Mike Bland

About me

I’m a computer programmer and Instigator for organizational change, originally from Hampton, Virginia.

Throughout my career across multiple organizations, I’ve driven adoption of effective automated testing practices as an essential part of the software development process. The problem essentially boils down to influencing mindset and culture over time, as solutions to most of the technical problems have existed for decades. See Making Software Quality Visible for a rigorous explanation of my approach.

From 2005-2010, I helped lead the Testing Grouplet’s five-year effort to drive automated testing adoption throughout Google. From 2009-2011, I also worked on websearch infrastructure. You can read details about my Google experience below.

Since then, I attended Berklee College of Music and worked for the United States federal government. I’ve dabbled in independent consulting practice, and facilitated organizational change at Cvent by establishing a system of Grouplets there.

I worked for Apple from November 2018 until November 2022, leading the Quality Culture Initiative. You can read about the QCI’s accomplishments in my Leaving Apple post.

You can view a more detailed résumé on my LinkedIn profile, and follow my open-source programming activity via my GitHub profile. I’m also a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM).

I’m currently taking a career break to weigh my future options. Despite an interesting career, as a Jimi Hendrix fanatic and a Beatlemaniac, I still dream of playing rock, blues, and jazz guitar for a living. Nothing may ever come of it, but I’m indulging myself for a little while.

Contact me

I welcome thoughtful conversations over email at mbland@acm.org.

Hire me

Though I’m taking a break at the moment, please see my Hire me! page for the method behind my madness.

Mike Bland in the Plaza España of Sevilla, Spain in
Sevilla, 2011. This one’s my favorite.
Click for a larger image.

More personal stuff

I grew up in Hampton and Newport News, Virginia, and lived there until 2005 (except for a brief stint in St. Louis in 1998). From 2005-2014, I lived in Silicon Valley, New York City, and Boston. I now reside in northern Virginia.

I hold two degrees from Christopher Newport University: a B.A. in Fine Arts/Theatre Concentration (1997) and a B.S. in Computer Science (2001).

While earning the latter, I helped lead a campus protest that resulted in keeping CNU’s computer science and environmental science grad programs. (Paywalled versions: Programs Get Support; Board OKs Continuance of Grad Programs) Soon after that, my first programming job was with Northrop Grumman Mission Systems in Newport News.

Mike Bland's September 2016 passport photo
Passport photo, September 2016. Turned out better than I expected. Amazing what proper diet, rest, and exercise will do.
Click for a larger image.


In addition to the technical and historical writing I’ve done on this site, I’ve also written posts and articles for other publications. The two most substantial I’ve written to date are:


I’ve been invited to give several presentations at Meetups, conferences, and various companies. A few that stand out are:

Mike Bland delivering The Rainbow of Death at Microscope Barcelona at the
Mobile World Center in Barcelona, Spain on May 4,
Click to watch the video of The Rainbow of Death from the Microscope Barcelona Meetup on March 4, 2017.


You can find articles covering some aspect of my work on my press page.


Links to my open-source programming work are available on my portfolio page. Highlights include:

Programming toolbox

At various points in my career, I’ve done extensive work in Bash, C/C++, Go, Node.js, Python, and Ruby.

I’ve also dabbled in HTML+CSS+JavaScript, Java, Lua, Objective-C, Perl, Rust, Scala, SQL, and Swift. I’ve played with Common Lisp, Scheme, and Haskell in the distant past, but have taken functional programming concepts to heart. (Of course, it helps that functional concepts have spread to various degress into almost all of the aforementioned languages.)

My preferred development environment has historically been Bash/Zsh + vim + tmux + git. Recently I’ve warmed up to Visual Studio Code—with Vim keybindings—while developing EListMan in Go, based on the Serverless Application Model provided by Amazon Web Services.

I use macOS as my base system and run Ubuntu Linux and Windows 11 using Parallels. I also welcome any opportunity to play with Docker, and have used Kubernetes a little bit.

United States General Services Administration: November 3, 2014-March 4, 2016

After three years away from the industry, I returned to work for the United States federal government as part of the General Services Administration. I talk about this experience in The Convergence of Wills and other presentations.

Mike Bland in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, Washington, D.C.,
in 2015
Eisenhower Executive Office Building, Washington, D.C., 2015. This picture was taken by Adam Garber for the United States Digital Service Recruiting Page, since they wouldn’t let me use the picture with the hat.
Click for a larger image. Original image source

Berklee College of Music: January 2013-June 2014

From spring 2013 until summer 2014, I attended Berklee College of Music in Boston, completing four semesters. Since the record deals weren’t pouring in, once I was recruited by the government, I left Berklee to reactivate my programming career.

Mike Bland's 2013 Berklee College of Music
Berklee College of Music, 2013.
Click for a larger image.

Despite leaving Berklee behind, as you can see, I still yearn to strap on a Stratocaster and make things happen:

Mike Bland sitting in with Detached Retina during DevOpsDays DC 2016 at
the Carlyle Club
Sitting in with Detached Retina during the happy hour for DevOpsDays DC 2016 at the Carlyle Club.
Click for a larger image.

Google: August 29, 2005-September 16, 2011

Before joining the websearch infrastructure team, I was a member of the Test Mercenaries, Build Tools, and Testing Technology teams. I was based in Mountain View, California from August 2005 through November 2008, and in New York City from November 2008 until September 2011.

In my 20% time, I participated in and eventually led the Testing Grouplet and the Fixit Grouplet, both of which had an impact on internal development tools and processes. I organized several testing- and tools-related Google-wide Fixits, and I was an early author and distributor of Testing on the Toilet newsletters.

I’ve distilled these experiences into my presentation The Rainbow of Death.

Mike Bland in Rapperswil, Switzerland in
Rapperswil, Switzerland, 2006. Taken by Henner Zeller with Ana Ulin nearby (or was it the other way around?).
Made this my internal employee photo, but still have no idea who turned it into this poster.
Click for a larger image.

Northrop Grumman Mission Systems: July 2, 2001-June 2005

Prior to Google, I worked on shipboard navigation and port monitoring systems for Northrop Grumman Mission Systems in Newport News, Virginia. That’s where I cut my teeth on C++ and Python, and began having success with automated (unit) testing.


I also attended Berklee, extremely briefly, once before…

Mike Bland's 1991 Berklee College of Music
Berklee College of Music, 1991.
Click for a larger image.

That was immediately after graduating from Bethel High School in Hampton, Virginia, right about the same time when Nirvana was deposing hair metal from its throne. And this is how it all started:

Mike Bland's 1974 rock star face
Rockin’ my Mom’s shag-tastic living room with a little help from Elvis, 1974.
Click for a larger image.


I originally based the style of this site on tom.preston-werner.com (source). It has been heavily modified since then.