take a look at the short video compilation above of the party? 👆

Working from home, we don’t always see how multifaceted and interesting the people are at Testlio. LionFest is a great way for us to come together and build connections with each other for who we are – an empowered TestLion Pride that is enabling human possibilities.

Feel like becoming a TestLion and experiencing LionFest? 🦁