20 March 2018 - GitHub has a community too

I've been a user of GitHub for more than 2 years now. My team was firmly planted in this world and used it for day to day management, using Zenhub in addition to make pretty our tasks into an easy readable Kanban format. Another team member pushed her metadata changes into GitHub to save her work from the Provar testing tool, connected to Salesforce. We would also use the Wiki to add any 'ways of working' documents or project related items. It was our central hub and a really effective tool to oversee work.

What I didn't know was that GitHub also has a community, a bit like Salesforce, all be it on a smaller scale, and I was invited to attend their recent Constellation day/evening. I couldn't make the day time sessions but booked in for the evening and decided to take a leap to expand on my community horizon.

So here's some differences that I noticed about the event compared to the one's I'm used to...
Firstly the location. It was held in a night club in Southwark. The feel was rather 'urban' with lots of dark spaces, concrete floors, spot lights to highlight the Constellation promotion banners and only a few seats to perch on. At least it had a proper bar with fully functioning staff and wine at the ready. 

Next was the attendees. Its probably not a shock for you to discover that I was in the minority. I used my never fail trick when alone at a gathering and hunted out a fellow female and started chatting. She was with colleagues and friends and invited me to join them and we had a good chat about diversity in general and how are companies trying to make a positive change.

One of the group was a speaker for the night and employee of GitHub, Keith Cirkel. He mentioned how Github themselves are very proactive at trying to break these barriers and actually have, as part of their 7 stage interview process, a session to ask each candidate on how they feel about matters relating to diversity. Essentially, if you don't have an inclusive mindset then you won't fit. While GitHub's process may seem a bit meaty I do admire their stance. 

We were then invited into the main conference space, another room of the club, but this time set up with chairs and big screen, ready for the content. A jam packed night with 5 speakers lay ahead. 

Eleanor Harding, Product Manager at Twitter kicked us off with an insight into how Twitter tackles product changes using a view of 'one billion, one hundred, and one. Its the concept that you build something, or make a change that a mass of people will use instinctively as if that functionality was always there. Its about making a change and thinking of everyone and making it special for the individual too. She also made note that if an engineer has empathy then they can build better solutions.

Next up came came Edward Thomson a Programme Manager at Microsoft talking on how his company has 'embraced' newer technologies to make them a more efficient business and even sighting some great quotes from current/past leaders. Its a wonder he's still got a job with them, but a thoroughly entertaining talk. 

Third up was Debs Durojaiye. It was her first time as a speaker and she talked about the importance of businesses providing space and a culture that encourages everyone to feel they have the same chance at success by highlighting diversity and inclusion spaces.

Heidy Khlaaf, a newly awarded PHD from Adelard LLP spoke about how finding bugs through testing the software for critical systems is something we should all care about, especially when it comes to dealing with a Nuclear Power Plant and how you should still worry when something works when the test says it shouldn't...

Last on the line up was GitHub's very own, Keith Cirkel who spoke about how GitHub looks for a cross discipline skill set for their application engineers, with breadth across lots of areas and depth on one. He also stated that for general communications, email is a place where conversations go to die and Slack is a better alternative for quick, relevant responses. 

Content over, it was back into the main club space for cake, swag (a Constellation pin) and more beer/wine and a bit of networking to close off the night. 

In all, a good event with a interesting mix of speakers. I think its a positive thing to expand your network and see how others are working in a similar space. We are using the same tools, may even share the same work attitudes, maybe we should reach out more to each other?


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