YOW! CTO Summit 2016 Melbourne

Topics covered at #ctosummit

Wednesday, 30th November in Melbourne

12 experts spoke.

YOW! CTO Summit is about open dialogue and sharing successes and challenges with peers. The one day conference is packed with insightful talks containing the latest tricks, hacks and shortcuts that companies use to successfully build and run engineering teams.

Whether you're a team lead, engineering manager, VPE or CTO, you need to be at this full day, single track summit. Get the help you need from people who've been there and done that: your peers in the engineering management space. You can learn how to hire smarter, refine your culture, improve your processes, manage more effectively and adopt better engineering practices or architectures.

Only engineering leaders may attend - though we are not hung up on titles; CEO or VP Products etc are welcome. No recruiters, non-technical co-founders or other business stakeholders will be allowed - we strictly enforce this policy. Limited attendance means that it's easier to facilitate open dialog with peers and speakers.

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Career Growth with Impact

In small, fast moving companies, career development is often overlooked in favour of other things, such as building the product & growing revenue. As a leader in a small company, it is relatively easy to assess salary fairness, opportunities for growth are obvious, and it is easy to mentor within a close knit team. However as the company grows, supporting career development becomes harder, and movement in the employment market often leads to unintentional salary unfairness. Career ladders & salary bands are a well known way to introduce some level of structure to people’s roles, and their future growth. However ladders still contain ambiguity and bands don’t solve fairness issues.

At Redbubble we have been working on introducing an impact model for assessing contribution and a skills model for helping with personal career growth. We’ll give an overview of our experiences building and rolling out the model at scale, including the pitfalls, and also highlight how we use the model during hiring.

Tom Adams

Product Engineering Lead

Every Engineer Takes the Pager…

…and other stories from an ops-less world.

Three years ago 99designs transitioned away from having an ops team. Not “we now have a devops team”, not “we’ve switched to calling our sysadmins SREs”, but instead all operations work is done by regular web developers. The business has continued to grow, and contrary to expectations, the site is more reliable than ever.

The talk will be about how we made it work, why it works for us, and how it could (in whole or part) work for you.

John Barton


Don’t Just Build the Thing Right – Build the Right Thing

The goal of this talk is to provide technical and engineering leaders the tools necessary to move from product delivery into product strategy. The CTO role varies by organisation but it often requires the incumbent to own or direct the product vision and direction. For those who have come from a delivery background this can be a distinct change in mindset and approach. This talk draws on my experience through companies large and small to provide clear advice on how to make the leap.

The talk will cover my journey from a delivery lead through a number of years learning about product to my current role where I am responsible for technology and product. It will feature a number of different techniques that I have used including impact mapping, customer-led design, finding the metrics that matter (pirate metrics) and tracking a product portfolio board.

Andy Kelk


Tech Teams that Scale: How to Grow your People

This talk focuses on the people side of technology. The goal is to share practical advice on setting up and scaling technical teams for success: culture creation and guardianship, team equivalents of “code smells” to watch out for and do’s and don’ts. Rooted in real-life stories and lessons learned, this talk is based on experience of growing technical teams at Redbubble, Indiegogo, Yelp and VMware.

This talk is pertinent to anyone who wants to build a successful technology startup beyond the “garage” phase – because (a) all technology is built by people, who are the true source of success of any venture and (b) everything breaks at every order of magnitude of scaling your team.

Victor Kovalev


The CTO is Dead: Long Live the CTO

The role of the CTO is changing and the skills needed to succeed as a CTO are also changing. As technology continues to invade deeper into more and more organizations, technology savvy and expertise become increasingly important in the C-suite. In the past traditional organizations didn’t really have CTOs at the “big table” despite the “C” in their title. This situation is changing. This talk will describe the evolution of the role of the CTO as I have watched it both within my role at ThoughtWorks and with many of our clients.

Rebecca Parsons

Chief Technology Officer

Confessions of an Enterprise Architect

Having worked in and around the software development business for many years, gaining a certain amount of grey hair and experience along the way, I’m often asked to help out teams struggling under the sometimes onerous and dogmatic restrictions of corporate IT. Years of these engagements led to a sort of messianic complex; Me–righteous defender of software craft– locked in epic struggle with evil strictures of enterprise architecture. But lately the tables have turned. Faced with challenges of business reality, regulatory compliance, and organisational complexity, I found myself committing some of the same acts I might have once condemned. This talk gives me an opportunity to confess some of those behaviours, explain why they’re sometimes necessary in a large and complex corporate environment and offer some ways they might be done differently.

Scott Shaw

Head of Technology

What I Learned About Hiring when Looking for Work as a Software Development Team

As someone who has spent several years continuously iterating towards a more accurate and inclusive hiring process for software developers I thought I had a pretty good handle on how to hire well. After a mass redundancy my team and I decided to look for work together. We chose two of Melbourne’s best technology companies, went through their hiring processes and came out the other side with varied and contradictory results. Both companies have a sensible version of a best practises hiring process so how could the outcomes have been so different?

Here’s my take on why and how my thinking around hiring has changed because of it.

Adel Smee

Team Lead

Getting to Gender Parity Without the Awks

Most tech companies and companies in general have woken up to the benefits of embracing diversity in their populations, we have come to learn that this creates better products, more balanced decision making at the exec level and more empathetic cultures, but where do you start when your tech team is swayed in the wrong direction and too full of lads? Join Alex as she shares some stories about REA group’s journey towards gender balance in technology, and practical ideas for how to create tech team cultures that are welcoming and inclusive to women as we rapidly try and equal up the gender balance.

Alexandra Stokes

ReBoot Co.

A Common Vision is a Matter of Principle

This talk describes the strategy MYOB applied as it evolved its delivery group from independent application teams to a group which today builds towards one services platform that delivers a consistent experience for multiple products and brands. Using a strategy of applying a common vision, a set of principles and a set of practices, MYOB changed the focus of a 30+ team group to build towards a common platform goal.

This talk gives background to the approach and details the vision, practices, and principles which have been applied to achieve the change in focus.

John Sullivan

A Java programmer since 1996, I’ve fallen in love with Scala over the last two to three years. I’m extremely fortunate to work more or less full time in Scala at my current position at The Broad Institute. Interests include software engineering, agil

Democratic Product Management: How To Get Innovation Out of Everyone in your Company

Since its beginnings, our vision for YourGrocer was to create a company where the founders didn’t have the final say on everything, and where anyone could take an idea forward to shape our product. We have iterated through many models, but one thing hasn’t changed. All the company votes every two weeks to decide our short term roadmap

I will talk about the process that we use and the benefits and challenges of the model. Attendees will be able to understand how it practically works and how it enables every one in the company to behave like a product owner and be innovative on the areas they work on.

I will not only describe the current model, but the journey and iterations of it that led us to where we are now. That means attendees will also have an understanding of the challenges and roadblocks we have faced in the past, and the trade offs we had to accept in order to establish this process.

Francisco Trindade

Francisco works as consultant at ThoughtWorks UK in London. He has many years of experience in software development, always working with agile methodologies. Francisco graduated in Computer Engineering and holds a masters degree in Human Computer

The Anatomy of Continuous Deployment at Scale

Envato runs one of the world’s highest traffic websites, themeforest.net, which is 1 of the 8 sites served by a 2-sided e-commerce platform called Envato Market. Our engineering team juggles serving around 30,000 requests per minute whilst automatically deploying changes once every 30 minutes across a team of 50 developers that contribute to the one codebase. This talk gives the audience a view inside the team’s practices, tooling and culture that allows us to achieve this and maintain high availability.

John Viner

Senior Director of Engineering

Conversational UI: Past, Present and Future

Recent developments in natural language processing have lead to a proliferation of new ways to interact with systems using chatbots. These developments present new opportunities for product design, and bring a powerful form human-computer interaction to a massive new audience. Product design can now include a variety of new ways of interacting with users, and the history of text-based interfaces can inform the design thinking as we navigate these uncharted waters. Finally, this presentation looks to the future where further developments in speech recognition will make current capabilities look hopelessly primitive and may take human-computer interaction to a whole new level of intimacy.

Simon Wade

Team Lead


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