STARWEST 2024 Keynote : You Don't Talk about That at Work!


Thursday, September 26, 2024 - 4:15pm to 5:15pm

You Don't Talk about That at Work!

There are things you don't discuss with your colleagues—even less so with your boss. Mental health issues are certainly a big no-no. Sophie Küster will discuss her experiences talking about the big workplace "No-Nos" and how that led her to support herself, as well gaining support from her boss, co-workers, and mentors. Ultimately, being able to discuss these workplace taboos led to her and others becoming their most authentic selves. When Sophie started working as an agile tester, she kept her history a secret. She didn't speak openly about topics that were close to her heart: mental health and self-care. But in agile, we value respect, courage, and openness, right? So, how could she reconcile these inconsistencies? How could she be courageous and open if she denies a part of herself? After Sophie attended her first-ever testing conference, she was in awe of the openness to discussing psychological topics. Inspired, and with her head still spinning from the conference experience (and a serious lack of sleep), she came clean to her boss on her first day back. To her surprise, her courage and openness changed her work life. Inspired by her vulnerability and transparency, others in her workplace felt secure discussing their experiences, and others sought her advice on helping others or themselves in a similar situation. Sophie will discuss how communication has improved for her and her team. She will give tips on being there for others in crisis and tell you why she will always talk about "the things you don't discuss at work!"

Sophie Küster

As a child, Sophie Küster wanted to be a ballerina or an astronaut...or both. Today, she holds diplomas in math and yodeling and is a test automation engineer at Cronn, a Bonn, German-based IT company. After years of successfully hunting bugs, she also trains and leads other testers. Recently, she has also dared to look behind the curtain as a developer so she can cut out the middle person and introduce the bugs herself. Sometimes, she speaks at conferences stranger to the universe’s gut punches, she is passionate about improving awareness and communication about mental health and self-care. When she's not busy testing or coding away at her computer, you can find her on a stand-up paddle board, in a tent (surprisingly often in the rain), or at a ballet barre. Sadly, never in a spaceship.