Personal Notes on Velocity EU 2014


I was at Velocity EU last week, and while I wrote more general recaps of the first and second day at the conference over at the vaamo codecraft blog, I want to capture my rather personal experience here.

Conference Program

I found it very interesting, that the room of the Culture & Organizational Change was always packed and some people had to stand.

The atmosphere was really great, friendly and open. For me, the Office Hours were a new but awesome concept. Not only do they provide the chance to ask questions about the sessions, but they also significantly lower the barrier to interact with the speakers.

Somehow naturally for a conference run by a publishing house, there was a lot of things going on about books. The best of that being the Book Signings, where you not only get an author signed book for free, but also get to speak to the authors a bit.
Naturally, I had to use the chance to talk to John Allspaw whose writing and ideas are such a great inspiration to me for quite some time now (you read "On Being a Senior Engineer", right? Right?). While speaking to him I felt like a silly teenager. Which of course is silly in itself.
And it was also great to shortly talk to Lara Hogan at her signing. Her Donut Strategy gave me a very tangible inspiration on how to celebrate the smaller and bigger successes of our team at vaamo.

The People Track

Although I traveled to the conference alone I was very fortunate to meet some people again, which I knew already, and also meet some new people. Regardless of if I just met them there or knew them already, everybody I talked to over those days was super-interesting and overall I had more great discussion than I can count.
Nevertheless, the highlights definitely were ...

  • Patrick whom I got introduced to by my SoCraTes buddy Christoph. Besides having loads of fun talking to him, he as a Barcelona local basically was my guide and really gave me all the tips necessary to have great local food and coffee. He's the organizer of Barcelona.js and Mediteranea.js, a conference on Javascript in Barcelona in 2015, that you should keep an eye on.
  • Adam, whom I had the pleasure to talk to during his Office Hours during the conference. It started as a greate exchange between engineering managers and lead to a great evening of Paella and more (sometimes even german) talking.
  • Corrina who is another SoCraTes buddy and her husband Tobias. It was really great to spend an evening full of Tapas with them and some of their buddies.

Engineering Management

In my recap of day 2 I wrote, that Velocity is THE conference for web operations and engineering management. And as the latter topic is currently keeping me busy and for quite some time now, I hoped to take away some new insights and/or confirmations for how I approach the work.

And it worked. In large parts by speaking to Adam and also some others, I got confirmation for my approaches. Or rather I got confirmed again, that everybody is struggling. Maybe with different things at different times, but overall nothing is perfect. The whole, let's call it "new way of engineering management" as it's emerging right now is, well, new and so everybody is finding it's way around.
Which then again makes it even more awesome to talk to likeminded people, exchange ideas and experiences at conferences like Velocity.

The Pledge

Part inspired by Pamela Fox' talk on "Lowering the Barriers to programming" and part myself, I made a pledge after the conference.

On the way back from Barcelona I stumbled across Primo and pledged (to myself, and you, the reader) to build a primo set and use it with my kids, and if it works with them, give one to our local kindergarten.

TL;DR

I enjoyed the conference and the time in Barcelona immensely. I'll definitely try to attend it again next year, where it's gonna be held in Amsterdam.

At this place I also want to thank my wife. Besides my employer, who payed for the conference and all, my wife made it possible for me to go to Velocity. Thank you! I love you!

Hire me!