Lead Dev London Conference 2019

Lead Dev London Conference 2019

In June, I was fortunate enough to attend the Lead Dev Conference in London's Barbican Centre. Lead Dev describes itself as "a series of conferences and meetups designed with the needs and pain points of technical team leads in mind." – which makes this my first conference since becoming a UI Lead to focus on the leadership rather than any specific technology.

The range of talks really interested me and covered areas I am keen to improve in, and fortunatly the conference more than delivered on these. I took plenty of notes and found lots of interesting insights to take away from these two days.

View of the empty stage before Lead Dev conference started
Inside the auditorium for Lead Dev 2019

Lead Dev have made videos of the talks available on their YouTube channel.

Here are just a few of the stand-out talks.

Lara's talk provides a range of techniques for understanding the needs of your team and how improve communication and feedback within your team.

Particularly relevant for me being relatively new into this role is the venn diagram highlighting the differences between product, engineering management and engineering leads within the team – and how they overlap.

Frameworks for developing developers – Melinda Seckington

In Melinda's talk, she discusses the frameworks she's put in place to "Grow our own software engineers". Using examples from games, this talk highlights lots of practical ways to help introduce new starters into an organisation and providing them with clear paths for learning new skills and progressing within the company.

Hiring diverse teams with an anonymous recruitment process – Bethan Vincent

How can we stop ourselves just hiring more people like ourselves, and instead diverse teams? Bethan summaries this into 5 key steps.

  1. People want to showcase "soft" skills alongside "technical" ones
  2. Jobseekers want a human connection (+ they want the lowdown on what it's really like to work with you) – felt inhuman
  3. Lengthy tests and at-home exercises are not inclusive
  4. Your job listing is just as important as the application process
  5. If we really care about diversity and inclusion, we need to listen

This is a shorter talk, but a really important one. I know that I'd like to improve our recruitment processes both to help make it as straightforward as possible but also to attract the best candidates no matter what their background. This isn't something that can just be done when assessing candidates – if our job description doesn't appeal or we don't put the advert in front of the right people then we won't attract the right applicants in the first place.

This was one of a selection of really interesting talks around inclusivity, particularly in the hiring process. I'd also recommend watching Inclusion starts with an I by Dora Militaru and Behind the scenes of an effective & inclusive hiring process by Ola Sitarska.

Eiffel's Tower – Nickolas Means

Described by the conference as storytime, this talk made for a great way to end day 1 of the conference. In this talk, Nickolas describes the story of how the Eiffel Tower in Paris was built. It's a fascinating story in it's own right, but details on the politics involved and how this overlaps in our professional lives proved really impactful.

Politics are usually seen as a hugely negative aspect of working lives that are a hinderance we need to cope with. Here, Nickolas manages to switch politics from something to avoid at all costs to instead being something to understand, manage and find opportunities from.

Business as usual: how to stop drowning and learn to swim – Jonathan Stott

Business as usual (BAU) work is a crucial part of maintaining an application but when there is a constant chase for the new and shiny it is easy for it to get overlooked. In Jonathan's talk, he discusses ways of managing this work and improving the overall health of the application and team.

Mobile development in 2019: native versus cross-platform – Miriam Busch

One interesting aspect of Lead Dev is that it mixes the talks focused on technical leadership with some shorter ones that go a bit closer into different areas of tech. Some of these covered areas I'm already very familiar with, whereas other's touched new areas for me that I'd like to learn more about. One of which, is Miriam's talk on the state of mobile development in 2019.

Miriam on stage at Lead Dev Conference 2019

My full, unedited, notes from the conference are on my Github.

Cover photo by Dimitry Anikin on Unsplash