Business Interviews

Developer Heroes: Silvana the Elastigirl on Women in Tech

Recently there’s been a lot of discussion on the role of women in tech. There’s a rising concern about the stereotypical views towards women in the nearshore services market, as the recent article by our partner Belatrix also shows.

Business Community Interviews

Developer Heroes: Amanda the Iron Woman.

Who? Developer hero Amanda Folsom, Developer relations manager

Cross-team communication is incredibly difficult…

[Developer Economics] Hello! Tell us about your role and what you do:

[Amanda Folsom]

I’m a Developer Relations (DevRel) Manager at Nexmo, which is a fancy way of saying I work on an awesome team who helps developers succeed.

What kind of languages do you work with?

DevRel is sort of interesting because I have to know a little bit about a lot of languages and frameworks, but most of my own projects are written in PHP using the Laravel framework. Day to day, I may touch some JavaScript and some Ruby with a little C# sprinkled in.

Developers all over the world are currently taking the SlashData survey. Will you be left out?

How did you get started?

My dad was a developer in the 90s so I grew up around computers. We built my first computer together in grade school and I discovered HTML and JavaScript (the early edition). I eventually moved on to PHP and, at the risk of dating myself here, made a Neopets clone. I still have the original codebase — it was written for PHP4.

How much do you think developers need to focus on specific frameworks or languages these days?

Over the last few years there’s been a heavy shift to framework-driven development. It’s common to see a specific framework or series of tools listed in job posts now. I think it’s important that developers focus on a specific set of tooling as that domain expertise is important, but it’s also important to keep tabs on what’s happening outside of their chosen framework or tool chain.

How much are you involved in buying decisions (in terms of technology platforms etc.) at you company?

As involved as I want to be. I have the freedom to pick and choose tools we use but I’m happy to let other people pick tools that work for them.

Do you think that there is a still a separation between developers and other business departments (e.g. marketing etc.)

Definitely. Cross-team communication is incredibly difficult and historically engineering teams and marketing/sales teams have different goals. Marketing and sales want to sell something (sometimes things that don’t exist yet) and I think it’s hard for them to understand why that makes developers uncomfortable. On the flip side, I think it’s hard for developers to understand how sales cycles work. Sometimes it takes months to close a deal, and the features that were promised may very well be available by the time the customer is ready to sign up.

Have you worked both Agency and Client-side?

Yep! Before working for companies I ran my own consultancy.

What are clients asking for right now in the world of cloud communications?

A lot of folks are just using SMS for 2FA, status updates, etc., but I’m starting to see people use IVR for more contextual phone menus. For example, if a customer calls in from a known phone number, you can look up their record and see if there are any outstanding issues related to their account. People are also looking for other ways to interact with their customers via mobile applications beyond sending and receiving texts and calls. In-app messaging is growing fast.

What projects are you working on right now?

For work? Mostly client libraries for our APIs and some data dashboards. In my spare time I manage a DNSBL and make various dinky web apps.

How helpful do you find developer surveys? [e..g. SlashData report – which seeks to help developers to make better business decisions, with salary benchmarks, trends, programming languages, framework choice etc etc]

They’re hit or miss. Some surveys are very well done while others have an obvious lean in favor of a specific tool or language. Salary benchmarks are also hit or miss because there’s a disparity between large company salaries and startup salaries. There are people who expect $200k+ at a bootstrapped startup simply because one of the large players would give them that much. At the same time, many of these salary surveys don’t factor in other benefits some of the startup folks get like equity, catered lunches, off-sites, and so on.

Do you think developers sometimes undersell themselves?

Absolutely. Imposter syndrome is alive and well in this industry, and people are overworking themselves to stay competitive and keep their skills sharp while actively stating that it’s not enough. The reality is that if you’re scheduled to work 40 hours and find yourself needing to work 80 there’s a time management problem somewhere. Either at the individual level or the management level.

So where do you go to get tech-related news?

A combination of Twitter, Hacker News, various Slack groups, some email newsletters, and mailing lists.

What’s going up and what’s going down in your industry?

Oddly enough, voice comms are trending upward. We’re seeing a lot of SMS activity still, but more people are starting to include voice services in their applications too.

What do you think the future looks like in terms of IaaS vs PaaS vs Containers vs Serverless?

This tweet about sums it up for me:

Right now we have a ton of tools designed to help people scale and distribute their applications, but everyone is still running into scaling issues. With serverless/IaaS/PaaS architecture, you run the risk of vendor lock-in with an inability to port your code outside of a specific platform. Containers solve some of the portability problems while introducing other problems with storage and performance. There’s no doubt that many people still find utility in these technologies, but many organizations seem to be transitioning back to bare metal servers or hybrid clouds.

Are you working on the projects you would like to work on?


Do you have a favourite superhero?

Iron Man. I have a collection of 1st edition Iron Man comics :).

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