Config Management Camp 2017

I had a fabulous time at Config Management Camp this year, so I decided to write a brief post about what I learnt. Spoiler alert — it’s all about people!

Community

I am from a very large family, and when we all get together it’s noisy, rowdy, drunken and wonderful. It doesn’t happen very often so when it does it’s very special. Config Management Camp feels exactly the same.

Competition is put to one side — whether you’re a user or a vendor everyone comes to learn from each other — to participate, to hang out and to reconnect. It was wonderful to see the warm welcome extended to John Vincent (key note speaker and clearly a much adored member of the community) who had travelled to Europe for the first time in 4 years to be at the event.

As a long-time Chef friend (my company Pendrica was a Chef partner) I enjoyed connecting with the Vox Pupuli gang this time. What they are doing for the Puppet community is amazing. Thanks for the super cute foxes and for making my year with your “What would Hannah do?” anecdote…

John Vincent and some Vox Pupuli Foxes!

Human problems are tricky

I spoke about Human Resilience in the main track (slides here and recording here) and the topic clearly resonated with a lot of people. It was amazing to spend the next 2 days speaking to people about their human challenges at work. I even had a queue lined up to chat to me in one of the breaks. I never expected to get such a reaction, but I think it’s indicative of the struggles people are going through right now. It turns out that I hit a nerve with the following point:

“Just by being here today you are telling me that you’re taking steps to embrace change. So maybe you aren’t the people who need to work on your resilience.
But, there are a lot of folks out there that are struggling right now. Maybe it’s the sysadmin with 20 years experience, who is facing redundancy if she doesn’t learn how to automate her infrastructure. Maybe it’s the network team who have been told that their organisation is migrating to the cloud. Maybe it’s the whole technology department trying to get their head around what serverless means for them.
As a community we can help these people. And we can help them by focusing on resilience, and by creating a culture and a work environment that improves our resilience as individuals and as a team.”

There is no simple answer to these problems. How I wish I had a simple answer I could give you. All I know is that talking through your problems helps. At the end of my presentation I offered the audience an ear to listen and they took up that offer. Config Management Camp may be over but I’m happy to continue to do that for anyone who needs another point of view, someone to listen, or just a little reassurance that you’re not on your own!

I would love to see some more HumanOps meetups popping up around the world. If you would like some help organising one let me know!

Things I learnt from Annie Part 1 — Anyone can learn technology

There is only one word to describe Annie Hedgpeth and that is inspirational. Her amazingly honest talk about her journey into technology made me feel like anything is possible. I have often felt like there is so much I need to learn that it’s an impossible task. That ends now.

As many folks already know I’m embarking on a dramatic career move (I will blog about that soon). I have a lot to learn this year but listening to Annie has made me realise that the most important thing is to just make a start.

Things I learnt from Annie Part 2 — Lending your privilege

During her talk Annie mentioned some of the key people who had made a difference to her life by lending her their privilege. As the only female speakers at Config Management Camp, it’s not surprising that Annie and I have a lot in common. It would be easy for us to feel like we don’t belong here but we’ve both been very lucky to have supporters and champions to lend us their privilege along the way. Folks who have let us borrow their platform when we’ve needed a boost.

This is where I need to give Kris Buytaert a massive shout out for helping me. After a few too many beers at DevOpsDays London I told him how I would have loved to speak at DevOpsDays but I was too intimidated by all the “thought leaders” to respond to the RFP… I guess the rest is history but who would have thought that within less than 6 months I could go from intimidated wannabe to keynote speaker? That’s what happens when someone lends you their privilege — it can change your life. Thank you!

As we all make our way home and back to work, perhaps you’d like to join me in reflecting on your highlights of Config Management Camp this year and share them in the comments here or on twitter #cfgmgmtcamp.

I’m already looking forward to seeing you all in Gent next year, if not before!


Originally published at hannahfoxwell.net on February 9, 2017.

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