YOW! CTO Summit 2018 Melbourne

Wednesday, 5th December 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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Code Review-Review is the Manager's Job

In a modern development team the code review process is a critical and high value activity - but what is the managers role in it?

In this talk I'll argue that the developers are the players in the game and managers are part coach and part referee. We'll explore how to find the balance between reasonable supervision and micromanagement and what the daily habits you should build as to engage with the process.

John Barton


Keynote: Scaling Birchbox: Lessons Learned

In 2011 I joined Birchbox, a startup with a few thousand customers, no technology team, and a small office stacked high with beauty products. Over the ensuing years we scaled the business to more than a million active subscribers, serving 6 countries, out of 4 offices. In this talk I’ll discuss some of the lessons I learned building the engineering, product and data teams, and scaling the technology.

Liz Crawford


Keynote: Supporting Constant Change

Everything in IT changes constantly: business, technology, practices, and so on. This keynote investigates techniques that allow architects and developers to build systems that support rather than avoid change.

The only constant in IT is change: Business practices change, tools and frameworks evolve, and wholly new tools and techniques appear on a regular basis. How can developers develop and architects architect in an environment like this?

This keynote highlights techniques to support constant change, including evolutionary architecture, immutable infrastructure, coding techniques, and better ways to gather requirements. I also cover flexible governance models, evolutionary data, and adaptability. This keynote covers the breadth of modern software development, packed with advice on how to build systems that embrace rather than avoid change.

Neal Ford

Neal is Director, Software Architect, and Meme Wrangler at ThoughtWorks, a software company and a community of passionate, purpose-led individuals, delivering technology to address the toughest challenges, all while seeking to revolutionize the IT industry and create positive social change. He speaks at many conferences.

Scaling mobile app development at REA

As REA's technology capability has grown to over 500 people across many teams, its mobile development capability has been largely centralised in a few teams. In a world where almost every new product needs a presence in our mobile apps, we've been making changes to allow us to build for mobile at scale.
In this talk, Prasanna and Stewart will address some of the challenges faced as we've scaled, that are accentuated when building mobile apps as opposed to web. We'll share REA's experience meeting these challenges by moving away from a single mobile team to a federated model where mobile development happens across many teams. That model required a new approach to the architecture of both our mobile apps and their companion APIs.

Stewart Gleadow

Executive Manager of Engineering
REA Group

Grads are your future - it's time to invest!

How awesome would it be if you could easily hire switched on developers who are highly engaged, hungry to learn, challenge the status quo, drive positive cultural change and are not burdened with skepticism from former employers? Starting a graduate program may sound like a lot of hard work, but even a low-fi implementation can produce far-reaching benefits.

In this session, you will hear about SEEK's journey towards a successful and sustainable graduate program. Learn why and how we got started, how it has evolved and the unanticipated benefits our graduates have brought. Along the way, we will discuss practical steps to ensure your graduate intake is diverse, your graduates get targeted, practical technical training and you are building an inclusive culture to support their career development.

Michelle Gleeson

Tech Diversity Lab

Working at Netflix

Netflix is a company that innovates on not only technology, but also company culture. The Netflix culture deck, now a memo, has had over 18 million views, and describes an environment of "freedom and responsibility", "context not control", and "highlight aligned, loosely coupled". In this session, Brendan will summarize the Netflix culture, and describe personal experiences of it in practice from the viewpoint of an engineer. Takeaways include aspects that may be useful to adopt at other companies.

Brendan Gregg

Intel Corporation

How to survive and thrive in Tech Leadership through an Agile transformation

This talk provides insights into the challenges faced by Technology leaders in the Enterprise wide Agile Transformation Bankwest is undergoing. It's a frank account of the goals, success, but most importantly unexpected side effects and lessons learned to date. It will help anyone going through or planning a major transformation and faced with leading engineering or technology teams.

Sean Langton


Moving from a monolith to a distributed monolith - a cautionary tale on adopting microservices

This talk is a case study of our architectural evolution over the last 2 years.

Our start-up had licensed a customised warehouse management system in order to demonstrate our innovative new business model. The WMS had a traditional 3-tier architecture based on Java and SQL server, and was lightning fast with most of the business logic encapuslated in stored procedures.

Out our start-up we needed to be able to "test and learn" - ie rapidly develop and deploy new features and test them in the market with our customers. Based on the feedback we would identify tweaks to the business model, and fine-tune the functionality that our customers wanted.

We had a launch date 5 months in future, a need to scale rapidly, growing the team from 2 devs to 20 within 8 weeks. And we needed to be able to work in parallel on multiple features. Whilst ensuring that the application was secure, performant, and reliable.

The answer, according to a bunch of experts, was to adopt microservices.

Three years later, we have a suite of secure, scalable, and resilient applications running in AWS. We deploy to Production multiple times a day, and our MTTR is less than 30 minutes.

And we have Services. Some of them are "micro".

But reflecting on what we learned in that period, there are a lot of things that we wished we had done differently.

In this talk I'll walk you through the evolution of our architecture, explain some of the choices, and highlight what we learned, and discuss what we would do differently if faced with the same decisions today.

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

Keynote: Manufacturing High Performance

Since Taylor's theories of scientific management in the early 20th century, most management has focused on improving performance by changing behavior, and changing behavior by changing motivation. Turns out, people are more creatures of habit than they are of motivation or calculation. Psychological safety, engagement, and caring about people are all important for the leader of an organization, including a technical organization. To take that a step further and get a high performance team, most engineering organizations need to be de-bureaucratized. Most attempts to improve engineering efficiency focus on process. That's difficult and boring. Fortunately, you can get better results by making actual engineering decisions that restructure organizational decision-making, turning normal teams into high performance teams.

Casey Rosenthal

Casey Rosenthal is currently the CTO at backplane.io. Philosopher, volunteer, vegan. Formerly at Netflix, Basho.

Lessons from a security incident

When you experience a breach as a tech organisation, it is how you respond, and what you learn from it, that matters most.

We invested heavily in security at PageUp, even going through the ISO 27001 certification process, including having a very active Information Security Governance Committee and a robust security incident response plan -- however -- until May, a security incident was something that you prepared for, but always happened to other organisations.

These days, cyber attacks are a fact of life: it is now a question of when, not if, they will happen to your organisation. That mindset switch has many implications to culture, technology and investment.

We often hear about security incidents from industry experts, academics and commentators in the media. This is a valuable opportunity to share my personal experience with my peers. In this talk, I’ll take you through the key lessons we have learned as an organisation and how we’re implementing this mindset switch.

Tal Rotbart

PageUp People

Colab: Leveraging platforms to achieve speed at scale

Scaling agile engineering organisations is hard.

Today's truly agile organisations are built on small autonomous teams delivering value to customers. Autonomy and empowerment are great cultural traits but they have a dark side at scale -- they can create a lot of duplication and waste. How can organisations get economies of scale without undermining the very culture that they were built on?

This talk is about how REA Group is taking a product approach to our internal platform to drive speed at scale. Our platform is called Colab and we are applying tried product techniques like brand, product lifecycle & customer satisfaction metrics to develop it. Importantly, we're taking an approach that embraces autonomous teams and customer proximity so none of our cultural values are undermined.

I'll focus on the key concept of treating internal platforms as products. I'll tell the story of how REA is doing this and provide some tips for listeners grappling with the same problem in their organisations.

Tomas Varsavsky

Chief Engineer
REA Group

‘Leadership’ to ‘First Time Parent’ to ‘Working Parent’…....lets make this better!

Sharing some true stories about the journey of ‘Leadership’ to ‘First Time Parent’ to ‘Working Parent’ and all the bits in between. I have recently been through this journey myself and want to share some of my experiences as well as other leaders, both mums and dads, who have recently been through this experience, with the view to making this better for the next people to go on this incredible journey.

Our community talks a lot about what companies should provide women once they have had a baby, however I believe we are missing the crucial stages; before/during/after, where our new parents really need help. I am going to talk about some recent experiences of becoming new parents in our industry and what other areas we are not talking enough about as leaders of our industry to make this journey better for all involved.

I will reflect on what I believe are the four key stages of this journey and share stories, with the view to opening a discussion about some other topics for us to start improving as a community.

  1. Pre-pregnancy

  2. During pregnancy

  3. Parental Leave

  4. Becoming a working parent

Tanya Windscheffel

Platform Delivery Manager

Other Years