Presentation: Vision & Strategy - Epiphanies of a Netflix Leader

Track: Beyond Being an Individual Contributor

Location: Bayview AB

Duration: 10:35am - 11:25am

Day of week: Monday

Level: Intermediate

Persona: General Software, Technical Engineering Manager

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New managers are reactive tacticians by default. Product managers drive requirements and due dates. Technical migrations, operational emergencies, and support requests form a maelstrom of distraction. It’s easy to become overwhelmed with these challenges and a common reaction is to double down on speed and efficiency. These are important tactical skills to develop but leadership (vs management) is a whole different game. Leaders are proactive, seeking out opportunities to get ahead of challenges or enable new possibilities.

Leaders think broadly and systemically - enabling them to make the right call in situations where the solution is non-obvious. Where do we apply constrained resources to maximum effect? Which infrastructure investments will yield the most benefit? How do we carve out a path that leads to transformative change?

In this session we’ll explore the concepts of vision and strategy - tools that business and technical leaders alike leverage to make tough decisions and smart bets that lead to breakout success. Using Netflix as a case study we’ll explore how these tools were used to drive bold initiatives resulting in significant business growth and competitive barriers. In addition, we’ll delve into the role of technical strategy in turning business-oriented visions into reality. Attendees will develop a deeper understanding of the formulation, implementation, and impact of vision and strategy. This is a bootstrap for those who want to make the leap from manager to leader - a journey that can last a lifetime.


What’s the motivation for this talk?

After doing engineering management for a several years I started to wonder why some of my peers were being promoted but I was not. When I asked I was told that I was "not strategic enough". While I appreciated the feedback I wasn't able to put it into context. What did it mean to be more or less strategic? Formal definitions didn't really help. I sought more advice and slowly got traction but it wasn't until years later that I was able to put everything into place. My motivation for this talk is to give new leaders and and those curious about leadership a leg up so that they can start developing these more advanced skills as early as possible.

What do you hope someone will leave this talk with?

I hope that attendees will come away with a deep appreciation for the power of well-defined visions and effective strategies. We'll walk through real-world examples that demonstrate how specific strategies manifest. If I do a good job attendees will internalize these concepts so that they can start to develop their own visions and strategies and with practice master these skills.

How you you describe the persona and level of the target audience?

There are two constituencies that will benefit from this talk. 1) Relatively new managers who are struggling to get ahead of challenges or establish a strong sense of direction and purpose. 2) Individual contributors who are interested in getting a glimpse into the world of leadership and the skills necessary to be successful long term.

Speaker: Josh Evans

Senior Director of Platform Service Engineering @ GitHub (Formerly @ Netflix)

Josh Evans is a 17-year Netflix veteran (27 years in tech) with experience spanning e-commerce, video streaming services, infrastructure, tools, testing, support, devops, and SRE. Josh's last role at Netflix was Director of Operations Engineering where he drove the continuous improvement of operational quality and infrastructure efficiency while enabling a high rate of product innovation. Operations Engineering involved domains such as continuous delivery, real-time monitoring, and chaos engineering. Josh has recently joined GitHub as Senior Director of Platform Service Engineering - building out APIs and infrastructure to help transform the way software development is done. 

Find Josh Evans at



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