Speakers & talks

Two days of technical leadership talks

We're thrilled to announce this year's program speakers and talks guaranteed to help you grow as a technical leader. You can look forward to talks on breaking down silos, developing talent, delegating as technical leads, scaling distributed culture, letting people go, neurodiversity in tech, goal setting for managers, advocating for change and so much more!

A-Z speakers

Goal setting for managers

Allison McMillan

Senior Engineering Manager

GitHub

Allison McMillan

You know how to set goals. You know it’s important. You do it with your folks, guide them through the what, the why, and the how. You make sure they’re growing professionally... but what about you?

You know how to set goals. You know it’s important. You do it with your folks, guide them through the what, the why, and the how. You make sure they’re growing professionally... but what about you?

Your work as a manager is much less tangible, more long-term wins over short-term gains. In this 10-minute crash course, you’ll learn how to set goals as a leader and follow up on them to ensure your career is progressing as much as you’re helping others progress.

About Allison McMillan

Allison McMillan is a Senior Engineering Manager at GitHub. She's worn many hats including community builder at the University of Michigan, software developer, and Managing Director of a national non-profit. Allison also started a podcast about being a parent in tech, Parent Driven Development. She is a Mozilla Tech Speaker and speaks on a variety of topics including mentorship, working remotely, and more. When she's not coding, you can find her encouraging her son's climbing skills, making faces at her toddler daughter, or pretending she has time to bake. Allison lives in the DC area.

Write like you care

Amy Nguyen

Software Engineer

Stripe

Amy Nguyen

Writing well will make you stand out as a leader at work. Good writing can go viral within your company and change the way people think. Bad writing wastes everyone's time, including your own.

Writing well will make you stand out as a leader at work. Good writing can go viral within your company and change the way people think. Bad writing wastes everyone's time, including your own.

A good "manager README" can serve as a jumping point for people to understand your values; a bad README might look like it would fit in better on a MySpace profile. A good runbook helps you go back to sleep within minutes; a bad runbook will tell you the tale of its people while everything is burning down around you. The common thread among these examples is that bad writing makes the mistake of centering the writer's experience over that of the reader.

In this talk, I'll describe a framework for beginning from your own motivation for writing at work, deciding on the most important message, and specific ways your writing can fail in spite of your efforts. We'll evaluate examples of writing while asking ourselves if the writing puts the reader first. We'll come away with some specific tools for writing at work (including template questions to ask yourself when writing announcements, meeting notes, READMEs, and weekly snippets) and all of our writing from now on will be a joy for our coworkers to read.

About Amy Nguyen

Amy Nguyen is a senior software engineer at Stripe. She is a founding engineer on Stripe’s engineering team in Singapore and currently works on designing the next generation of payment APIs for the Asia Pacific region. Before moving to Singapore, Amy worked on observability at Stripe and Pinterest in San Francisco. Amy holds a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Stanford University. At Stanford, she served on the board of Stanford Women in Computer Science for three years and was instrumental in making computer science the most popular major for undergraduate women at Stanford.

Supporting neurodiversity in tech

Anna Granta

CEO and Coach

Granta Coaching

Anna Granta

In this talk you will learn what neurodiversity is, the strengths and difficulties of neurodiverse people and how you can best work with, manage and recruit your neurodiverse colleagues.

In this talk you will learn what neurodiversity is, the strengths and difficulties of neurodiverse people and how you can best work with, manage and recruit your neurodiverse colleagues.

I will share my experience as someone with dyslexia in tech and what I have learned as an expert coach for people with neurodiversity.

Some people's brains work differently, in this talk, you will learn how to harness differences within your team so that everyone can do their best work. You will learn:

  • what dyslexia, ADHD and autism are and how they can be advantages in tech
  • what support you should offer to enable everyone to do their best
  • which types of tasks will allow different people to shine
  • what this means for recruitment

About Anna Granta

Over the last 10 years, Anna Granta has worked in a variety of roles in tech, most recently as ML Engineering Team Lead at Featurespace. Her gift is understanding people, what they want, what they are truly capable of and where they are holding themselves back.

Anna has dyslexia and has had the privilege of working with many other neurodiverse people. Her passion is working with neurodiverse people to help them use their strengths to realize their ambitions.

How to build a lean green money-making machine?

Asim Hussain

Green Cloud Advocacy Lead

Microsoft

Asim Hussain

Grey apps are unfit, dirty and lazy, ripe for disruption. Green apps are cleaner, leaner, faster, cheaper, more battery efficient and smarter.

Grey apps are unfit, dirty and lazy, ripe for disruption. Green apps are cleaner, leaner, faster, cheaper, more battery efficient and smarter.

Green apps don't take longer to write than Grey apps; they don't perform worse than Grey apps; they simply require some planning and discipline in execution.

In this talk, I'll explain what it means for an application to be Green. I'll also present the 12 Factor Green App Methodology, a clear, concise plan for building Green applications.

You'll walk away tooled up and ready to build a lean Green application you can be proud of.

About Asim Hussain

Asim is a developer, trainer, author and speaker with over 19 years experience working for organisations such as the European Space Agency, Google and now Microsoft, where he is the Green Cloud Advocacy Lead.

Doing the hard thing right

Brad Wright

CTO

Pollen

Brad Wright

Letting go of people from your organisation who no longer work well there is one of the hardest things to do well, especially if you place a high value on culture, kindness, and safety within your team. However, this is an essential skill to learn if you want to maintain the great culture you and your team have built together.

Letting go of people from your organisation who no longer work well there is one of the hardest things to do well, especially if you place a high value on culture, kindness, and safety within your team. However, this is an essential skill to learn if you want to maintain the great culture you and your team have built together.

In this talk I'll walk you through my story to teach you some thinking and rules for remaining a principled, kind, and transparent manager while you perform one of the hardest (and least discussed!) tasks you can perform. I learned these skills the hard way, getting it wrong time and time again as I scaled the technology function at Pollen.

We'll talk about dignity, respect, kindness, the "blast radius" of a bad exit, and how to never surprise anyone.

About Brad Wright

Brad is a technical leader with over 20 years of experience in almost every type of tech company and life stage. He's currently CTO at Pollen, a London-based startup focused on elevating the lives of young people through experiences.

The line

Carina C. Zona

Developer Advocate

CallbackWomen

Carina C. Zona

What connects San Francisco's devastating 1906 earthquake, coal mining a century ago, French Resistance fighters during World War II, IBM's Watson, and the #TechWontBuildIt labor movement? Data. Lots and lots of data. Collected for unremarkable reasons, then misused to deny civil rights and to systematically perpetrate violence.

What connects San Francisco's devastating 1906 earthquake, coal mining a century ago, French Resistance fighters during World War II, IBM's Watson, and the #TechWontBuildIt labor movement? Data. Lots and lots of data. Collected for unremarkable reasons, then misused to deny civil rights and to systematically perpetrate violence.

For as long as humans have been counting and quantifying each other, individuals with access to data collection have encountered circumstances that raise a not-so-simple question: "Do I follow my conscience, or follow the money?" History shows that some answer it with sacrifice, some choose to engage in subversion from within, some are paralyzed by indecision. A few look away instead.

"Where's my line?" is the guiding question, and it's challenging. In this session, we'll connect dots between the past and our roles in tech today, and look at myriad ways to identify where your own line is drawn. You'll come away prepared to start engaging with the hard questions while drawing inspiration from the courage and quandaries of those who've come before us.

About Carina C. Zona

Carina C. Zona is a developer, advocate, and certified sex educator. She spends a lot of time thinking about the unexpected cultural effects of our decisions as programmers. Carina is also the founder of CallbackWomen, which since 2012 has been on a mission to radically increase gender diversity at the podium of professional programmers’ conferences.

Explainable Artificial Intelligence (XAI): concepts and challenges

Carla Vieira

Software Engineer

Loggi

Carla Vieira

As machine learning becomes a crucial component of a growing number of user-facing applications, interpretable machine learning has become an increasingly important area of research for several reasons. First, as humans are the ones who train, deploy, and often use the predictions of machine learning models in the real world, it is of utmost importance for us to be able to trust the model. Apart from indicators such as accuracy on sample instances, a user’s trust is directly impacted by how much they can understand and predict the model’s behaviour, as opposed to treating it as a black box.

As machine learning becomes a crucial component of a growing number of user-facing applications, interpretable machine learning has become an increasingly important area of research for several reasons. First, as humans are the ones who train, deploy, and often use the predictions of machine learning models in the real world, it is of utmost importance for us to be able to trust the model. Apart from indicators such as accuracy on sample instances, a user’s trust is directly impacted by how much they can understand and predict the model’s behaviour, as opposed to treating it as a black box.

The good news is that we have made great strides in some areas of explainable AI. The bad news is that creating explainable AI is not easy and simple as related in medium articles. In this talk, I defend that we should separate explanations from the model (i.e. being model agnostic) because true model interpretability will cost performance and accuracy.

About Carla Vieira

Carla is a Brazilian Software Engineer, coordinator at perifaCode, a teacher at Tecnogueto, a post-graduate student at USP and Artificial Intelligence evangelist. perifaCode is a community for black and underrepresented groups in Brazil and Tecnogueto is an organization that teaches computer science skills to black and underrepresented groups in Brazil and aims to create economic opportunity by developing a new generation with an entrepreneurial mindset and tools to succeed in a technological world.

Remote linguistics: communication considerations for an asynchronous workplace

Carter Bastian

Director of Culture

College Pulse

Carter Bastian

Remote work has changed the nature of the workplace. With the number of remote workers growing by 91% in the last 10 years, chances are you've already experienced working in an asynchronous workplace. Modern engineers and managers face a never-before-seen challenge; adapting communication practices to a distributed environment, where communication happens in-writing more than in-person.

Remote work has changed the nature of the workplace. With the number of remote workers growing by 91% in the last 10 years, chances are you've already experienced working in an asynchronous workplace. Modern engineers and managers face a never-before-seen challenge; adapting communication practices to a distributed environment, where communication happens in-writing more than in-person.

In this talk, we'll apply linguistics research to the asynchronous workplace, and we'll build a set of actionable insights to help distributed teams thrive. For example, we'll discuss:

  • What we can learn about a team's health from their Slack archives
  • How to leverage existing linguistic tools to create spaces that foster diversity
  • Three overlooked roles of emojis in team communication
  • How punctuation can cause unintended conflict between senior and junior team members
  • Commonly used "violent metaphors" in technology that make discussions less inclusive
  • The best techniques for over-communicating productively
  • How to give better feedback from across the country (instead of from across the room)

This talk will dive into the obstacles facing digital workers, and explore the tools that enable us to strengthen communication on distributed teams.

About Carter Bastian

Carter is a software engineer and remote-work thought leader from Spokane, Washington. After graduating from Dartmouth's computer science program, he joined the engineering team at Khan Academy. He later became the Director of Culture for College Pulse, where he is now helping to build and scale a remote team that can change the polling industry for the better.

A Cartographer’s dilemma: 5 techniques for building competitive technology roadmaps

Crystal Hirschorn

VP Engineering, Global Strategy and Operations

Condé Nast

Crystal Hirschorn

Our ability to grasp the industry landscape, our organisational topologies, customer needs and existing Product & Technology ecosystems can chart the success or failure of the effort of our teams and ultimately our business. Luckily, there are some killer planning and discovery tools at our disposal that can be leveraged to set us up to have a competitive advantage.

Our ability to grasp the industry landscape, our organisational topologies, customer needs and existing Product & Technology ecosystems can chart the success or failure of the effort of our teams and ultimately our business. Luckily, there are some killer planning and discovery tools at our disposal that can be leveraged to set us up to have a competitive advantage.

This talk will cover tools and techniques such as:

  • Creating an Internal Tech Radar: an artefact for discovering emergent technologies and practices adoption
  • Decision Records: Tools for articulating, documenting and validating decisions across Product and Technology
  • Internal and External Marketing: Creating roadmaps that are influential in all directions of the business (up, down, and sideways across your peer group)
  • Knowing when to adopt New or Upgraded Tech: Utilising a simple Cost vs Benefit assessment framework
  • Understanding performance: Key Metrics to track to understand your teams' and organisation’s health to move quickly with confidence

I will draw on real-world case studies to underline how these tools created internal strategic alignment and direction that resulted in setting these companies apart as leaders in technology and product innovation.

About Crystal Hirschorn

Crystal Hirschorn is VP Engineering, Global Strategy & Operations at Condé Nast which is best known for its portfolio of global brands Vogue, Wired, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker and many more. She oversees a globally distributed engineering organisation of more than 250 staff and leads the technical strategy for building unified technology platforms deployed across the globe to meet the demands of more than 450 million monthly users.

Over her 20 years career she spent more than 15 years as a hands-on software engineer tackling the challenges of building complex system architectures, high scalable software and infrastructures.

Breaking down silos with guilds, communities and chapters

David Buckhurst and Andy Smith

Engineering Manager at BBC

Software Engineering Team Lead at BBC

David Buckhurst and Andy Smith

For the last five years we’ve been running cross-team initiatives to break down silos and encourage collaboration. Variously known as guilds, communities of practice, or chapters … whatever you call them they can be extremely effective at helping eliminate duplication, establishing cross-team participation, and a useful training and knowledge dissemination tool.

For the last five years we’ve been running cross-team initiatives to break down silos and encourage collaboration. Variously known as guilds, communities of practice, or chapters … whatever you call them they can be extremely effective at helping eliminate duplication, establishing cross-team participation, and a useful training and knowledge dissemination tool.

However, these communities take a lot of effort to get right, are difficult to establish, and even harder to maintain momentum, especially cross-discipline. In this talk, we cover our journey with communities; the different types of problems we’ve tackled, models of engagement, successes and learnings; with practical tips on how to: - identify the right business challenges for a community - get the right engagement and set your communities up to succeed - measure success and communicate progress to nervous stakeholders Finally we’ll talk about what we’re doing next - tackling cross-site and remote challenges, and exploring communities outside of the BBC.

About David Buckhurst and Andy Smith

Andy Smith is a Software Engineering Team Lead at BBC, where he’s been working for over 5 years. He currently manages one of the engineering teams working on BBC iPlayer, but has also worked in several other teams during his time so far at BBC. Andy is passionate about accessibility, A/B testing and web app performance, but in this talk will be speaking about one of his other passions - ensuring teams are happy, productive and working together with other teams to improve knowledge sharing and remove duplicated efforts.

Twitter handle: @AndyMSUK

Twitter handle: DavidBuckhurst

Detectives, conjurers and priests: archetypes of the coders

Don Kelly

Production Engineering Manager

Shopify

Don Kelly

There exists a patchwork of attempts to understand career progression in our trade. The most realistic of these are the titles we are given within the halls of our workplaces. These tend to serve the organization first and the worker second. They are, fundamentally, a pathway through those organizations and define progress according to its needs. Titles like "Senior Software Developer", "SDE III", "Principal Architect" and "Staff Engineer" are of minimal and specific usefulness. They serve to define a set of responsibilities expected of coders in those roles at those organizations and give us no information about the true nature of the coder to which they are attached.

There exists a patchwork of attempts to understand career progression in our trade. The most realistic of these are the titles we are given within the halls of our workplaces. These tend to serve the organization first and the worker second. They are, fundamentally, a pathway through those organizations and define progress according to its needs. Titles like "Senior Software Developer", "SDE III", "Principal Architect" and "Staff Engineer" are of minimal and specific usefulness. They serve to define a set of responsibilities expected of coders in those roles at those organizations and give us no information about the true nature of the coder to which they are attached.

Outside the workplace, these labels are of minimal usefulness. We often attempt (and fail) to understand the nature and capabilities of a coder according to assumed understandings associated with these labels. Ultimately, this collapses under the weight of these assumptions. We really must be privy to the culture of the organization where they emerged to fully grasp their meaning.

As Leads, we are responsible for the construction of a working team and the development of its members. To be effective, we need to establish an understanding of each member's level of development and their potential future. Since we cannot rely on the titles that they have been given throughout their career, we need something else. This talk explores fictionalizations drawn from film noir, stage magic and monasticism to trace a coder's path over time. It provides a complete language of metaphorical archetypes to help us describe a coder and their potential.

About Don Kelly

Don first heard the siren call of the machine emanating from a TRS-80 sometime in the early '80s. His first caretaker was a venerable PDP-7 hidden in a remote coastal outpost. A veteran programmer of a wide variety of projects ranging from high-performance servers delicately handcrafted in C to creaky old desktop applications written in dead frameworks to squeaky-clean mobile applications written using the latest cool tools, Don has a strong interest in nurturing new apprentices into strong journeymen and creating software that astonishes at every level and withstands inspection long after the show has finished. Writing something that seems to work from a superficial inspection is simply not good enough. From the initial idea to finished product, each object and function should be a work of art.

From 4 to 2000 - scaling distributed culture all the way past IPO

Emanuil Tolev

Community Engineer

Elastic

Emanuil Tolev

Elastic started as a (distributed) team of 4 co-founders 8 years ago and is now almost 2 years after IPO with over 2000 employees, possibly one of the largest intentionally distributed teams in the world. This talk focusses on how we intentionally put this team together and the challenges that we faced on the way. Anecdotes and patterns about what held us together and allowed us to scale our culture across dozens of countries are distilled from interviews with long-serving engineering managers and employees. We'll also briefly share some daily challenges, tooling, the values that helped us get here and how these are communicated across the company.

Elastic started as a (distributed) team of 4 co-founders 8 years ago and is now almost 2 years after IPO with over 2000 employees, possibly one of the largest intentionally distributed teams in the world. This talk focusses on how we intentionally put this team together and the challenges that we faced on the way. Anecdotes and patterns about what held us together and allowed us to scale our culture across dozens of countries are distilled from interviews with long-serving engineering managers and employees. We'll also briefly share some daily challenges, tooling, the values that helped us get here and how these are communicated across the company.

We’ve treated our distributed nature as a boon to how we work, not just a problem to be dealt with. The practical results are pretty clear - working distributed is not a brake on business success but a strong amplifier.

About Emanuil Tolev

Emanuil is a Community Engineer with Elastic, the company behind the open-source Elastic Stack (Elasticsearch, APM, Kibana, Beats, and Logstash). He's based in London. He used to be a freelance web developer + ops lead and ran a small open science web dev consultancy with partners for several years. Interested in mentorship, inclusion, small businesses, archery and always curious about how the world works in detail.

Developing talent

Emma Burstow

.NET Developer

poweredbypie

Emma Burstow

Starting out as a developer can indeed be daunting, but what of those of us who have experience but still find ourselves learning? There are few industries where things move so quickly that we are often finding ourselves in the role of the learner as well as teacher.

Starting out as a developer can indeed be daunting, but what of those of us who have experience but still find ourselves learning? There are few industries where things move so quickly that we are often finding ourselves in the role of the learner as well as teacher.

In this talk, we will examine some of the ideas we take for granted, such as the myth that only natural talent can make a developer great at what they do. As someone who has worked as an educator as well as a developer, I aim to address some of the thinking that can hold us back in making the most of our talent and that of our teams and to provide insight into the ways we can make our teams more engaged, more productive and ultimately, happier.

We'll take a look at the research behind what motivates us to keep learning, the value of community engagement and what it means to promote a growth mindset in the workplace. Attendees from across a spectrum of roles will come away with ideas that they can implement the moment they are back in the office.

This talk aims to answer questions that even your most skilled developer won't know they need to ask.

About Emma Burstow

Emma is a .NET developer with 4 good years of experience in the .NET world. As a career-switcher who started her professional life as a high school teacher, Emma feels passionate about creating pathways for new talent and nurturing environments for newcomers. Based in Surrey in the UK, Emma is a mother of two brilliant people and spends much of her time outside of work writing about the tech world, attending techie meetups, reading murder mysteries and listening to very noisy music.

From product vs engineering to product engineering

Gergely Orosz and Ebi Atawodi

Engineering Manager at Uber

Group Product Manager at Uber

Gergely Orosz and Ebi Atawodi

Product and engineering often have separate reporting lines, separate meetings and a different view of the world. No wonder that engineering teams end up feeling they need to work “against” product, in getting the work done that they view critical: things like transitioning technologies, cleaning up tech debt or improving tooling. Meanwhile, the product can be just as frustrated with engineering, feeling they have no choice but to mandate deadlines, assign people to projects or deprioritize engineering-only work.

Product and engineering often have separate reporting lines, separate meetings and a different view of the world. No wonder that engineering teams end up feeling they need to work “against” product, in getting the work done that they view critical: things like transitioning technologies, cleaning up tech debt or improving tooling. Meanwhile, the product can be just as frustrated with engineering, feeling they have no choice but to mandate deadlines, assign people to projects or deprioritize engineering-only work.

Group product manager Ebi and engineering manager Gergely tells their story on how product and engineering evolved at Uber over years, in the middle of hypergrowth, going from the “versus” mindset to a productive and balanced relationship. A place where reporting lines are still separate, but product managers have 1:1s with engineers, engineers initiate and contribute to customer-facing projects and engineering managers cultivate and grow product-minded engineers.

You will walk away with tools you can apply in vastly improving your relationship with the product, as an engineering manager. We’ll also cover coaching techniques engineering and product leaders use to grow product-minded engineers, and the productivity, morale, and retention gains this approach results in.

About Gergely Orosz and Ebi Atawodi

Ebi Atawodi believes in building sustainable products and platforms that impact people’s lives beyond at least two generations. She is currently Group Product Manager leading the Uber Money product team based in Amsterdam focusing on global payments experiences across all Uber apps. Prior to this, Ebi started out with Uber as General Manager for Lagos in 2014 with a handful of cars on the road and grew to become Uber’s General Manager for West Africa running a top 20 EMEA region.

Before Uber, she held several roles from the Head of Corporate Communications and Sponsorships at Etisalat – where she created the Etisalat Prize for Literature – Africa’s most prestigious literary prize. She started the first half of her career as a full-stack engineer working for various global brands such as Nokia, Booz & Company (now Strategy&), GlaxoSmithKlein, Channel 4 and Bupa. She holds a Bachelors with Honours in Electrical Electronics Engineering from the University of Nottingham and a Masters in Computing Science from Imperial College London with a focus on Artificial Intelligence and Infographics. Ebi is a competitive Hobie Cat sailor and passionate scuba diver (PADI rescue diver).

Twitter handle: @EbiAtawodi

Gergely's bio details coming soon

Twitter handle: @GergelyOrosz

Transforming our internal products at the Financial Times

Laura Carvajal

Principal Engineer

The Financial Times

Laura Carvajal

Five years ago there was no Internal Products team at the Financial Times. Today, I can't imagine how we'd function without one.

Five years ago there was no Internal Products team at the Financial Times. Today, I can't imagine how we'd function without one.

I also can’t imagine working on anything more fulfilling.

Saying I work in Internal Products I often hear back "oh, like your finance systems, keeping those running, right?", and while we do have Finance and they need software to do their jobs, Internal Products is so much more than keeping the lights on.

It's also different from building systems like FT.com, the focus of our Customer Products team. Yes, our audiences are smaller, traffic is less, browser support is simpler, but what makes this work both exciting and humbling is the fact that your users typically use these tools all day long. Every day. So it's in your developer hands whether these people - your colleagues, your friends - feel their job is fulfilling and productive, or a 9-to-5 wrestling match with bad software.

In this talk I will take you through what we do in Internal Products at the Financial Times, how the team came to be, some of the mistakes we’ve made and learned from, and where we’re headed in 2020.

About Laura Carvajal

Laura has been a Software Engineer for 15 years and is currently a Principal Engineer at The Financial Times, leading Internal Products teams.

Finding your acorn: how to plant the seed that will grow to drive the change you want

Leila Powell

Lead Data Scientist

Panaseer

Leila Powell

Often the move to a lead role is about advocating for change – wanting to step up to take more ownership of challenges that arise and have a go at “doing better” for both your team and your organisation. This is magnified in startup land – often we join these for the opportunity to play a pivotal role in shaping an organisation.

Often the move to a lead role is about advocating for change – wanting to step up to take more ownership of challenges that arise and have a go at “doing better” for both your team and your organisation. This is magnified in startup land – often we join these for the opportunity to play a pivotal role in shaping an organisation.

However, the first flush of enthusiasm to instigate sweeping changes can be quashed when you realise that simply having a good idea and a lot of passion isn’t enough. Maybe you’ll be asked “why do we need to change this, it’s fine as it is?” Then there’s the challenge of who “owns” the processes you want to change (clue: usually several people with differing opinions). And finally, “inertia from apathy” – no one actively opposes your idea, but it just doesn’t catch on. Congratulations, you’ve come up against catch-22 of moving into leadership – you have a little bit of “power” but nowhere near enough to drive the sort of change you now aspire to. Worse still you now have better visibility and can see many other things that you think need fixing!

This talk is a story about maturing into a lead role within a growing startup. It’s about learning to maximise your influence without being overly constrained by whatever your remit is “on paper”. It’s about finding your voice. You’ll hear about attempts to influence (successes and failures) and how company growth can keep you on your toes as tactics that worked in your 5-person team are no longer effective at 50. Finally, you’ll learn about the approach that has been the most successful yet. This approach focuses on finding your acorn – that tiny idea for change that will grow when planted in the right place – and having the confidence and patience that eventually you’ll get to your oak!

About Leila Powell

Dr Leila Powell started out as an astrophysicist, using supercomputers to study the evolution of galaxies. Now she tackles more down-to-earth challenges! As the Lead Data Scientist at Panaseer, she helps information security functions in global organisations understand and reduce their cybersecurity risk exposure. She’s an advocate for diversity and inclusion in tech and co-created the WEDS (We Empower Diverse Startups) Network with other women in cyber tech startups to champion inclusive practices beyond her own team.

Engineering management, a.k.a. Olympic level context switching

Kathleen Vignos

Director, Software Engineering

Twitter

Kathleen Vignos

When it comes to engineering projects, we spend a lot of time trying to preserve maker time through limiting context switching. But in management, it's context switching all day, every day.

When it comes to engineering projects, we spend a lot of time trying to preserve maker time through limiting context switching. But in management, it's context switching all day, every day.

In this talk, we'll explore strategies for improving our ability to go from strategy sessions, 1:1s, planning meetings, interviews, steering committees, email, design docs, and more in that almost athletic back-to-back life of an engineering manager or director in a highly complex tech company environment.

About Kathleen Vignos

Kathleen Vignos is a Director in Platform Engineering at Twitter, where she heads Twitter’s public and private cloud infrastructure automation teams. She also leads Twitter’s internal engineering manager training program. Previously, she was Director of Engineering at Wired where she built the team that scaled the website to 1 billion page views a year. Over 20+ years she’s worked at two startups (one of which she founded), taught business software programming at the university level, won a hackathon, and developed dozens of websites. She regularly coaches engineering managers and female engineers on confidence and leadership. She serves on the Board of Directors for local San Francisco non-profit, New Door Ventures.

Don't cross the Rubicon

Manasi Kulkarni

Lead Software Consultant

Thoughtworks

Manasi Kulkarni

As a tech leader in Thoughtworks, a large part of our job involves recommending practices to our clients so they can build and deliver good quality software faster. In doing so many times for many clients I have created a toolkit that contains practical advice from being on the ground. This is what we do, we know it works.

As a tech leader in Thoughtworks, a large part of our job involves recommending practices to our clients so they can build and deliver good quality software faster. In doing so many times for many clients I have created a toolkit that contains practical advice from being on the ground. This is what we do, we know it works.

When Julius Caesar entered Rome with his army by crossing the river Rubicon, he did something that couldn’t be undone ever again. In your journey as a leader, avoid mistakes that are difficult to correct later. Here are a set of practices that you want to adopt as soon as possible.

About Manasi Kulkarni

Manasi considers herself a polyglot developer who has worked in many diverse domains and tech stacks. Manasi has built software for production systems through agile methodologies. She believes in building autonomous teams that have both a product focus and build high-quality production systems through automation for functional and cross-functional requirements. She has helped many clients build continuous delivery capabilities through automation and infrastructure as code. She is interested in tackling complex problems and strongly believes in enabling people and teams through technical leadership.

The story of why we migrate to gRPC and how we go about it

Matthias Grüter

Engineering Manager, Core Infrastructure, Spotify

Matthias Grüter

Migrating over 1000 services to gRPC poses interesting challenges, many of them are not only technical in nature: they boil down to questions of engineering culture and leadership at scale: How do you get 200 autonomous engineering teams to align on something as fundamental and cross-cutting as a new RPC framework? How do you roll-out gRPC at scale whit minimal disruption to both the organization and to the end-user?

Migrating over 1000 services to gRPC poses interesting challenges, many of them are not only technical in nature: they boil down to questions of engineering culture and leadership at scale: How do you get 200 autonomous engineering teams to align on something as fundamental and cross-cutting as a new RPC framework? How do you roll-out gRPC at scale whit minimal disruption to both the organization and to the end-user?

At Spotify, we have historically built services based on our own proprietary messaging protocol and framework. Last year we finally kicked off the daunting multi-year task of migrating everything to gRPC.

Migrating over 1000 services to gRPC poses interesting challenges, many of them are not only technical in nature: they boil down to questions of engineering culture and leadership at scale: How do you get 200 autonomous engineering teams to align on something as fundamental and cross-cutting as a new RPC framework? How do you roll-out gRPC at scale whit minimal disruption to both the organization and to the end-user?

This presentation will address these questions alongside more technical discussions of advanced gRPC concepts such as interceptors, deadlines, and effective schema management and how they are essential in large distributed systems.

About Matthias Grüter

Throughout his working life, Matthias has flip-flopped between leadership & engineering roles multiple times. Having worked along both tracks for many years gives Matthias a unique perspective on challenges that are either technical or organizational in nature. Matthias works as an engineering manager in Spotify's core infrastructure group. His team is driving the exciting process of transitioning Spotify's backend to cloud-native technologies such as Kubernetes and gRPC. As a manager by trade and engineer by heart, Matthias feels most comfortable in the intersection between leadership and technology.

Utilising invisible forces to make better decisions and influence software design

Murat Derya Ozen

Senior Software Engineer

Bloomberg L.P.

Murat Derya Ozen

Did you know your code is more likely to have defects when committed before lunch? Why do software estimates usually overrun? How do you decide if the business would be better off delighting 100 users or making 50 users less frustrated?

Did you know your code is more likely to have defects when committed before lunch? Why do software estimates usually overrun? How do you decide if the business would be better off delighting 100 users or making 50 users less frustrated?

We can answer all these questions by better understanding how people make decisions. Based on Nobel Prize psychologist and economist Daniel Kahneman's studies, this presentation will explore the invisible forces influencing our choices and present a systematic approach for better decision-making in the context of software design and engineering.

Whether in a technical or managerial role, we all have to make countless decisions as part of our day-to-day jobs. Some of these decisions are insignificant, while others can have a major impact. Ultimately, the success of the business – and our careers – heavily depends on the choices we make.

So how do we make better, more conscious decisions? In this talk, we will first explore how our brains make decisions in the face of uncertainty. We will then review common cognitive biases: invisible forces that trip us up through error and prejudice. For each common bias, we will examine real examples of software projects and provide you with practical steps to avoid these cognitive traps and make better decisions throughout your career.

About Murat Derya Ozen

Murat is a Senior Software Engineer who builds mobile applications at Bloomberg. He loves solving complex technology problems, while also designing and improving processes to accomplish this more efficiently. Murat has a passion for analysing and improving software development practices. He is convinced that this is only possible through continuous improvement and by making better decisions along the way. In addition to tech, he is an avid music enthusiast and life-long learner.

Developing emotionally intelligent teams in tech

Natalya Shelburne

Senior Software Engineer (Tech Lead)

The New York Times

Natalya Shelburne

The tech industry has a reputation for being a toxic monoculture that burns people out in record time, but it doesn’t have to be that way. At The New York Times, we have made great strides in diversity and inclusion, and last year I happened to lead a tech team of all women. It was amazing. What happens when everyone on your team has been expected to have high emotional intelligence and strong communication skills all of their lives? How does the expectation of advanced people skills shape team culture and dynamics? What is the impact on deadlines and project goals when we embrace a culture of collaboration?

The tech industry has a reputation for being a toxic monoculture that burns people out in record time, but it doesn’t have to be that way. At The New York Times, we have made great strides in diversity and inclusion, and last year I happened to lead a tech team of all women. It was amazing. What happens when everyone on your team has been expected to have high emotional intelligence and strong communication skills all of their lives? How does the expectation of advanced people skills shape team culture and dynamics? What is the impact on deadlines and project goals when we embrace a culture of collaboration?

The industry is changing and mentorship and communication skills are no longer optional for engineers. In this talk, I will share what happens when this invisible work is not only made visible, but is encouraged, rewarded, and celebrated. Far from hypothetical, this is a case study from my own team, and I will share practical tips on raising the bar and building a well rounded, high performing and resilient team that absolutely anyone can incorporate into their processes.

About Natalya Shelburne

Natalya Shelburne is a developer, designer, writer, educator, speaker, and artist. She is a senior software engineer at The New York Times and an occasional instructor at Harvard Extension School. Natalya holds bachelor's degrees in Studio Art and Psychology, and a master's in Creativity and Talent Development. Building collaboration between design and engineering is at the foundation of much of her work.

The race to Mach 2.0 at scale

Nick Means

Director of Engineering

GitHub

Nick Means

When Chuck Yeager became the first pilot to fly faster than the speed of sound, he set off a race around the world to do the same with a plane full of paying passengers. The United States, Russia, the UK, and France all wanted a piece of the inevitable fortune to be made building aircraft to cross oceans faster than sound itself.

When Chuck Yeager became the first pilot to fly faster than the speed of sound, he set off a race around the world to do the same with a plane full of paying passengers. The United States, Russia, the UK, and France all wanted a piece of the inevitable fortune to be made building aircraft to cross oceans faster than sound itself.

In the end, though, only one design ever flew passengers in significant numbers, the Anglo-French Concorde. Why? What set the work of British and French engineers apart from competing efforts and allowed them to succeed where other nations failed? Let’s see what we can learn about constraints and compromise from this remarkable story.

About Nick Means

Nickolas Means loves nothing more than a story of engineering triumph (except maybe a story of engineering disaster). When he's not stuck in a Wikipedia loop reading about plane crashes, he spends his days as a Senior Engineering Manager at GitHub. He works remotely from Austin, TX, and spends most of his spare time hanging out with his wife and kids, going for a run, or trying to brew the perfect cup of coffee.

Dimensions of high performance

Nik Knight

Head of Releases

JHC Financial

Nik Knight

How do you identify your high performing engineers? What differentiates them as high performing? How do you accurately describe what ‘high performing’ looks like, without resorting to long checklists that somehow still don’t quite cover it?

How do you identify your high performing engineers? What differentiates them as high performing? How do you accurately describe what ‘high performing’ looks like, without resorting to long checklists that somehow still don’t quite cover it?

As leaders and managers, it is vital that we articulate clearly and concisely what ‘high performing’ means, and what skills and behaviours our people need to develop and grow. If we fail to do this, we are failing to set them up for success - but how can we provide a consistent standard while still allowing for individual variation in strengths, interests, aptitudes, and so on?

In attempting to answer this question for my own organisation, I developed a flexible model that can be used as a basis for these all-important conversations - I would like to share this with you as a tool for maintaining fairness while recognising the unique mix of abilities in each person on your team.

About Nik Knight

Nik Knight has spent many of the past 20 years leading various tech teams, from First-Line Support, through multi-discipline Solution Delivery teams, to Release Engineering. This, coupled with a background in literature, philosophy and a stint in recruitment has led her to conclude that technology is all about solving "people" problems.

She also holds an EMCC Foundation Award in Coaching, and her greatest source of work-related joy is using coaching skills to help people and teams in tech achieve more than they think is possible.

She unwinds by applying the 'fail fast' principle to yoga, child-rearing and occasionally, karaoke.

Unintended Consequences: How tech is fuelling climate change and what we can do about it

Paul Johnston

Principal Strategist

Roundabout Labs

Paul Johnston

Climate Change will have a huge impact on the world and on business over the next 100 years, so why not look over a shorter and more useful timeframe of 10 years?

Climate Change will have a huge impact on the world and on business over the next 100 years, so why not look over a shorter and more useful timeframe of 10 years?

But there is another story, that tech has fuelled climate change in many ways, and is continuing to do so. It is a story that many in the tech world are unaware of, but on that needs to be told.

Over the past couple of years I’ve been researching the impact of the world of tech on Climate Change, and what is being done by some of the big tech companies to mitigate (or not!) their impacts on the world.

I will touch on positive and negative impacts, what individuals and companies can do, and also, what changes are likely to be coming up in the next 10 years both in terms of the impacts of Climate Change, and in terms of possible political movements and social changes that could make a difference for businesses and technologists.

About Paul Johnston

Paul Johnston is an advisor, interim CTO, CTO and strategist who has particular interests in serverless, cloud, startups and climate change. Formerly Senior Developer Advocate at AWS for Serverless and CTO of multiple startups including one of the world’s first serverless startups. He is also a climate change activist and Director of a community energy company.

An international keynote speaker he also tweets a lot at @PaulDJohnston and blogs a lot on Medium as well. He may be working in stealth mode on something (he usually is)…

Talk details coming soon

Paul Onakoya

Senior Engineering Manager, Studio UI

Netflix

Paul Onakoya

About Paul Onakoya

The difficult second album

Simon Young

Director of Software Engineering & Architecture, The LEGO Group

Simon Young

In 2019 the team behind LEGO.com delivered the engineering equivalent of the world-beating breakthrough debut album - moving in just over a year from an inflexible and monolithic on-premise commerce architecture to the brave new world of headless, serverless commerce running fully in the public cloud - with fantastic results for the LEGO Group.

In 2019 the team behind LEGO.com delivered the engineering equivalent of the world-beating breakthrough debut album - moving in just over a year from an inflexible and monolithic on-premise commerce architecture to the brave new world of headless, serverless commerce running fully in the public cloud - with fantastic results for the LEGO Group.

Now in 2020 we stand with the Difficult Second Album ahead of us. How do we beat - in fact how do we even match - the killer debut? How do we make sure our second opus is less like The Stone Roses’ ‘The Second Coming’ and more like Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’?

In this talk, Simon Young - Director of Software Engineering & Architecture at The LEGO Group - will take you through the key success factors of the LEGO.com engineering transformation to date, look at the challenges of running a serverless-based platform at scale and consider how to maintain that architectural flexibility as the serverless landscape continues to evolve and the product and the teams responsible for the product scale to meet ever-increasing expectations.

About Simon Young

Simon is an experienced software engineering leader and is currently Director of Software Engineering and Architecture at the LEGO Group where he is responsible for the engineering team behind LEGO.com.

False assumptions that marginalise users in the developing world

Sitati Kituyi

CTO

Pula

Sitati Kituyi

The fastest growing demographics on the web are in countries where the assumption that your user has an email address, credit card and postcode do not apply. Software tools and web services regularly exclude millions of potential users worldwide because they are designed around assumptions which do not hold everywhere.

The fastest growing demographics on the web are in countries where the assumption that your user has an email address, credit card and postcode do not apply. Software tools and web services regularly exclude millions of potential users worldwide because they are designed around assumptions which do not hold everywhere.

Success stories like WhatsApp show that an exclusive focus on these as your primary user base can set a startup apart in a competitive field.

Sitati will unpack some of these false assumptions, and discuss tools & approaches for a more inclusive internet.

About Sitati Kituyi

Sitati is CTO at Pula, former CTO at FrontlineSMS and co-founder of AfricanStockPhoto. After a few years studying and working in the UK, he has spent the majority of his career working as a tech lead in the 'silicon savannah' in his hometown Nairobi.

Taming a monster with Git driven data

Supriya Srivatsa

Software Engineer

Atlassian

Supriya Srivatsa

If you could relive history, would you change the future?

If you could relive history, would you change the future?

In this talk, we “relive the codebase” by tracing its evolution, exploring how changes over the years bend, break and fix quality and architecture; how history shapes future. We mine the huge, largely latent version control data and through the lens of everyday Git commits, explore successes, vulnerabilities and hotspots in the codebase. Join me to hear about how at Atlassian, we leveraged “git driven data” to tame our monolith, refactor the right way and minimise tech debt.

About Supriya Srivatsa

Engineer and international speaker, Supriya loves to “build stuff”, breathing life into ideas. Software engineer at Atlassian, she loves working with scale and is obsessed with writing code that reads like poetry. She loves tinkering with new technologies and is super fond of passionate, engaging tech discussions.

Giving away our legos - the art of delegation as technical leads

Yenny Cheung

Engineering Manager

Yelp

Yenny Cheung

Transitioning to technical leadership requires a shift of mindset, from a maker to a multiplier. But either as children or adults, “giving away our legos” is hard. When we delegate, we could hope that the team handles things perfectly, or we could also anticipate that they get completely dropped. In this talk, I will be going through a step-by-step guide on how to “trust, but verify” alongside battle-tested stories.

Transitioning to technical leadership requires a shift of mindset, from a maker to a multiplier. But either as children or adults, “giving away our legos” is hard. When we delegate, we could hope that the team handles things perfectly, or we could also anticipate that they get completely dropped. In this talk, I will be going through a step-by-step guide on how to “trust, but verify” alongside battle-tested stories.

I aim to help us navigate delegation and bring the team up in a low-stress way.

  • Carving out chunks of responsibilities: identify opportunities that our team members could take on and sponsor the best person for the task.
  • Setting expectations: strike an agreement with the team member on how “great work” looks like.
  • Coaching: ask the team member questions to help them come up with their own solutions to tackle the challenge.
  • Holding them accountable: give radically candid feedback on whether “great work” was achieved and have them take ownership of the result.

About Yenny Cheung

Originally from Hong Kong, Yenny is an engineering manager. She works on scaling advertising products to Yelp's biggest business owners. She recently transitioned into management and is still trying to figure out what this job is about. Yenny is a keynote speaker on engineering culture and public speaking. She recently spoke at EuroPython, the Grace Hopper Conference, and the European Women in Tech Conference.

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