Feeling very fortunate and full of expectation, I attended the London Lead Developer 2019 conference which was held at the iconic Barbican Centre in June. This event is focussed on technical leadership and it was my first time attending. It turned out to be the biggest Lead Developer conference to date as there were almost 1400 attendees and 28 speakers across the two days.

Rainbow lanyard

The organisers of the event clearly made a huge effort to take care of the details and ensure a smoothly running, truly inclusive and diverse event. On registration, attendees were presented with a choice of lanyard: a standard one; a yellow one if they preferred not to appear in any photos; and a rainbow lanyard which neatly coincided with the event being held during Pride month! Everybody had the option to personalise their badge holders with stickers to indicate their communication and pronoun preferences.

To further cater for individual needs, there was a creche, a prayer room, a quiet room and an alcohol-free lounge. Not to mention the well-labelled vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free food options during meal and snack times. All the talks and commentary were enhanced by live captioning appearing on large screens to each side of the stage.

As a sponsor, Capgemini had a stand and we were giving away #RootedInEngineering T-shirts and ice creams. Both of these proved extremely popular throughout the two day event. The backdrop of our stand was emblazoned with Capgemini’s Corporate Social Responsibility highlights and we drew interest with the greenhouse IoT demo (built during a recent hackathon). Our stall was rather eye-catching with its green and leafy motifs – some visitors commented that it’s not usually a colour or theme associated with a digital consultancy and this proved to be a talking point and an opportunity to discuss our sustainability values and how we ‘grow developers’.

DX Team Our Booth

Being a single track conference, all the talks took place in the main auditorium - I liked this because I knew I wouldn’t miss any! The talks varied in length from between 10 and 30 minutes each, presented by a host of high calibre international speakers. I was very encouraged that most of the speakers were women. In between the back to back talks, there were some breaks and a chance to refuel or browse the sponsor stands. Speaking to a few other attendees, I discovered that many had travelled from across Europe to attend.

Some common themes that ran through many of the talks were:

  • AI
  • Inclusive hiring
  • Building and developing effectively performing teams at speed and at scale
  • The importance of team health and personal wellbeing.

In my opinion, the vast majority of the talks and supporting slides were excellent and certainly measured up to my high expectations of this event. I would find it too hard to pick an absolute favourite and will watch most of them again to soak up the incredible insights and advice they offer. If you’d like to do the same, the full line up is available to view on this Youtube Playlist of all the Lead Developer 2019 Talks.

And finally, some of the book recommendations I noted were:

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us (by Daniel H. Pink)

Most of us believe that the best way to motivate ourselves and others is with external rewards like money—the carrot-and-stick approach. That’s a mistake, Daniel H. Pink says in, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, his provocative and persuasive new book. The secret to high performance and satisfaction—at work, at school, and at home—is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world.

Mindset: How You Can Fulfil Your Potential (by Carol Dweck)

In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. Virtually all great people have had these qualities.

Making Work Visible: Exposing Time Theft to Optimize Work & Flow (by Dominica DeGrandis)

Accelerate: The Science of Lean Software and DevOps: Building and Scaling High Performing Technology Organizations (by Nicole Forsgren, Jez Humble and Gene Kim)