Track: Building Great Engineering Cultures

Location: Seacliff ABC

Day of week: Wednesday

In today’s technology world, many companies recognize that their people are their biggest asset. But not everybody is thoughtful about what culture they want to create in order to attract and retain the best talent. For some companies, engineering culture is seemingly an afterthought - sometimes with dire consequences where questionable behavior is ignored for too long, until a scandal makes headlines.

In this track, we explore the meaning of culture in tech companies. We explore what startups and more established companies can do to create and maintain the kind of culture they want, and the impact this can have on their success. We also explore the interplay between a company’s product and their culture, recognizing that there is no one-size-fits all tech culture.

Track Host:
Katharina Probst
Engineering Director @Netflix

Katharina Probst is an Engineering Director at Netflix, where she is responsible for the availability and reliability of the streaming service used by more than 100 million people around the world. She previously led the API team at Netflix, one of the largest and most critical services for Netflix’s uptime. Prior to joining Netflix, she worked in the cloud platform team at Google. Her interests include reliable and scalable distributed systems, cloud computing, and building effective and successful teams. She also holds a PhD in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon University.

10:35am - 11:25am

by Sarah Novotny
Head of Open Source Strategy for GCP @Google

Kubernetes ( project is becoming the de-facto standard for managing containerized applications. Kubernetes is a success in part because of Google's commitment to making it a community led project. Building strong teams is very challenging, all the more so for an open source community. In this talk, we will go behind the scenes to look at what what made kubernetes community operate as one. Learn how the members of the community applied practices of building organic teams...

11:50am - 12:40pm

by Linda Elkins
Leader Silicon Valley Innovation Center

W.L. Gore & Associates believes that a strong company culture is more than just a nice thing to have. They believe culture drives positive business results.

The company is well known for its distinctive culture, which has been detailed in numerous case studies and books, including The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, The Future of Management by Gary Hamel and Bill Breen, and Reinventing Organizations by Frederic Laloux....

1:40pm - 2:30pm

by Marty Weiner
CTO @Reddit, formerly 2nd engineer @Pinterest

After building Pinterest from the beginning and rebuilding Reddit's engineering team as CTO, I can safely say building startups is hard. As a founder, engineer, lead, or manager, you not only have to build a great product and secure funding, but also build a great culture. If you don't build a great team, you will fail.

We're going to look at how companies evolve from very early stage startup growth to big companies and many of the management / cultural challenges faced at various...

2:55pm - 3:45pm

by Bruce Johnson
Founder and COO @FullStory

You can’t impose culture on a team, but you can induce it.

Have you ever noticed that when you work with the same group of people for a while, everyone starts to use similar phrases, metaphors, and jokes? Those are legit memes: self-replicating concepts that form the building blocks of belief systems that drive people’s behavior.

By skillfully curating the memes that are introduced and...

4:10pm - 5:00pm

by Valerie Aurora
Software Engineer & Diversity and Inclusion Consultant

Ally skills are ways people with more power and privilege can support people with less. Building and rewarding ally skills is crucial to building an inclusive engineering culture. Without them, the responsibility for fixing bias and discrimination in your culture falls to people with the least power and influence. This talk explains why allies should take action, describes some important ally skills, and recommends several concrete ways to embed ally skills in...

5:25pm - 6:15pm

by Karen Catlin
Advocate for Women in Tech, Former VP OF Eng, Adobe

by Karen Casella
Engineering Leader @Netflix, previously @EBay & @Sun

by Randy Shoup
VP Engineering at StitchFix, Previously @Google & @Ebay

by Susan Nesbitt
Head of Business Development @ Make School

by Steve Johnson
Vice President of Product Design & Creative @Netflix

Moderated by Karen Casella, Engineering Leader @Netflix

Diversity and inclusion (D&I) is an important topic in our industry, especially in light of changing demographics, globalization, and the competition for talent. Join industry leaders as they discuss the challenges and opportunities of creating and sustaining an inclusive culture and their experiences implementing diversity & inclusion strategies...



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