This is how I described my job out of a whim in LinkedIn:
A hands-on tester with enough seniority to figure out what is right for whatever goal assigned. Working on making the Corporate Security Client awesome through empirical evidence and smart testing approaches.With two weeks in the company and some hands-time with both production versions and upcoming versions of the product, I recognize many (most) things are the same. This lead me to ask myself the question: why is it that I see this as a way forward in my career? I clearly do.
On my previous round of F-Secure, I was in a test manager position - or at least, that is how I thought of it. There was a bunch of other testers I was helping to be more awesome at testing, and rarely when I felt there was time from all the meetings, I tested. Often mostly localizations and UI, perhaps because I was particularly adept for those tasks in relation to many others.
Test Management wasn't completely new to me, but it was new enough to hog a major part of my days. I relied more on information I could get from other people, than on information the software would give me.
This has changed. I lost a money-worthy argument with a significant vendor in a job after F-Secure because I had done what my manager told me: "you are too expensive / valuable to test hands-on, just guide the others". And I would have had better empirical evidence if I would have instead spent 2 days of the week locked up away from useless meetings, hands-on testing. I would have known things that I ended up speculating on. I could have shown what works and what doesn't better.
I notice that at F-Secure, I'm still fighting the old habit from coming back. I don't need to be part of all the discussions. I don't need to talk to every product manager and owner. I need to be selective, and I need to be able to trust people to tell me things - or that the software when tested tells me things they forgot to tell me. And I can do that now, with a few more years of experience under my belt.
There's another thing that is clearly very different. Now we have significant amounts of automation. And programmers who unit test! I'm delighted to have collaboration with my team's test automation specialist on end points we want to use when testing things, approaches to make our existing automation more versatile and smart, and things to add from what I learn through exploration.
Where the company is now and where I am now, all of this makes it different. And I believe being a better empirical technologist is a better step forward on my career than becoming a manager. Seniority gives me similar things than managers get from their role. But the practicality and impact through practicality - that's the thing I strive for.