Djugl Lightning Talks: From nailing 121s to winging it as a CTO

The scene: Potato’s offices in central London. The crowd: curious developers with a hunger for industry knowledge. The refreshments? A sizzling summer barbecue – but that’s another blog. This one is all about the ten amazing speakers who made the evening such a success. We can’t cover them all today, so we’re going to focus on our first four amazing guests.  
Testing times
First up was Chris Beecham of @ThomsonReuters, whose topic was Unit Testing. This was among our techier talks, but Chris made sure that everyone was on the same page by drawing on a scene from classic sci-fi adventure, The Matrix. Using the famous red pill-blue pill quandary, he demonstrated a high level testing process. It was a great way to illustrate what to do when you have an object method which uses a resource that isn’t available in the local development environment.

Too many hats?
Chris passed the baton on to Leah Cohen of @DigitalGlacier. She tackled a very different subject: What Makes Managing Engineers so Difficult? Drawing on her own experiences, Leah explained how organisations often expect line managers to be hands-on senior developers too. The result? Someone who’s too distracted and burnt out by different tasks to be dedicated to their team. Shockingly, only 58% of managers have actual management training, according to Leah. Her solution is simple: distinct career pathways for Engineers and Managers.
121 101s
Our hosts, @potatolondon, also had some expert advice for the audience. Agile Coach, Laxmi Kerai (likes: owls, cat gifs and reading) took the stage to discuss the basics of 121s. She gave some hugely useful and practical tips to make 121s productive and less intimidating, from changing the setting by heading outdoors, to designing the agenda together. Laxmi also talked about the importance of clear, two-way communication and listening to feedback. And watch out for those ‘door handle moments’ – casually making hugely significant comments just as you usher the employee out the door!

A crash course for CTOs
Coming up to the half-way point, we met freelance developer, Richard Kirsch. Except he wasn’t always a developer – in the past, he was also a CTO. Having never performed the role before, he had a serious learning curve. And that formed the basis for his talk: How to Blag Being a CTO. The self-deprecating title concealed a wealth of guidance that was relevant for both experienced and wannabe CTOs, from getting the critical stuff right, to seeking advice and fighting for your time.
Phew – so much to think about and we’re only four speakers in! Stay tuned for part 2 of our latest Djugl debrief.