Three short reflections after Confitura 2015

Another conference (Confitura 2015), another boost of positive energy, inspiring ideas, sense of belonging to dynamic & developing community. I'll skip the usual session reviewing part this time, I'll focus on a very selective list of personal remarks instead:

Charity

Confitura's supposed to be a free conference: that's how its Orgs want it. But being a free Java conference held in a capital city of 40M citizen country raises a supply VS demand challenge -> you have to set a reasonable limit on the number of attendants. First come, first serve registration is the usual way to go in such case, but Confitura's Orgs came up with something better - each entry ticket was an equivalent of a won Confitura auction (with a reasonable buy-out price set) at polish biggest on-line auction site - Allegro. And all the income (literally 100%) acquired was donated to charity (Allegro has a dedicated sub-site for that: http://charytatywni.allegro.pl/).

IMHO - terrific idea. Chapeau bas!

Less fluff in recruitment?

As all the auction income was donated to charity, conference costs were covered by sponsors, who have crowded the place with their stands, hostesses, contests, raffles, etc. All of that with a sole purpose - to build positive image of their brand & convince participants that they are a great place to work.

Obviously, that's the way it works and there's nothing bad about that. But my observation is that Tech companies HR & Recruitment staff has improved their methods a lot:

  • no more typical corporate bullshit, far less of the meaningless waffle
  • HR & Recruitment gets better & better in adopting Software Dev lingo and understanding their expectations (what they expect to hear)
  • even leaflets and brochures ... make some sense o_O - I was really impressed

How to recognize the top-notch engineering squad?

Any my most important remark, that most likely deserves a separate blog post.

Confitura was the 3rd polish conference within a year, where I've met speakers (plural intended, more than 1) from company X. Let's leave 'X' as unknown, because its identity is not the most crucial here, but I think that it's very easy to find out who I am speaking about. Each of those conferences was a bit different - one was about Agile methods & processes, one about DevOps & one about pure software developement.

And each time, regardless of actual speaker's performance and / or topic relevance & attractiveness, I had the same impressions about guys from X:

  1. they didn't come to the conference because they were ordered to, or because this is in their MBO targets, or because they are extra paid for that - they did come because they ARE PROUD of their work & they want to share it with the broad audience

  2. they have a tight bond (in a positive way) with the stuff they present - you can easily feel that these are their problems addressed, their ideas validated, their lessons learned & their successes achieved; In other words - they are presenting the work that took the ownership over - from the very beginning to the very end; There's no doubt they have a strong DO attitude. Not whiners, but winners.

  3. they have a clear sense of identity as a group; And they don't have complexes - quite the opposite. They want to be visible & recognizable as an engineering group with a separate, unique brand - like Twitter Engineering, LinkedIn Engineering or Netflix Engineering - I really love it.

To be honest - I'm not the fan of their products (as an end-user) - I've used them few times, but I didn't really like it (though I know plenty of people who do). But now I'm not even trying to judge whether the products / ideas / processes they present are top-notch or not really, because it doesn't matter in the context I refer to. IMHO the 3 points mentioned above are a sufficient proof that they (as a team) are capable of achieving great things and together constitute a high performing team.

This is something they wouldn't be able to fake.

P.S.

I so, so, so love (& miss) the atmosphere of academic campus (Confitura took place in the campus of University of Warsaw).