DerbyCon Interview Series: Nicole Schwartz (Circuit Swan fka AmazonV)
I sat down with Nicole Schwartz to talk about her involvement and memories of DerbyCon.
Nicole attended many years of DerbyCon, with DerbyCon 3 being her first. It is one conference that she has attended solely as an attendee. For the final DerbyCon, she was a speaker (more on that later in this article) and in previous years, she has helped with resume review.
Through her presentation, (embedded below) she provided security people ideas on how to use DevSecOps to their advantage. Her hope is that attendees leave with at least one new idea of how to do DevSecOps better — this might be ideas around tools (like GitLab), or programs (like growing agile advocates) or even just getting a plan ready for what would be a small tool or process to automate if engineering gets on board to help them reduce their risk.
When asked about community resources to share, Schwartz had no shortage of delights to share, even going as far as to preface the question with a question in terms of a limit. She is staff for The Diana Initiative, staffed Defcon SkyTalks for a few years. With MzBat and Lesley Carhart, she volunteers to help to coordinate the Career workshops at conferences and wants the community to know that the resume review and mock interview clinic format is open source and other people should do at events!
Schwartz tries and does hackerswan, hackerfoodies, and hackerconticketexchange herself. She has helped sylv3on do the ladies of Defcon meetup this past year and the WAN party discord, which, with others, she is trying to grow and improve a WAN party or WAN squad (to be more inclusive) meetup at Defcon for next year (Defcon 28). She plans to help with Defconprom.
It is evident that Nicole loves mentoring for talks. The Diana Initiative implemented this in 2019, inspired by BSides Las Vegas Proving Ground. She helped run a scholarship drive to bring 9 students to The Diana Initiative and would like to improve and grow it for next year
Nicole maintains a project or two on advice for those hosting conferences to level up their inclusivity, tips, and tricks for doing CFPs, and advice for first-time speakers and conference-goers. I asked if there was anything else, her response, “and I am sure more, lol, but that's likely too much.” As a passion, she wants to try and grow the community and help so many other people.
Schwartz enjoyed DerbyCon for the friendly Hyatt staff (like Kelly, who notably received a DerbyCon Black Badge during the closing ceremony) and chose to stay at the Hyatt this year. She also points out that it was smaller (like ShmooCon) so seeing friends made it worth it. Finally it previously was an event that she could drive to which was great, and lastly, so many of my friends attend.
Her favorite memory, weirdly, Render and Nicole fell in love at DerbyCon. They started at BSides Las Vegas 3 years back, continued the fling through Defcon, then she came to DerbyCon only to hang with him. The outcome? Well, now she’s moving to Canada!
The conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.
This article is part of a series of articles about DerbyCon IX including interviews with speakers, organizers, and attendees.
Nicole Schwartz (@CircuitSwan) is a Product Manager for the GitLab Secure team. In her career, she has been in Product, System Administration, and Agile coaching. Before her career ever started she was a Hacker. When she isn’t working, she volunteers at and attends conventions (you may have known her as AmazonV) such as the Diana Initiative and groups like HackerSwan, HackerFoodies, and HackerConTicketExchange.