An Interview with Khurram Javed Mir, CMO, Kualitatem

by Noc Team on May 18, 2010

Interviewed by Sara Waqar Khan

Kualitatem is an award winning team providing independent Software Quality Assurance and Testing services. With a growing global clientele, Kualitatem specializes in performance, usability, security, cross platform compatibility and automation testing.

This week we bring to you the experience and expertise of a young and talented CMO- Khurram Javed Mir.

CodeWeek: Briefly tell us about yourself?

Khurram: During my graduation, I worked for many student organizations – so much so that my parents were concerned about my grades and my involvement in almost all the societies. In FAST me and Jamil, my business partner at Kualitatem, became the founders of afew societies and also of Wireless Communication Research Group as well. During third year of my graduation I started working in organizations like Xavor, CresSoft , Zultec etc.

So by the time I graduated I already had a couple of years of experience in the area of QA and software development for handheld devices. Later I joined organizations like Innovative and helped partially setup QA department of TRG. During 2005 I had two options. I was working on my own to develop a research proposal on simulation of protein folding problem OR set up my own business.

I was pretty much concluding one thing that I needed to be either into research or entrepreneurship where I could be free in implementing my ideas. I was selected by Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission’s National Institute of Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering (NIBGE) to attend a course on Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering. Till that time I was the only participant in the history of that course to have come from a computer science background, while all other participants were from natural sciences.

Later I joined LUMS and completed my MBA from there. That is how I got to the highest alma-meter!

CodeWeek: Tell us about major personal achievements in your life? Awards and Recognitions.

Khurram: Well I don’t think there are many personal achievements but I believe introducing an idea i.e. Software QA, in a market where quality is never taken seriously is a real difficult thing which I have achieved so far. In the beginning it was really difficult because no one would accept it. But then we took this idea to level where we won the Best Startup in Asia Pacific ’09 in Asia Pacific – I believe this was the highest point of being recognized at least till that time. Till today no other Pakistani company has achieved it, and we are looking forward for more such awards every year. We were also selected by MIT as one of three global startup success stories by students – and you can consider that as well.

CodeWeek: What was your earliest experience of enterprise? Have you always had entrepreneurial spirit?

Khurram: Yes – I definitely feel so. I would always question things around me, never was fascinated by traditional answers. I would always love to explore my thoughts and ideas. I don’t know how you define ‘experience of enterprise’, but I think during undergraduate studies, I participated in a lot of student activities. These helped nurture some qualities in me which are helping me in work as well.

Getting good grades is important but, lets be honest, not everyone turns out to be the best. And you do not require toppers in your team as well. A team is a finely balanced structure of individuals. Thus, I believe, students should focus on other activities as well. They groom you professionally. They also highlight your areas of strength and weaknesses. Consequently, you become a better individual.

CodeWeek: Tell us about Kualitatem.

Khurram: Kualitatem is a story about two friends who wanted to make an impact, who wanted to implement their ideas and see the results from themselves. We started in a 10×10 cubicle in LUMS with two personal computers. I met Jamil during my MBA first year and floated the idea of a company which just only performs software testing. We both were class fellows from FAST and had known each other for good 5-6 years. Initially, when we floated the idea in the market, Monis Rehman of Rozee.Pk , got excited about it – and hence we landed our first client. After that we kept working hard on developing the business and process model. Refining it with the requirements of each new customer – as we deemed necessary.

Gathering ten software testing engineers and asking them to test software, does not make a QA company. You need to have a vision and an idea about it – which lacks around us. How can we have a vision about a segment of our industry when it is considered to be only fit for those who lack skills for development? That’s where we have constantly been growing and edging past anyone – our constant focus has been on innovation and improvement of our processes and offerings.

On our way we have won awards and we have worked with some great companies, through which we have learnt alot. We have worked for companies like Microsoft, AVG, Netsol, Wateen, BBDO (World’s largest media company). Through our clients we have worked for companies like Virgin Air, FedEx, GE, AT&T, Umbro and many more. Now we are expanding in Middle East and US and hopefully will expand further. Currently, we are a team of around 25 people.We are in partnership with IBM for their testing suites brand Rational and are also in partnership with world renowned companies in the area of software testing. Our main aim is to become the best software QA Company in the world – where our name is associated to Software Quality.

CodeWeek: “Independent Software QA and testing Company”, How challenging has the journey been so far?

Khurram: Well, as I stated earlier, it has been a difficult yet really exciting journey. So think about it this way – if there is an existing market and you introduce a new brand, you get the benefits from existing brands and their market share. In our case, we were creating a market altogether. So people ask us, do we get outsourced work – how can we outsource it to you? We faced the critical problem of human resource and lack of QA talent.

Hence, we had to work on building a pool of resources who could become excellent software test engineers. And it’s not easy at all – in a market where people who get good grades, by default wish to become a part of software development. Our focus has been to hire bright in order to understand how software testing works.

I often state that the difference between a software developer and software test engineer is like an ‘If-Else’ loop. A developer implements whatever is in ‘IF’ part – and tester has to test it to be working for everything ‘Else’. So in many ways, it’s a shift of mind set and an attitude towards making sure that product quality is not compromised at any cost and at any level. This is what we try to address when we hire people.

CodeWeek: Being the CMO of Kualitatem what strategies do you use in marketing your services?

Khurram: Experimentation is the key. We have used B2B marketing by participating in different exhibitions both in Pakistan and abroad, we have participated in different student level functions at different universities and now we are focusing on social media marketing as well. I believe our customers can be anywhere and they shouldn’t be left out just because we are not paying attention to one particular medium. We must reach out to our customers – wherever they are. We have also made a digital ad which I can assure you no one would have ever made that kind of ad ever in the history of IT industry in Pakistan.

CodeWeek: How do you position your brand in the market?

Khurram: Since day 1, I have ensured that when people take our name they should know what we do. They should have a crystal clear idea about our offerings and if we can be of any help to them or not. Word Kualitatem is taken from ‘Qualitatem’ which has its root in the word Qualitas – and from this word term Quality was coined. You will find many companies who do everything – but our brand positioning is of a company which offers best QA services at affordable rates. That’s it! When it comes to services affordability, we are neither expensive nor we are cheap. We believe quality comes at a price and if someone is willing to pay that, we should ensure that the quality is delivered. And our portfolio of clients will suggest to you that we have delivered on that front.

CodeWeek: What would you tell budding Software enthusiasts as to what is Software Quality Assurance as their career?

Khurram: Well I can definitely tell you that QA has a huge potential for anyone who wants to be in this field. People normally think that it is just about manual testing. At Kualitatem we do all kinds of testing – like Performance, Security, Usability, Code Reviews etc. We also test for different kinds of applications such as Mobile apps, video games, desktop apps, web apps. So if you think about it – if you work with us, in one year you will get to have testing flavor of so many different domains and types, which is unmatched to any other company or even to software development – where you only develop things in one language for a good number of years. There is a massive career path in this area, you can move from testing to auditing to compliance – get yourself certified for different tools and processes. In my opinion, sky is the limit in this field – more than any other field in IT.

CodeWeek: What are your personal and professional plans for the immediate future and for next 10 years?

Khurram: We want to dominate QA space both in Pakistan and abroad. We want to have the best talent working with us and we want to provide our clients, best set of services. Our plans are to expand in Middle East and US in short term and then to other emerging markets, in next 5 years. Personally, Kualitatem is my dream project on which I am working right now. And my goal is to make it the best in the world and compete head on with all the big names we hear in this world. In 10 years, I hope we are global players in the QA market with 5% of world’s market share in testing area.

CodeWeek: With many emerging companies, what will be your advice to them?

Well my advice would be to work hard – there are no short cuts. If you want to be an entrepreneur, know it that it will take 20 hours of your day. You won’t be able to sleep properly at nights, You won’t be able to eat properly, You won’t have money in your pocket because you will always be wondering if you should hire more resources and expand or wait for more clients and then expand. It’s an ongoing circular process. You won’t be able to spend much time with your friends and family because in your free time– they will either be busy or already asleep.

I give this analogy to people – an entrepreneur is like a predator. A predator has to 2 skills. Patience and Perseverance. It needs patience when it is waiting for its prey and cannot do much till that time. Thus, an entrepreneur is waiting for client and all it can do is knock at all the possible doors and wait till someone opens it for him. Predators need perseverance when they run after prey and want to hunt it down, because then it’s the race for survival.

Lastly, learn to respect your dreams. People might laugh at you for your dreams – but that hardly matters. But when you laugh at yours, well after that your dreams don’t matter.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Muhammad Riaz May 19, 2010 at 3:20 AM

Impressive Interview I especially like two statements among them:
“software developer and software test engineer is like an ‘If-Else’ loop. A developer implements whatever is in ‘IF’ part – and tester has to test it to be working for everything ‘Else’.”

and
“learn to respect your dreams. People might laugh at you for your dreams – but that hardly matters. But when you laugh at yours, well after that your dreams don’t matter.”

Great Motivational statement for everyone to see dreams……….

Rafaeel Akbar Chaudhry May 19, 2010 at 10:05 AM

Awesome! K-JAM Rocks :)

samreen May 19, 2010 at 3:46 PM

Nice Idea!!! Its about striving for excellence. Its now time that ppl should really give importance to quality, quality Assurance and quality assurers.

Saqib Mubarik May 19, 2010 at 3:58 PM

Great work Khurram & Jamil.

I am sure small step like these will make you more confident and sound individuals. You are making your family and friends proud of you and our country. We are in desperate need of people like you.

The world is open to you to be conquered! Go get it!!

Ayesha May 21, 2010 at 6:57 AM

Waao, very well said:
” learn to respect your dreams. People might laugh at you for your dreams – but that hardly matters. But when you laugh at yours, well after that your dreams don’t matter.”

I strongly agree with the above statement! I do believe that a Human Being can do any/every thing!!! It always feel so proud to know about Pakistani youth working and struggling so hard! These people are self-made people and very soon Inshallah the coming generation would take Pakistan to the highest in every industry! Pakistan-Zindabad

Farwa Ali May 22, 2010 at 4:42 PM

excellent interview, we are dire need of such professionals in IT Industry. Hats off to you sire, EXCELLENT WORK.

Kashif Shahzad May 25, 2010 at 1:20 AM

Awesome work done by Khurram & Jamil, It is a good initiative to promote quality work and source of motivation for young SQA personnels.

Thumbs up!
Keep it up…….

Nadeem Mukhtar May 28, 2010 at 6:17 AM

It is indeed the great interview and i m proud of that i have worked with Mr Khurram.

Keep it up

May Allah Give u more success.

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