- Dan DiGangi
This past week (Oct. 2023) I attended LeadDev West Coast conference. It's focused on engineering leadership and management which was too hard to pass up. You won't find many conferences with these topics presented. There's a lengthier post describing my experience but I'll share some photos and a brief overview for now until it's done.
The production, speakers, diversity, and overall experience was excellent. I'd rate it A to S-tier easily. It was an interesting perspective comparing to our conference React Loop. What I could see was the clear differences of what we could achieve at the next level. I'll be stealing some of their great ideas for sure. 💯
A few things worth calling out now:
- Inclusivity/Flexibility: It's a two day single track but there was no rigid "you have to do this or this". Attend and experience as you'd like. Simple things like badge stickers to denote your pronouns and comfort with touch/proximity further promoted inclusivity. The touch sticker was even 3 different shapes for accessibility supporting someone that may have visual impairments. A remote stenographer was hired to provide live captioning.
- Speakers/Sponsors/Alignment: The presented topics offered great value overall. Some speakers presented different lenss reframing how you might approach something you've done a million times. Significant focus was found around observability, efficiency, and functioning effectively with less budget and people. We're all facing "fun" economic waves right now and both sponsors and speakers aligned there. Low pressure from sponsors presenting their products is always appreciated.
- Connections/Breaks: You wouldn't believe how important taking breaks are for staying engaged vs burning out. Getting locked into a room 9-5 for talks doesn't bring nearly as much value. When you have time to recharge, connect with others, talk with speakers, and get some caffeine the experience goes up significantly. Breaks could be anywhere from 20-90 minutes.
- Shared Passions: Related to connections above I was so happy to have actual conversations with other leaders that share significant interest in the same passions. I do love tech but user experience and leadership top the list. Some of us enjoyed healthy debate on our approaches.
- Activities: Outside of the talks there was free speed coaching from Lena Reinhard (she's amazing!), Ines our lively MC secretly had us doing the Thriller dance, the DevInterrupted podcast from LinearB was recorded live in a dome which resembled an igloo, and each speaker was available after their talk. In classic fashion I barraged them with compliments and about 387 questions. Thanks for putting up with me!
- Swag: Swag is always found at these types of events but there was reports, guides, and even an early bird release of a book from Swarmia. Great job Rebecca and Otto. Extremely valuable and not pushes to buy their products. Supporting material of the problems each of these types of companies are actively solving. This is kind of swag I look for more than a pen or shirt. Sourcegraph did give out Tide pens though which is one of the best things ever.
Additional shoutouts to Jem Young and Ryan Burgess from Netflix. Wouldn't have made it there without Jem and Ryan, as always, has been one of the best mentors I've ever had. Navigating the market after a layoff is tough but between the conference and his coaching I'm feeling good about my future.
Hopefully the above gives you a small idea of what LeadDev provided. Photos added below! Some weird angles but I made sure to find a better spot as the days went on. The agenda is here if you want to see who is who.
Warning - Disproportionate amount of photos for some speakers than others for no reason in particular