This week I became Umbraco HQ's Director of Developer Relations. We're not known for sensible job titles but I wanted to let you know that this call was, in fact, mine.
In the run up to my taking on the post, I did my meetings from my now-chaotic home office and had many a conversation about what the role looked like and how the day-to-day work I did would change. My partner wandered around in the background for some of these and one evening, he expressed a concern. I paraphrase but for the sake of readability (and drama) let's pretend that these were his words: "Em, you need to stop talking yourself down. Why do you keep telling people that you're not a grown up?"
Oh dear. It's weird when people tell you about yourself, even kindly. I use those two words regularly and more often than not, to tell people that they know more than I do. To excuse my lack of experience, eloquence and competence. It's about dodging accountability and that's not something I want to do, consciously, but it tells me that some part of me is still wedded to the idea that I'm not up to my job.
And that just isn't true. I wouldn't have asked for this role if I didn't think I could boss it. I have a multitude of concerns, who wouldn't, but crikey, I really do believe I'm the best person for the job. So here I am. Showing up and owning up.
Grown up job titles are a little unfashionable though, and in our wonderful community, we are known for ensuring that even our monikers are friendly. We have 'magicians' and 'astronauts'! I love being a part of an organisation that wears it's culture on its sleeve. I feel at home here and I know that I'm appreciated as much for my silliness as for my technical abilities. That said, I'm not a long time in this biz. I'm a relative newb and I am from an underrepresented group (or three). I care deeply about representation and I need to show that I am here, in the Umbraco sphere and the wider 'verse. Little me (circa 2015) needed big me around to show her it was possible. If you head over to Linkedin and search for the words "director of developer relations", I show up. There I am.
I am also acutely aware that Umbraco has something that tech companies far and wide strive to create, often without much luck. A thriving and mature community. It's a space like no other - and I should know. It raised me. We have been responsible for so much of the innovation that we now enjoy in the project and we have multiplied and multiplied as the years go on, striving always to remain friendly so that it never becomes just a tagline. It has to be the ethos. It's not by chance or by luck that we have created and maintained that culture; taking 50 Umbraco fans and growing that community to the thousands of active contributors we see now came through structured collaboration, mentorship, workshops for beginners, workshops for old-timers, meetups with pizza and beer, meetups with tea and cake, meetups online and in pajamas, training, accessibility improvements to both the software and the community spaces, evolving codes of conduct, code of conduct training for respondents, bunny costumes, chainsaws and swag, marching bands and bingo, the pac-man technique, brave people having difficult conversations, event organisers quietly cajoling reluctant speakers, forum posts asking for help, forum posts helping, joining discord even though you have 6 other chat clients to worry about, tweets and blogs, songs and poems, sock puppets and many, many lines of code contributed to the core, the docs and packages.
It is the work of some very 'grown up' thinking.
Top comments (2)
Emma, I love this! Major congrats on your new role, I've got a hug saved for you, to be delivered in person in mid June 🤗
I can't wait :)