Irja Straus


Irja Straus is a Quality Engineering Manager with almost 15 years of experience in the IT industry. She started her professional adventure as a software tester and business analyst, after which she took over the product manager role in the first Croatian unicorn. After a multi-year product adventure, Irja decided to accept the challenge of establishing testing practices and integrating quality from the very beginning. For the past few years, she has focused on modern exploratory testing, developing quality engineering practices, process organization, and encouraging healthy collaboration between teams. In addition, she is an active member of several Croatian and international communities focused on testing and quality. She can often be found as a guest at professional conferences where she enthusiastically conveys her experiences.

About the Presentation

Lead Your Way Into the Future by Managing Up


“Congratulations! The company is going through a major reorganization, and you will lead a new test team.” I said, “Finally! Challenge accepted!”. Everything was fine until one fine spring day I received a message from my boss: “Can’t we just automate all the tests and make them green?”.

I thought years of experience in different roles would make me ready for the challenge, but things weren’t quite as evident as they seemed at first because I understood the priorities differently. I thought my priority was leading a team. But after that message, it became clear – my job is not just to “lead the team” but to “lead the people above me” first.

The above becomes more critical considering the trends of reducing company management positions, where we often see test managers being let go. That is why we must become our own test managers and master the invisible skills of managing up.

In this talk, I’ll share my experience and how I learned (the hard way) that managing up is a crucial skill for a tester but somehow invisible because no one teaches it to us. I want to tell you the story and elevate the visibility of those skills so that tomorrow, you can use them to have agency over your work.