Conference Review: The Lead Developer London 2019

Posted by Mircea Gheorghiu

Hey! I’m Mircea. I’m currently the Engineering Manager for the Growth Engineering team here in London.

This is my second year of attending The Lead Developer London conference; I would say if you’re interested in leading and managing engineers, this is the best conference for you! This year I found it very refreshing and full of interesting topics with content for both seasoned managers and those just making the switch from individual contributor to manager.

The conference has only one track for both days it runs on, which is handy as you will never miss a talk that you might be interested in.

Lead Dev works by having 30 minute presentations and then 10 minute ones thrown in between to mix things up. Every year they also have 2-3 talks which are more technical to keep it interesting. Most of the topics are really interesting, so the 10 minute talks leave you wanting more and sometimes I wish they were a little bit longer, perhaps substituting the tech talks out for this could be the one thing that might improve the day.

The highlights are usually the keynotes and this year they didn’t disappoint. The first key note was by Laura Hogan about team friction and the key stages in a team’s life. Laura spoke a lot about the 6 core human needs you need to fulfil to be safe and secure at work (fine, I’ll spoil it for you: belonging, improvement/progress, choice, equality/fairness, predictability and significance). This was extremely interesting and very on point when focusing on having high performing teams. She also launched [her new book, “Resilient Management”, which I would definitely recommend for both new and experienced managers. Even though I’ve been an engineering manager for the last 9 years, I still found things in the book that reminded me of good management habits.

Other notable talks were from Heidi Waterhouse (“12/10, Excellent doggo: the power of positive transformation”), Melinda Seckington (“Level Up: Developing Developers”), Pat Kua (“Flavours of technical leadership”), Ola Sitarska (“Behind the scenes of an effective & inclusive hiring process”) just to name a few.

My personal favourite was probably an obvious one: Nickolas Means with “Eiffel’s Tower”. Nick is a veteran of Lead Dev conferences and the way he uses storytelling to enforce engineering practices in his talks is absolutely brilliant. This year he used the story of how the Eiffel Tower was built, to show that politics and knowing how to influence upwards are everyday issues in all companies. The more you know how to navigate that, the better off you and your team will be. That made me challenge some of my beliefs that getting involved at all in politics (or “making friends and telling stories” Nick calls it, I love this) is not something I should be doing.

In all honesty, I will not be doing justice to this talk if I try to explain it, so the best thing you can do is to actually watch it yourself here.

Oh did I forget to say that all the talks are recorded and available for free online? My bad!

Here’s the whole playlist from this year’s conference.

As parting words, I would like to mention something about the sponsors and the food: there’s loads of tech companies present in the foyer and giving away gadgets and gear (I love my Datadog t-shirt this year!) so be sure to walk around and explore it. The buffet food provided was really delicious, but just make sure to grab some before it’s gone!

See you next year Lead Dev London!


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