YOW! CTO Summit 2017 Melbourne

Topics covered at #ctosummit

Wednesday, 29th 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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(Other) Lessons from Primary School

It feels like every week there's a new report about the lack of diversity in tech companies or a new organisation working on how to make the industry more diverse.

A report from the University of Sydney shows the future of tech companies may face the same lack of talent and diverse talent as students studying Maths & Science in NSW HSC has declined. The number of students not taking any Maths or Science has increased - from 2.1% (male) and 5.4% (female) in 2001 to 5.9% (male) and 14.6% (female) in 2014.

Diversity brings different perspectives to teams. From our collective experiences we have observed that teams’ gender imbalances constrain them from being as great as they can be. Without balance and diversity, an organisation’s culture and problem solving abilities suffer and are less likely to build and deliver great outcomes.

So even though women make up more than 50% of our population, why are they are so under-represented in the technology industry?

Based on learnings from a local primary school, this talk aims to equip you with the ‘whys’ and ‘whats’ of this challenge and demonstrate how you and your organisation can work to address it. The content of the talk is based on a combination of research and real-life case studies aiming to provide you with take-aways to action as soon as you get back to your desk.

Talk Title Credit: Ben Ryan

Paula Burton (Ngov)


Two in the Box: Leadership and the Art of Delivering Customer Value Fast

Every business today is being disrupted by how fast things are changing.

Product teams need to continually review and improve their delivery processes, just to compete. But where do you start?

For MYOB, it was in the alignment of its Product and Delivery leadership teams.

The result?

MYOB is now better placed to meet their strategic goals, deliver continual improvement and value to their ever-growing client base.

This talk presents MYOB's approach, how they did it and how my role as a Technical Leader has shifted.

Don’t miss your chance to gain an insight into how one of Australia’s most innovative companies works.

Alexandre Barreto

Head of Delivery

Security and the CTO

Aaron Bedra will talk on some of the security issues that all CTOs need to be aware of.

Aaron Bedra

Aaron Bedra has served as a Chief Security Officer, Chief Technology Officer, Chief Scientist and Principal Engineer/Architect. He currently works at the intersection of trading + technology as a senior software engineer at DRW.

Aaron has worked professionally on programming languages, most notably Clojure and ClojureScript. He is the creator of Repsheet, an open source threat intelligence toolkit; is the co-author of Programming Clojure, 2nd and 3rd Edition and a contributor to Functional Programming: A PragPub Anthology.

Aaron blogs about software and security at aaronbedra.com

Hacking Digital Leadership – Insights on How to Achieve Success from 40 Digital Leaders

Making the shift from technologist to successful leader is challenging. The transition causes anxiety for most of us as we fear being seen as incompetent. The shift has us move from a world of well-defined problems to one that is grey, ambiguous and often has long feedback loops.

This presentation will share the insights of the 40 digital leaders interviewed (with a combined experience of over 400 years in tech) on how they became leaders and what it takes to be a successful Digital Leader.

Learn how to transition from technology to people, balance tactical and strategic operation and the 5 key recommendations of the Digital Leaders Career Success pyramid.

James Brett

Curiously Pty Ltd

Cross-Organisation, Cross-Culture, Successful Delivery: Lessons in Delivery from REA’s Integration with NAB

In 2017 the REA Group inked a deal with the National Australia Bank to partner on providing home loans to the millions of Australians who spend time on realestate.com.au looking for property and lifestyle information.

From Day 1 it was recognised that Australian business history is littered with the carcasses of failed mergers between our biggest institutions and organisations that represent the new digital economy, and that this REA-NAB partnership would require something special from an engineering, culture and governance perspective.

It only took 8 months for the moment of truth to arrive - an engineering riddle , wrapped in a cultural mystery, inside a governance enigma. The team that came together had to find a new path, a third way of solving the technical roadblocks that had arisen through complex system architectures and data integration necessary to satisfy our customer's needs.

Six key lessons were drawn from the August 2017 moment of truth for the two engineering organisations, that should provide inspiration to others planning partnerships of this scale in future.

Jeremy Burton

Engineering Manager
REA Group

Data Driven Culture - Leadership & Growing People

Company Culture and Employee Engagement aren't just popular buzzwords - really understanding what makes your teams tick can lead to a significant difference in company performance, profitability, customer satisfaction. At Agile Australia in 2016 I presented a Culture Manifesto derived from data from over 100,000 survey responses from engagement and exit surveys at more than 150 companies, many of them in the New Tech space, and explained why factors such as effective company leadership, and learning and development, can have a real impact on improving engagement and reducing turnover.

In this talk I will dig in to the topics of leadership and growing people, with updated insights from more recent data, and explain some of the differences we see in groups such as engineering teams, and at different stages of company growth. I will present stories from our own company and other case studies, where people have taken action and the differences we see.

You will appreciate the importance of effective leadership and developing people and how it contributes to engagement; gain insights into the drivers of engagement and turnover; and also hear about the things that we expect would make a difference, but the data proves us wrong!

Jo Cranford

Director of Engineering
Culture Amp

Monolith to Micro-Services? Event Sourcing Can Help

As Culture Amp's product group grew (now 70 people) it became increasingly obvious that having a single monolith and single codebase was slowing us down, and creating single points of failure. This talk will cover how we embraced event sourcing as an architectural pattern to help us refactor the monolith - helping us to identify the boundaries of context - in preparation for identifying and harvesting appropriately scoped micro-services.

The rigid conventions of how aggregates can communicate forces you to think deeply about what your Aggregates are, what Commands they should accept and what Events they should emit. Enforcing that Aggregates cannot access the internal data of any other aggregates (of the same type or otherwise) forces you to think in terms of high cohesion / low coupling, and, when necessary, accessing projections - and by inference accessing an external representation of another context.

The standard architectural patterns for CQRS and event sourcing introduce an eventual consistency problem that needs to be understood and designed for - particularly in the UI. However, if you're migrating a monolith much of your UI was likely build assuming the page loads only occur after the database and views are updated. One of the advantages of starting event sourcing just within your monolith is that you can force the projections to be updated before returning success to a command. This has obvious down sides - namely impacting performance, stability, separation of concerns, and scalability, however as a stepping stone towards introducing event sourcing it's a fantastic way to allow you to focus on the Command side of CQRS initially without having to make any UI changes.

Douglas English

Founder and VP of Engineering
Culture Amp

Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall

You’re probably familiar with Conway’s Law, that “organizations which design systems ... are constrained to produce designs which are copies of the communication structures of these organizations." But did you know that there’s a tradition in academia spanning as far back as the 1960’s that has studied it in action?

Our understanding began in the traditions of organisational design, product design, and organisations-as-complex-systems. Conway’s Law is a separate tradition in technology, embracing our idioms and ways of storytelling.

But all three traditions point back to the same underlying concepts.

Conway’s Law has been studied across auto, aviation, software, banking, and healthcare. Each study has revealed how humans organise to build systems, and how those systems influence how we organise ourselves.

The results are not what you’d expect.

Lindsay Holmwood

Dev Team Lead

Getting Started at a Startup!

Start ups have some interesting challenges and conversely some exciting opportunities.

  • They have a limited runway of cash – this drives an intense focus on delivering value (before the money runs out)
  • They have no existing culture or processes – there is nothing to undo as they create a new culture
  • There is no existing code to build upon - there’s no legacy code to deal with, and you produce applications that match what you need to do
  • There is no set of commonly understood processes – you get to adopt whatever works well and that fits your needs.

This case study talks about the last 9 months of our start-up where we went from “no team, and limited functionality” – to launching a successful and thriving business backed by completely custom trading platform and fulfilment engine.

Nish Mahanty

Director of Engineering
REA Group

Managing your Platform as a Product

Most of the large, traditional, businesses we encounter today feel like their market share is under threat from smaller, more nimble, purely digital competitors. These digital companies are able to continuously experiment and roll out new products and services at an accelerating pace. Even though traditional businesses have the advantage of better customer relationships, more efficient processes and deeper market knowledge, they struggle to become responsive and customer-led. Delivering new features involves scattering change across a complex organisational and IT landscape through laboriously planned and orchestrated programmes of work. In an effort to unlock their existing corporate assets, large organisations are now looking to implement “platforms” that allow them to consolidate and simplify shared capabilities and deliver to customers faster. But what are the characteristics of a good platform?

In this talk, we’ll introduce the concept of a digital platform - a foundation of self-service APIs, tools, services, knowledge and support arranged as compelling internal products. A well-constructed digital platform can accelerate digital product delivery by reducing dependencies and friction between teams and making it easier to access the core business capabilities of your organisation. Using real-world examples, we’ll describe some key characteristics for success, with particular attention to the importance of managing the platform as an internal product.

Scott Shaw

Head of Technology

Architecture to Create Culture

At past CTO summits we have introduced MYOB's platform manifesto as well as the principles and values that drive technical decision making at MYOB. The aim of this talk is our next installment that talks about our journey towards creating a plan or an intentional architecture that will bring our vision to life. It is a talk about doing bottom up architecture at scale whilst still trying to keep design malleable and supple. It will demonstrate how coming up with an architecture can ultimately connect delivery teams with the client problem and allow them to solve real customer problems. Ultimately it will show how MYOB is tackling the problem of connecting the delivery teams to customer outcomes.

Sohail Siddiqui

Head of Dealivery, SME

Surfing the Infinite Monkey Theorem for Fun and Profit

Running an open source B2B business is a tough gig. Not only can anyone see where the bodies are buried but there’s a constant tension between various stakeholders: OSS enthusiasts, customers, and employees with respect to the software. At Neo4j we see architecture as one possible organising principle around which all stakeholders can gather. In this talk I’ll describe Neo4j and its architecture and discuss how we communicate and evolve the product to bring along all stakeholders. I’ll also talk about some of the hardships that architecture alone cannot solve and look to the audience to help us out with some of our thornier corner-cases.

Jim Webber

Dr. Jim Webber is Chief Scientist with Neo Technology, the company behind the popular open source graph database Neo4j, where he works on R&D for highly scalable graph databases and writes open source software. His proven passion for microservices ecosystems and REST translate into highly engaging workshops that foster collaboration and discussion.

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