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Track 1: Talks & interactive panels

We brought you a fantastic program of talks and panel discussions to help you grow as a technical leader. Recordings of all sessions are now available to watch here.

Hosted by: Meri Williams
Featuring: Jean Michel Lemieux, Claudius Mbemba, Elaine Zhou

Creating a happy, high-performing engineering team is the goal of any CTO. But whether it’s a dramatic scale-up, an organisational pivot, a time of financial hardship, or even a pandemic; there will always be circumstances that can lead to internal disruption. So how can senior engineering leaders manage these scenarios?

In this panel, we’ll discuss how senior leaders can build solid engineering organisations in times of change. We’ll discuss which considerations need to be made when thinking about stability, how to decide upon and communicate decisions, and how to create a psychologically safe environment for your engineering teams.

Adrienne Lowe • Senior Engineering Manager • ActiveCampaign

In this talk, we’ll explain what makes a good process and think about how you build processes, how you define them, and importantly why you need them. We’ll also think about how to make sure that inclusion is built early into the creation of a process.

Arquay Harris • Senior Director of Engineering, Expansion • Slack

If you ever find yourself staring at a screen not knowing how to even start an important presentation this session is for you! In this talk I underscore the importance of storytelling in public speaking. It’s filled with tips on how to craft a narrative and get your point across in a way that feels natural for you.

Hosted by: Katie Wilde
Featuring: Dana Lawson, Asanka Jayasuriya, Farhan Thawar, Wambui Kinya

Although the proliferation of remote work has increased rapidly over the last nine months, the benefits of embracing distribution have been known for much longer. But as organisations scale, communication in remote settings becomes more complex. So how can we do this effectively in remote orgs?

In this panel, we’ll discuss effective remote communication strategies for organizations. We’ll consider how to communicate (and make!) decisions remotely, strategies for effective synchronous and asynchronous collaboration, and how to communicate one-to-one and one-to-many. We’ll also consider what you’ll need to have in place to make all of this successful.

Kevin Goldsmith • CTO • Anaconda

Presenting to executives at your company is different than giving a presentation to your team, other teams, at a meetup, a conference, or customers. When asked to present to a group of senior leaders from your company, you need to structure your presentation differently, prepare differently, and communicate differently than when speaking to other audiences.

Positive exposure with senior leaders in an organization is valuable for career advancement. It is an excellent opportunity.

This talk presents some concrete strategies for planning your presentation, preparing the attendees, handling unexpected questions, going down rabbit holes, driving the attendees to a decision (if that is your goal), and following up afterward.

Daniel Burke • Senior Engineering Manager, Square

What you do when building an MVP with two people is drastically different from what you do in a 700-person software engineering org?

In this talk I'll walk you through several stories and tips I've encountered while helping scale teams from 0 to 5 and 5 to n within both small and large organizations. You'll hear several approaches to evaluating and adopting appropriate software and design patterns, evaluating and adopting various development processes, and most importantly how to help your people grow as your team grows.

Hosted by: Anna Shipman
Featuring: Randy Shoup, Papanii Nene Okai, Nimisha Asthagiri, Anand Mariappan

If you’re working at a technical organisation you’re certain to have a technical strategy - but thinking now, could you describe or articulate what yours was? Having a defined tech strategy creates alignment and keeps everyone on the same page, creating a more unified strategy. So how do you build a tech strategy.

In this panel, we’ll discuss how to build an effective tech strategy thinking about: what a good technology strategy looks like, how to create a strategy, how to communicate and articulate your creation, and how to adapt it as times change.

Duana Stanley • Software Engineer, CashApp

In an event-driven, (micro-)services based architecture, we imagine a bunch of services with a single responsibility interacting with each other by emitting and reacting to domain events. Sounds nice! Here are some of the decisions we need to make to get there: When do we use API calls vs events for interactions? Do we need to build up local replicas from events when we need data from other services? How do we design events? When do we use event sourcing? In this lightning talk we'll tour through these questions and principles that can help you answer them.

Gabriela Dombrowski • Application Developer, Crema

We often find ourselves in situations where we have knowledge to share and mentor others, but we often don't take the time to learn _how_ to be better mentors.

So are we doing it right?

Through my work as Mentor Director for a monthly coding class, I've been able to compile effective methods through research and experience that will help all developers be better mentors, whether within an established mentor/mentee relationship or quick day-to-day teaching opportunities. By being thoughtful and deliberate in mentoring moments, even sometimes in counterintuitive ways, we can all be a part of creating richer tech communities that foster inclusivity and thrive on collective growth.

Hosted by: Sarah Milstein
Featuring: Rukmini Reddy, Nick Rockwell, Bruce Wang, Ellen Wong

As you progress in seniority as a leader, your scope of influence increases alongside you. But as your relative organisational power increases so does the way in which it effects people. As such, the ways in which leaders wield their influence must change.

In this session we’ll explore ways to influence without exerting authority, providing structures and frameworks that can be applied to multiple situations. We’ll be considering how to clarify and communicate your position, all while taking the needs of your teammates and colleagues into account. We’ll also discuss how to navigate some tricky situations that may occur and times when the direction you are influencing in might prove unpopular.

David Yee • Executive Director, Engagement Mission • The New York Times

As leaders, we talk often about offering good feedback and direction, but we often fail at its deceptively difficult counterpart—the craft of listening. How can you better understand the underpinnings and science of a listening practice applied specifically to difficult situations—in which you have little opportunity to control the context—and build better skills for comprehensive, empathetic listening?

In this session, we will discuss tactics for supporting safe and open one-on-one spaces for listening and understanding constructively.

Julia Feraraoli • Open Source Technical Program Manager, Google

We don't like to think about pain; even pain by proxy is uncomfortable. Generally, people dealing with chronic pain and chronic illness are shamed into silence for making people uncomfortable simply by existing. The tech industry does not escape this attitude, despite our focus on wellness tools, apps, and the desperate desire to code away vulnerability.

As an industry whose decisions affect thousands to millions of people, we need to start building compassion into our products, our workplaces, ourselves. Let's get uncomfortable. Let's talk about pain.

Hosted by: Meri Williams
Featuring: Eileen Burbidge, Leila Zegna, Ezechi Britton

Whether you’re working at a startup or scale-up or other Venture Capital-backed business now, you’ve likely either considered it before, might consider it in future, and you’ve certainly read about technology & engineering at other VC-backed organisations like Spotify, Google, Stitchfix and more.

We’ve assembled an illustrious & distinguished group of VCs for a panel discussing what we as engineering leaders need to know about how venture capital works, and what VCs most want to see from us as leaders in technology.