Presentation: Engineering Inclusion

Track: The Whole Engineer

Location: Ballroom BC

Duration: 1:40pm - 2:30pm

Day of week: Tuesday

Level: Beginner

Persona: Architect, Chaos/Resiliency/SRE, CTO/CIO/Leadership, Data Engineering, Data Scientist, Developer, Developer, .NET, Developer, JVM, DevOps Engineer, Front-end Developer, General Software, ML Engineer, Mobile Developer, Security Professional, Technical Engineering Manager

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What You’ll Learn

  • Recognize opportunities to create diversity by focusing on inclusion.
  • Understand the value of diversity within your organization.


There has been much discussion about improving diversity in the tech industry. While admirable, focusing on diversity without accounting for inclusion can result in temporary gains. In this talk, we will examine the need for inclusive measures as part of building a strong engineering culture and its impact on the product development process. We will explore techniques for achieving balance in an industry that has historically skewed in a particular direction. Finally, we will look at these issues from an engineering and business point of view in addition to the usual social good standpoint.


What is your role at Heptio?

I'm the VP of Engineering at Heptio. We're focused on bringing cloud native technologies like Kubernetes to enterprises. And since we're a startup I'm primarily focused on establishing the engineering organization and culture and delivering product.

What made you want to do this talk?

I think a lot of the you know tech giants like the Googles and Facebooks who have announced diversity initiatives haven't really seen any meaningful change. And my assumption is that a lot of this is largely due to the fact that they haven't focused on inclusion and just making sure that people feel welcome and accepted once they do join your company. So you end up getting an influx of people in, but because there is some systemic problems that haven't been addressed they tend to leave rather quickly. So the real focus should be on inclusion which will then lead to having increased diversity in your organization.

So instead of focusing on quotas and specific recruiting efforts, they should build a great onboarding process?

Exactly, but I think the larger point is that people should stop looking at diversity inclusion as just sort of us you know good Samaritan thing to do and start looking at it from a business perspective. We're living in a global society, we're living in a very diverse society, and if a very homogeneous group of people are creating products for a target audience you're going to miss … you're going to miss pretty big.

By having product managers designers developers that come from diverse backgrounds like have diverse experiences will only end up improving your product design which then expands its reach. And I think the more that people get that they'll understand that they shouldn't be looking at this from a quota based perspective. They should be looking at it from a how do I improve my product perspective.

What keeps you up at night?

Technology problems don't keep me up at night. And probably that's a function of my position. People problems keeping you me at night. That's one thing that has been consistent throughout my career that most of the technology problems basically can be tracked back to people but people end up creating a lot of the technology problems that we have by either reinventing the wheel or applying technology for technology's sake.

Speaker: Kevin Stewart

VP of Engineering @Heptio

Kevin Stewart is Vice President of Engineering at Heptio, an emerging leader in the cloud native computing space started by two of the founders of Google Compute Engine and the Kubernetes open source project. He held a similar role at NodeSource where he helped create NodeSource N|Solid, an enterprise grade Node.js runtime. Kevin is a 10-year veteran at Adobe and one of the original engineering leaders for Creative Cloud where his team built the very first service offering, Creative Cloud Assets. Prior to Adobe, Kevin held leadership roles at multiple software companies and digital agencies, where he helped shape the engineering culture by improving development and delivery practices and encouraged cross-functional teams. While currently residing in Seattle, Kevin is a lifelong New Yorker with dreams of relocating to a sunny island in the Caribbean. When he’s not helping teams build great products, Kevin can be found spending time with his family or at the gym trying to stay (get) in shape.

Find Kevin Stewart at

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