I’m Adam Ulrich, and I’m the test manager for a version 1 tool in the developer tools division of Microsoft.  I won’t be able to say a lot about this product until it is publicly announced, but I hope to share with you a lot about process, tools, and why were doing what we’re doing.

I’ve worked at Microsoft for 8 years in QA. Originally I worked on data tools that shipped in SQL Server, Access, VC, VB, and VID. Next job was Workflow Design Tools for SQL Server, which morphed into group that was combined to deliver the Office Developer Edition, which contained a wide variety of tools (Access Run Time and Packaging Wizard, SQL and Exchange Workflow Designers.

Prior to Microsoft, I spent 10 years in Health Physics. I worked at power plants from Trojan near Portland, OR to Maine Yankee in (yep, you guessed it) Maine. I spend the last several years of that decade primarily working at DOE facilities monitoring and supervising clean-up/decommissioning efforts. I worked at Norfolk Naval Air Station, Ames Laboratory and UC-Davis during this time. I stopped glowing a while ago! <g>

So how did I end up in QA at Microsoft? Well, I’ve always had a real love for computers and code. Maybe love isn’t strong enough? Obsession might be closer.

I’ve been writing code since high school; in fact, I left college after a year because I got a job during summer break writing code for a small business at age 20. That small business went under after a couple of years, and at that point I didn’t want to go back to school, and I sort of fell into this apprenticeship program that got me qualified in Health Physics. After 10 years, getting married and having two children, the travel that my job required was just not conducive to the kind of family life I wanted, and I started looking for an alternative career.

While I was doing my nuclear work, I had always kept my coding skills up. Again, that might not be guite descriptive enough. I attempted in inject using computers in everything I did. Documentation, machine calibrations, whatever it was, I did everything I could with my laptop. I wrote code to automate as much of my job as I could.

Besides all the heavy travel my job required, it also required long hours. I typically worked 60-72 hours per week for 3-6 months, then I would have 1-2 months off before my next job in another location. During this off periods, I was writing code all the time. I was a fantasy sports addict (still am!), and I wrote my own software to parse raw stats available online and kept track of all the stats for my fantasy baseball, football, and basketball leagues.

Then in early 1996, I ran into an old friend who had been at microsoft as a contractor for a while. She explained what she did, and suggested that I come to a job fair that was happening in a couple weeks. I was living in Portland at the time, although I had always considered Seattle my home. I had lived in Seattle several times during my childhood, and I had graduated high school in the area as well, so the thought of moving back was quite appealing.

So I came to the job fair, handed out lots of resumes, and I had two interviews the next week. Two weeks later, I was invited to interview at Microsoft for a contract position. And two weeks later I had a contract job writing vb code to test a db design tool. I fell in love with what I was getting paid to do. You know, like, I can’t believe I’m getting paid to do what I love to do! 6 months later, I was offered a full-time software test engineer position. Since then, I’ve taken jobs as a Software Design Engineer in Test, as a Test Lead, and now as a Test Manager. Each one has had it’s set of challenges (from technical to people management). I can honestly say that I’ve loved every job that I’ve had here.

I’ve been married for 16 years to my wonderful wife Brenda, and I have 5 sons and 1 brand new daughter: Aaron (15), Garrison (11), Christian (6), Rylan (5), Jackson (3), and Victoria (5 weeks). You can see my family album at


Comments (7)

  1. Anonymous says:

    How hard is it to get a job at microsoft?

  2. Anonymous says:

    A nice topic for my next blog post. I’ll comment on that then. In the meantime, there was a post called screen door by Michael, the Braidy Tester that would be relevant to this topic that you might want to read.