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In this post I'll do my best to review the second and final day (Sunday, June 23) of the "From Developer to CTO" Bootcamp event, the final phase of the Tech Leadership Training Course: an online program promoted by Facebook Developer Circles in partnership with Codemotion and designed to help developers in their journey to become Chief Technical Officers by combining strong interpersonal, influential and technical skills. In case you missed the DAY 1 report (Saturday, June 22), you've still the chance to get rid of your sin by reading it here!
In this second day the attendees had the chance to get some valuable insights from the Facebook experts, which shared their knowledge about a number of different yet interesting topics: Facebook values, hiring techniques, team management and product management.
This bootcamp has been designed to be a 2-days event hosted by Codemotion by the LUISS EnLabs & LVenture Group venues in Rome, Italy.
LUISS EnLabs, also known as "The Startup Factory", is one of the leading startup accelerators in Europe. It was established in 2013 as a joint venture between LVenture Group - a venture capital operator listed on the Stock Exchange - and LUISS Guido Carli University, and in just a few years it has accelerated over 60 startups. Twice a year LUISS EnLabs selects them for its Acceleration Programs and also organizes Open Innovation Programs to bring corporates into the world of innovation. Overall, the startups have collected 44 million euros, 11 from LVenture Group and the remaining from other international venture capital funds and Business Angels. Thanks to the support of its network of investors, corporates and institutions - including LUISS University - and its partners Wind Tre, BNL Gruppo BNP Paribas, Accenture and Sara Assicurazioni, LUISS EnLabs has grown into a real point of reference for innovation in Italy.
The Program - Second Day
- 9:00: check in opening
- 9:30: Opening by Facebook
- 10:00: Talk by Facebook - Facebook values and how we hire, Emer O’Leary & Ashley Jameson
- 11:15-11:30: Small Break
- 11:30: Talk by Facebook - How to set your own values / Health of teams, Emer O’Leary & Ashley Jameson
- 13:00-14:00: Lunch break
- 14:00: Talk by Facebook - Product Management inside Facebook, Rags Vadali
- 15:00-15:15: Small Break
- 15:15 - 16:30: Talk by Facebook - Product Management workshop, Rags Vadali
All the talks have been held in english language.
As it can be easily seen by looking at the program, the final day was entirely dedicated to Facebook: the world's leading social network was once again introduced by Willie Elamien, Facebook Product Partnership Program Manager, which briefly summarized the various topics that will be addressed later on and asked us to fill in a Facebook survey strictly related to the Developer Circles initiative.
Funny enough, the questionnaire was made using Google Forms instead of relying to a Facebook app: a vibrant sign that free cloud-based tools, when properly done, are fated to become a de-facto standard for everyone, to the point you stumble upon them even in the places where you'd least expect it. That's indeed a positive sign, since diversity is freedom: kudos to Willie (assuming he made that call)!
Right after Willie the stage went to the official Developer Circles Rome Facebook group: the two founders asked the attendees to join, explaining how such group could help the Developer Circles italian community to grow even further in these crucial early stages. For those who want to join them, here's the URL to click to. They even introduced the audience to a funny "selfie lottery", which might sound a bit odd considering the context... and it actually kind of was, when they actually pulled it off! (more on that later on)
Facebook values and how we hire
Right after the selfie lottery guys it was the turn of Emer O’Leary & Ashley Jameson: after a brief introduction, they introduced us to the Facebook EMEA Recruiting Program: an enticing set of techniques aiming to build the best teams in the world and create an amazing company culture. The program strongly relies to a passionate recruiting community formed by Program Managers, Recruiters, Coordinators and Sourcers: they explained quite well how all of these people work together to bring the world's best talent to Facebook.
They made a good speech, often switching between the employer objectives (Facebook, yet also a standard company) and the employees expectations and personal goals. Although hardly original, such approach - if performed to its fullest extent - is probably the less reckless approach for a company to bring togheter demand and supply in our current working reality.
When talking from the employee perspective, they introduced the concept of Employee Value Proposition (EVP), which is basically the balance of the rewards and benefits that are received by employees in return for their performance at the workplace. Such topic eventually brought the first interactive workshop of the day, who was about finding a proper way define a company culture.
Once done, Ashley Jameson took over the mic to talk about Facebook Careers, the Facebook hiring platform: she spent a good amount of slides to briefly recap the most important tasks that needs to be done by a potential candidate to be noticed, and also by companies to attract them in the best possible way. From the importance of LinkedIn to the benefits of building a good offline presence; from the challenge of doing first-hand hiring interviews, to the pros and cons of resorting to head-hunters and job agencies. An enjoyable talk that approached the topic from both sides: candidates and companies.
How to set your own values / Health of teams
Right after that, Emer O’Leary took over to bring back the concept of values: those what we seek during a job interview, yet also those that we expect to find within the ideal company we're looking for. Again, the perspective change was the real added value of the talk: being forced to continuously switch to either side of the river was a good exercise for those who frequently deal with hiring processes, yet also precious for those who are actively seeking it.
Is our company good enough to attract great coders? Are we actually using the the things that we do and/or those who define us to their full extent? Is there a way to improve using our current brand image, or do we have to change it to increase our chances to find (or be found by) what we're looking for?
These questions were enough to keep us thinking... at least until the lunch break.
Product Management inside Facebook
The whole afternoon experience was expertly led by Rags Vadali, Product Manager for Facebook and formerly for Google. The first part of his talk was all about Product Building fundamentals, which is definitely a great topic for former developers and aspiring CTOs, since neither of them usually know much about that.
Understand, Identify, Execute: those were the three keywords Rags tried to carve in our minds: a simple plan that could only work if those who want to pull it off follow some proven best practices in all the defining phases, thus avoiding some hideous, yet common pitfalls that could hinder the whole process. Rad chose to focus the understanding phase, which is often the root of all evil - especially when we are unable to bring back our all brainstorm sessions, thoughts and collected feedback into few, clear and defining statements: they have to be simple, straight-forward and solution agnostic; they need to be functional, emotional or social, depending on the kind of need we're trying to address. Failing to properly understand the questions that truly define the overall meaning of our product will make us unable to identify the answers, let alone being able to execute (or produce) anything. That was the whole point of Rads talk, and I definitely think he nailed it down.
The talk also hosted a couple practical individual and group workshops: in the former one, the attendees were asked to produce effective statements; in the latter, they had to collectively come out with some credible "product ideas" that could match against the social network's mother-of-all-questions: how to connect people sharing common interests? The answers given by the various brainstorming groups were actually rather funny: it definitely seems we're going to see a whole lot of next-level, predictive & cognitively adaptive tagging system in the near future!
Jokes aside, it truly was an interesting and insightful talk, which smoothly led us to the greetings phase...
... Where we were (literally) struck by the annouced selfie lottery! Where the Developer Circles Rome admins joyfully hurled some t-shirts to the winners.
And that's basically about it. At the end of the day I enjoyed this bootcamp a lot, thanks to the many valuable talks and insights that addressed a rather complex topic - the mindset bridge between being a Developer and becoming a CTO - with a fresh, innovative approach. Thanks a lot to Codemotion for hosting the course, I'll do my best to be there for the next bootcamps as well!