Hi readers! We are Jesus and Nico from Celonis. This is the first entry in a series describing our journey to become Speakers at IT Events to evangelize how Engineers can save the planet.
But first of all, let us introduce ourselves, we're just two Software Developers, who recently, prepared and delivered a talk for a couple of major events: Codemotion'23 and JOTB23.
Because the journey was exciting for us, we think it is a good idea to share our experience, since then we can encourage others to give it a try too.
We hope you enjoy this reading, and now let's start with the journey.
I remember how, before having kids, I liked to attend major events. I remember attending events like Codemotion, JOTB, or QCon (just to mention a few of them) brought up so much value to me in the past. First of all, they are a special place to learn from talented developers, secondly, you can make contacts and meet new people, always with a big sense of community.
Because the community gave me a lot of valuable knowledge and contacts, I always felt I was in debt with the community. That is why I was a speaker at local meetups, I recorded podcasts and I'm very active on Twitter and GitHub.
And after 4 years off from the major events, I thought this year would be the year to retake my attendance at events. But this time, I wanted to be on the "other side" as a speaker. And my main target was J On The Beach.
So I talked with my Engineering Manager (Victor Martín) and I told him something like "Victor, I'm thinking of submitting a talk to JOTB based on Trunk Based Development, it's time to go back to the community. And I'm thinking of submitting it to represent Celonis, what do you think?".
But Victor and Jorge Ferrer suggested to me something different "Why not submit a talk about using process mining to save the planet?". I loved that idea! Even though I'm not yet an expert in Process Mining, and this is a topic I'm still learning, I knew I'd receive support to create an amazing talk. Honestly, I can't think of a better place to receive support to create a talk based on that topic than Celonis. For two main reasons. We're the leaders in Process Mining, and Sustainability is a core value of Celonis.
Finally, my two talks were accepted by JOTB, but I had to choose only one. And I think I made a good choice.
As I mentioned before, I'm not yet an expert in Process Mining, so the talk had a high learning curve for me. Since I needed to explore, learn and dive into Process Mining (and for that, the videos and courses from Will van deer Alst were an excellent starting point) to not get frustrated in my journey of creating content. Then I started focusing on the storytelling, about what is the problem I'd like to present, and why Process Mining can be a solution.
Probably not being an expert, helped me later explain concepts like "Petri Nets, Play In/Out, or Event Logs" in a very simple way. But I have to recognize, when I started focusing only on Process Mining, there were weeks of not creating anything, then it was hard for me to deal with that feeling of not producing anything.
Those that know me, know that I'm a very big fan of eXtreme Programming. That Agile mindset is aiming to work in very short cycles, to reduce the time to receive feedback. I started having regular feedback sessions with Victor Martín as part of our one 2 ones. It was good to have a second point of view, to help me with the storytelling, and of course, we identified I was going to need support from people from Marketing to give a more professional look to the slides.
Then when Victor and I thought the slides were good enough to share with a small focus group, we shared them internally with a group to collect more feedback. It was a good experience for me, it took a week to collect and adapt the slides to that feedback, and it worth it.
For me, having dry runs was crucial since, at JOTB, the talk would be in English. So it was important to me to feel comfortable, and run as many dry runs as possible. Dry runs are good, basically for two main reasons, first of all, it helps you to get fluent with the talk, and secondly, you can collect immediate feedback to improve, not only the talk but also the presenting skills.
My first dry-run was so positive, attended only by colleagues from my squad, and they were on my same side. We were all at the moment totally new to Process Mining, so they enjoyed the talk, but they were not able to provide me feedback on the technical side of the talk.
The second dry-run was a little bit different, it included people from other squads, and also I invited a Process Mining Ph.D. student. He gave me very strong but honest feedback. That helped me a lot. It was game-changing in the way I was preparing the talk, since that feedback impacted, not only the Story Telling but also the technical aspects I wanted to present.
After that dry-run is when I started to think I was ready for the talk.
I ran some more dry runs and studied more about Process Mining and also Sarah Voight helped me with the final design. The outcome was impressive. And it was when Jorge Ferrer asked me about presenting the talk, not only at JOTB but also at Codemotion
...... and I could only say "Yes".
Due to my situation at home (two very small kids) and because Codemotion is taking part in the same week of JOTB, I could not stay longer than some hours per day. To ensure that a speaker was able to stay available for the audience the whole event, Jorge suggested that I invite a colleague to deliver the talk together. Then I meet Nico.
And it was like a "Dating App" perfect Match. I'm so passionate, but Nico is more quiet, so I'd say one complements the other.
Immediately we agreed to run the talk in Spanish to make the process of meeting each other easier. Also, we divided the talk into blocks for each one. It was important to share the ownership (again, another eXtreme Programming Principle) we both must believe in the talk. And I think we made it.
But you can think "This is ok, but what about your experience delivering the talk? What are your feelings after some months?" and that's totally fine. We have to announce, this is the first post of a series of posts. In the next posts, we'll explain the experience of delivering the talk in two major events, and also our feelings about how it goes.
We can say, this first post is "how it started", and in the following posts we'll see "how it is going". For sure it has not ended. From my personal point of view (Jesus) I loved the process of preparing the talk, definitively is something I'd like to repeat in the near future, I felt supported by my company and by my colleagues. Probably not everybody can say the same.
And this is the purpose of those posts, encouraging other people to do the same, that is the idea. Sharing our experiences as speakers probably you can be jealous enough to try.
Blog contributors include:
Jesus Maria Villar, Senior Software Engineer
Nicolas Robledo Mamblona, Senior Software Engineer