Speaker spotlight: automated development with Jessica Rose

How can we create better processes for talent in technology?
This is such a fantastic question, but an incredibly challenging one. At the moment I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about how we hire, retain and promote talent. We’re doing most of these wrong. There’s a disproportionate amount of energy being put into hiring, with little to no energy being placed into supporting talent we’ve already hired and promoting them into positions that suit their talents and potential. I would love to see more data and critical thought being placed into our hiring processes as well as into supporting existing talent. There are some people and projects doing great things in this space right now. I like GapJumpers for blind hiring screening and CultureAmp for internal company culture analytics for really jumping into these spaces with interesting solutions.

Which mentorship and teaching programs (online or offline), apart from the Open Code study meetups that you founded, would you recommend?
There are so many great ones! For beginners just trying out code for the first time I love FreeCodeCamp and Codecademy as free online tutorials anyone can pick up. Communities like CodeNewbies offer an incredible amount of peer support for folks learning on- and offline. For in-person support I love the Open Tech School and CodeBar. This is only a short list of some of my best loved orgs, there are so many out there to help you get started.

What’s the single biggest obstacle to better diversity in tech right now?
Apathy amongst those not working to fix the problem and burnout for those actively working for more inclusive spaces. The funds and attention that well resourced companies and orgs are spending on diversity in tech also often seem to be focused on awareness raising or initiatives that don’t directly impact the ability of underrepresented to access or succeed in technology. I’m afraid picking a single biggest problem from amongst these might be a bit of a challenge!

Jessica Rose recommends GapJumpers, which offers blind auditions to hire technology and design talent

You’re managing a remote team at Crate.io. How do you do that?
I’m really lucky in this contract, as I’m not a manager this time around! I’m happily working in a remote team after having managed teams for some time. As a manager I relied heavily on frequent short 1:1s, whole-team visible communication tools like IRC and Slack channels and a genuine interest in how the members of my team were getting along. Luckily at Crate I get to enjoy a similar approach as a team member, letting other folks do the management heavy lifting this time!

How can teams communicate better with each other in large organisations?
One of the largest challenges is making conversations and projects more visible across the org without discouraging small, ad-hoc conversations. Encouraging teams to regularly keep notes on their thoughts as well as their progress and encouraging transparency and collaboration across teams through tasks and projects that intersect can be a fantastic way of beginning to grow better communication culture.

What can people expect to take away from your talk at Pixel Pioneers?
I hope that the audience will leave with some of my excitement about how automation is helping to make development more accessible across mixed skill levels and teams with fewer resources. We’ll also be looking at some popular off the shelf tooling to automate the parts of your development processes you could live without, to help you better focus on the parts of your work that really need your attention.

Which tools do you use yourself to automate tasks and processes?
I love using IFTTT and Zapier to connect and automate different personal and professional services but admit that most of my automation in my day to day life is made up of increasingly messy little in-house scripts.

How can you beat impostor syndrome?
There’s really no way to fully eliminate it, the best you can do is recognise that impostor syndrome is something that happens to (almost) everyone and be ready to jump on rising feelings of insecurity when they start to feel overwhelming. I like to frame impostor syndrome as a buggy, unhelpful message from your brain that you’re in an environment that is filled with challenges and room for you to learn.

What’s made you move from the US to Birmingham, and how do British developers differ from the US devs if at all?
I met a lovely Brummie boy when living in Japan long, long ago and married him, making the move to the UK part of our life together. I find that developers in the UK have a lot in common with developers across Europe and smaller tech hubs in the US. There’s so much diversity of thought, of interests and of personality across developers in the UK and these other markets, that it’s hard to compare them to anyone as a single block, unless we’re comparing them to the frenzied markets of SF/SV/NY. Compared to developers in these higher volume cities, British developers seem wonderfully laid back!

What advice do you have for anyone who wants to move up in their career?
Almost everyone I speak to waits too long to try to take the next step. Try to do that thing right now. Don’t get more experience. Don’t do more networking. Put yourself out there for what you really want to be doing right now. If you’re not ready (and sometimes even if you are) you’ll get feedback on what you need to do next. If folks do take you on board for that great new job, the promotion, the graduate degree or that round of funding, you’re getting the message that you’re ready now. Try to do what you want to be doing, make other people tell you if you’re not ready.

Jessica will talk about "automating access to development" at the inaugural Pixel Pioneers conference in Bristol on 22 June.  Get your ticket for just £125 including VAT now. There is also a student discount (30% off), and a group discount if you come as a team of five or more (£15 off per ticket). Drop us a line for details.