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At the moment, VALA is made up of 107 people. These 107 people work within various fields, from test automation to customer management, software development to people operations and test management to DevOps.

Working in a business that is not time- or location-specific, we have to find innovative ways of:

1. Sharing knowledge and learning from each other.

2. Getting inspired and motivating each other.

3. Offering both emotional and technical support to each other.

One of the most transformative solutions to this challenge, have been the communities within VALA, that have been sprouting up like mushrooms in the rain during the previous year or two. These communities are made up of people who share a similar interest, and want to meet up to workshop various topics within the realm of their passion. VALA people can belong to as many communities as they want, and anyone can create a new community around their interest of choice. 

In this three post blog series, we will hear from the brave VALA people, who act as community facilitators. We will hear their thoughts and stories on why the community exists and what the future holds for each community. The three blogs cover the following communities: 

1. Mhub (Quality Assurance) & ACE (Automation)

2. DevOps, AI (Artificial Intelligence) & SDC (Software Development)

3. Bizzcult (Business & Culture) & People skills

In this first post we’ll cover the Mhub- and ACE-communities. 


M-hub facilitator Juuso Issakainen

Hi Juuso! Let’s dive in. Why does the Mhub community exist? 

The purpose of the community has actually shifted from a test management community, to a broader QA community. The objective now is to bring people together and discuss topics around testing and QA. The community functions through seminar type workshops, as well as more relaxed discussions. We are also in the process of building shared material and toolboxes, to concretise our discussions and the “VALA way” of working.

Who is the community for?

The community is for everyone interested in QA and testing topics. People can participate in listen-only mode, or as active participants, whatever they feel comfortable with.

I actually sent a survey recently, regarding the reasons people participate in M-hub. It was fun to see how many varying reasons were mentioned: meeting up with colleagues, for the sense of togetherness, to share war stories from the customer-front, to get inspired, learn new techniques, and to get emotional support, as the community also functions as a form of group therapy for many.

What’s your best memory from the community?

Last year, we did mindfulness exercises at the beginning of the workshops to set ourselves in the right state of mind. That was something new and memorable.

Food of choice during the community workshop intermissions?

That’s an easy one — pizza of course. We should generally have more pizza at the office.

What does the future of the community look like?

I’d like to see more cooperation with other communities in the future. I’d also like us to publish concrete material and workbooks, that really demonstrates what we do at VALA and how we do it.

What workshop topics would you like to see in the near future?

I’d like us to arrange a workshop on exploratory testing and generally, more workshops on new tools and technologies. A company excursion would also be fun, or possibly getting some super testing gurus to visit us!

If M-hub would go on an excursion, where would you like it to go?

New york. Or Stockholm if NY is out of our budget range. Or the Siili, Supercell or Rovio offices if our budget is really tight. Content is the key, so that should define it!

Thank you Juuso!


Lauri Peltola the facilitator of ACE

Lauri Peltola the facilitator of ACE

Hi Lauri! Thanks for taking the time to talk to me. Why does ACE, the automation community exist? 

The community is about developing and diversifying our automation skills at VALA. The community operates especially around test automation. I’m interested in the community myself, because of the professional development perspective, as I want to develop my own automation skills.

Who is the community for?

The community is for everyone at VALA and Siili. Participants can simply be interested in topics within software automation, but the community also offers a platform for the very passionate automation specialists, who want to take their skills to the next level. 

Participants are not required to be professionals in the field, but a little experience will definitely help you get started. Workshops are designed with varying objectives — some workshops are suited for beginners, and others require more experience.

What’s your best memory from the community?

I really enjoy the workshops, where we learn about new technologies and people share experiences from their projects.

On one occasion, we had two demos: one on XCTest, a mobile testing tool, and the other on Selenium testability, a Robot Framework library. It’s useful to have these types of introductions that scratch the surface of various tools. It’s good to understand their potential and limitations, in case one would ever like to try it out in a project themselves.

Food of choice during the community workshop intermissions?

VALA doesn’t buy meat for the office, but my ideal intermission meal would be my own sustainably hunted moose meat. 

Afterwork drinks at the office or in a pub?

First drinks at the office, to get all the work talk out of our system. Next drinks at a relaxed beer tavern. 

What does the future of ACE look like?

I’d like to see more demos on various tools, in order to diversify VALA’s skill set. VALA’s new customer projects offer new topic ideas and challenges to solve. With strong cooperation with both Siili’s SALabs, and VALA’s customer management team, we can tackle our customers’ automation needs with the most up to date know-how. 

Another objective is to record our future workshops, prepare shared material and accumulate an extensive library of automation topics.

If automation saves time and enhances efficiency, what would you spend your new spare time on? 

I’d spend it on further development. 

Does that mean you’re never done with work? Will you ever be able to just sit back at your North Karelia summer house and enjoy not doing anything?

I used to work as a security guard when I was younger. During onboarding, we were told how the work routine is basically a never-ending loop, going over the same routes over and over again. Because the work literally never ends, you shouldn’t stress about trying to get everything done at the fastest possible tempo, but rather focus on doing it with the highest of quality and enjoying life whilst working. 

I believe this relates to automation work as well – development is an endless loop so better to not rush through it. That’s why I’m currently at my summer house in North Karelia, enjoying nature whilst working.

Ah, good to hear. Thank you Lauri!