Track: Building & Scaling High-Performing Teams

Day of week: Monday

To build and maintain a high-performing team, one of the key ingredients is for everybody on the team to act like an owner. What does this mean? It does not mean that everybody has to vie for the top position, although owners typically act like leaders. It means that everybody will continuously ask themselves the question: if I were running a startup and this project was my business, how would I act?   In this track, we will explore ideas around ownership and the organizational underpinnings that support it: the role of organizational health and psychological safety, what owner means, how it manifests, what happens when it breaks down, and how ownership can yield high-functioning teams even in the environment of large and/or highly regulated companies.

Track Host: Katharina Probst

Senior Engineering Leader, Kubernetes & SaaS @Google

Katharina Probst is a Senior Engineering Leader, Kubernetes & SaaS at Google. Before this, she was leading engineering teams at Netflix, being responsible for the Netflix API, which helps bring Netflix streaming to millions of people around the world. Prior to joining Netflix, she was in the cloud computing team at Google, where she saw cloud computing from the provider side. Her interests include scalable, distributed systems, APIs, cloud computing, and building effective and successful teams. She also holds a PhD in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon University.

Track Host: Karen Casella

Engineering Director @Netflix, previously leading architecture teams @eBay & @Sun

Karen is currently an engineering leader @ Netflix, where she is responsible for the teams that build the server-side infrastructure to enable a secure viewing experience for our members. Karen had previously led engineering and architecture teams @EBay & @Sun, before taking a ten year detour to start-up land. Karen is passionate about diversity and inclusion in technology organizations and how to encourage young people from under-represented groups to start their journey towards our incredible world of ever-changing technology.

Mistakes and Discoveries While Cultivating Ownership

At Netflix, we pair a strong sense of responsibility for outcomes with the freedom to choose how those outcomes are met to let people do their best and most-impactful work. My path to cultivating a culture of Ownership on our team was twisted and full of missteps. To help us talk about it and increase it routinely,  our team created a model of the five levels of Ownership: 

  • 0. Demonstration - Watch me do it. Ask good questions.
  • 1. Oversight - Run it by me. Expect a lot of revisions.
  • 2. Observation -  I’ll watch you do it with occasional high-level guidance.
  • 3. Execution - You do it independently, with random check-ins for me to stay aware.
  • 4. Vision - Tell me what we should do.

We also discovered necessary precursors - purpose, freedom, trust and safety. In this talk, I’ll share my well-intentioned mistakes and what we’ve learned so far.

Aaron Blohowiak, Engineering Manager @Netflix in Cloud Infrastructure


Monday, 11 November

  • Architectures You've Always Wondered About

    Next-gen architectures from the most admired companies in software, such as Netflix, Google, Facebook, Twitter, & more

  • Languages of Infrastructure

    This track explores languages being used to code the infrastructure. Expect practices on toolkits and languages like Cloudformation, Terraform, Python, Go, Rust, Erlang.

  • Building & Scaling High-Performing Teams

    To have a high-performing team, everybody on it has to feel and act like an owner. Organizational health and psychological safety are foundational underpinnings to support ownership.

  • Bare Knuckle Performance

    Killing latency and getting the most out of your hardware

  • Ethics, Regulation, Risk, and Compliance

    With so much uncertainty, how do you bulkhead your organization and technology choices? Learn strategies for dealing with uncertainty.

  • Software Supply Chain

    Life of a software artifact from commit to deployment. Security, observability and provenance of the software supply chain.

Tuesday, 12 November

Wednesday, 13 November