Stepping out of your comfort zone: Abigail's journey to keynote speaker

Thu, 13 Jun, 2024

The EuroSTAR Software Testing Conference is a vibrant celebration of the craft of software testing. It is the longest-running and largest testing conference in Europe, featuring a wide variety of topics. This year, it takes place in Sweden from June 11-14. Yesterday, Kindred’s Domain Architect, Abigail Cauchi, delivered the opening keynote. Abigail’s journey from academic research to joining the gambling industry and becoming a keynote speaker at one of the world's top software testing conferences is truly inspiring. Based in Malta, Abigail has been with Kindred for six years.

We delved deeper into her journey and what has fueled her career growth in the dynamic and challenging environment of the online gambling industry.

1. What drove your initial transition from academic research to the online gambling industry? What motivated this shift?

I can’t say that I planned it this way. Like most people who finish a PhD, I was working on research contracts and planning to eventually get a lectureship at a university. Being a successful academic depends on how much one can publish and how much funding one can secure to fund the research. Both publishing and getting funding felt challenging to me, and I didn’t always feel like I was fully in control of my career.

I took a software testing job in the online gambling industry to move away from academic life. I very quickly realized that here, I can improve things without a constant battle for funding or publication. I can have a quick and tangible impact. After moving to Kindred Group, I felt even more empowered to help drive positive change. Seeing how Kindred values sustainable gambling, six years on, I still feel the same way. And the best bit? I work with colleagues who are brilliant and genuinely care about making things work.

2. How has your background influenced your approach to testing at Kindred?

From academia, I still have very strong values of presenting my own work with integrity. I catch myself still loosely following the scientific process in parts of my work that I find challenging. Reaching a conclusion in the company doesn’t always require the entire process or as much rigor. And the activities are rarely sequential. I use the scientific approach as a thinking framework to help me gain new knowledge. Finally, coming from academia has helped me simplify complex concepts, think about them, and communicate them in simple ways. This has been my superpower when it comes to contributing value and insights.

3. What were the biggest challenges when transitioning to the new industry, and how did you overcome them?

Moving from academia to online gambling was a culture shock for me. Mostly in a good way, and of course, in some ways that I’m still working on. I went into it with an open mind and a willingness to learn and grow. Things just work differently. Getting a good understanding of what the company values has taken me a long way.

I have been fortunate to have had fantastic managers and mentors who have given me real and honest feedback that I have learned a lot from. Moreover, Kindred’s women’s network ‘Womenkind’ has been an incredible source of support and empowerment for me. More informally, some close colleagues with a lot more experience than me have also helped me learn and grow, even those who have never been officially assigned to me as a manager or mentor. Overall, I think I’m quite open about discussing what I find challenging, and I’ve been very fortunate to always have had a helping hand.

4. What advice would you give to someone looking to step out of their comfort zones and pursue a career change similar to yours?

Go in with a humble and open mind, and find mentors who you look up to and trust. One more thing: make sure that you are in an environment that is positive and where management actively tries to get the best out of you. I’ve been very lucky at Kindred, where my managers have actively supported me in growing my strengths and setting me challenging tasks that they know I would excel at.

Thank you, Abigail. We look forward to your future accomplishments!


  • Kati Leppanen
    Corporate Brand Manager