YOW! CTO Summit 2018 Melbourne Day 1 - Wed, Dec 5

Working at Netflix

Intermediate Talk

Netflix is a company that innovates on not only technology, but also company culture. The Netflix culture deck, now a memo, has had over 18 million views, and describes an environment of "freedom and responsibility", "context not control", and "highlight aligned, loosely coupled". In this session, Brendan will summarize the Netflix culture, and describe personal experiences of it in practice from the viewpoint of an engineer. Takeaways include aspects that may be useful to adopt at other companies.

Target Audience

CTOs, Leaders and decision makers

Brendan Gregg
Sr. Performance Architect

Brendan Gregg is an industry expert in computing performance and cloud computing. He is a senior performance architect at Netflix, where he does performance design, evaluation, analysis, and tuning. He is the author of multiple technical books including Systems Performance published by Prentice Hall, and received the USENIX LISA Award for Outstanding Achievement in System Administration. He has also worked as a kernel engineer, and as a performance lead on storage and cloud products. Brendan has created performance analysis tools included in multiple operating systems, and visualizations and methodologies for performance analysis, including flame graphs.

Question for Speaker?
Please rate Working at Netflix

Colab: Leveraging platforms to achieve speed at scale

Advanced Talk

Scaling agile engineering organisations is hard.

Today's truly agile organisations are built on small autonomous teams delivering value to customers. Autonomy and empowerment are great cultural traits but they have a dark side at scale -- they can create a lot of duplication and waste. How can organisations get economies of scale without undermining the very culture that they were built on?

This talk is about how REA Group is taking a product approach to our internal platform to drive speed at scale. Our platform is called Colab and we are applying tried product techniques like brand, product lifecycle & customer satisfaction metrics to develop it. Importantly, we're taking an approach that embraces autonomous teams and customer proximity so none of our cultural values are undermined.

I'll focus on the key concept of treating internal platforms as products. I'll tell the story of how REA is doing this and provide some tips for listeners grappling with the same problem in their organisations.

Target Audience

CTOs and engineering leaders of scaling organisations


REA Context

How agile organisations scale, and what hurts at scale

Platform as a Product

Using brand to cristalize the story

Platform lifecycle


Platform teams vs Product teams

Wrap up

Learning Outcome

Tips on how to use a product approach to developing internal platforms

Tomas Varsavsky
Chief Engineer
REA Group

Tomas Varsavsky is REA Group’s Chief Engineer. He’s responsible for setting the strategic direction for the company’s engineering teams across Australia and Asia. Tomas leads centralised teams around data, security, enterprise technology, infrastructure and architecture.

Tomas has more than 17 years’ experience and prior to joining REA Group, was a Principal Consultant with ThoughtWorks where he worked with many iconic organisations including AXA, Lonely Planet and ANZ on areas such as agile methodologies, Software Development, IT strategy and IT architecture.

Tomas lives in Melbourne with his family and is a keen cyclist and tennis player. He holds a Bachelor of Computer Science and Honours in Computer Engineering from the University of Melbourne

Question for Speaker?
Please rate Colab: Leveraging platforms to achieve speed at scale

Grads are your future - it's time to invest!

Intermediate Talk

How awesome would it be if you could easily hire switched on developers who are highly engaged, hungry to learn, challenge the status quo, drive positive cultural change and are not burdened with skepticism from former employers? Starting a graduate program may sound like a lot of hard work, but even a low-fi implementation can produce far-reaching benefits.

In this session, you will hear about SEEK's journey towards a successful and sustainable graduate program. Learn why and how we got started, how it has evolved and the unanticipated benefits our graduates have brought. Along the way, we will discuss practical steps to ensure your graduate intake is diverse, your graduates get targeted, practical technical training and you are building an inclusive culture to support their career development.

Target Audience

Technical Leaders looking to establish new or strengthen existing graduate programs

  • Running a recruitment campaign
  • Assessing and selecting candidates
  • Setting up and execution of a technical bootcamp
  • Team rotations and the graduate program
  • Establishing coaching & mentoring
  • The unanticipated benefit of the program
Learning Outcome
  • The benefits a strong graduate program can bring to your organisation
  • The structure of the program
  • How to get started and run a grad program, with practical steps from recruitment to completion.
  • How to strengthen the diversity of your graduate intake
Michelle Gleeson
Technical Practices Lead

I am a software developer with a few decades experience and I'm passionate about growing people and teams, building strong cultures, coaching better technical practices and driving continuous improvement. 

Question for Speaker?
Please rate Grads are your future - it's time to invest!

How to survive and thrive in Tech Leadership through an Agile transformation

Advanced Talk

This talk provides insights into the challenges faced by Technology leaders in the Enterprise wide Agile Transformation Bankwest is undergoing. It's a frank account of the goals, success, but most importantly unexpected side effects and lessons learned to date. It will help anyone going through or planning a major transformation and faced with leading engineering or technology teams.

Target Audience

Technology leaders at all levels

  1. Brief Outline of Bankwest & it's business strategy, technology & operating context
  2. Brief outline of the Bankwest operating model - the principles, components and organisation wide cadence
  3. Deep dive into 5 lessons learned
    1. Enterprise Agile vs IT Agile - the differences, constraints and what to expect;
    2. Cults & Common Sense- will reference some academic literature (Cialdini) to talk about hierarchical mindsets, deference to Authority and how this played out in our Agile adoption.
    3. Sunlight - what it really feels like, and what you find when you shine a light on a transparent structure. What we found, how it felt, and how you can prepare for it. It will include the key differences between leading Tribes and Chapters, & order taking vs order making and strategic planning in leading platforms.
    4. Structure & Governance - why and how the basics of leadership and management (planning, governance, architecture guardrails, stakeholder management, communication, change management) are the keys to moving fast; I'll share lessons in what happens when this is missing, mis-conceptions and how its worked. It will include the Bankwest organisational cadence and process , importance of Experimentation Data and Science in the process.
    5. Superficial Ceremonies - will dive into some of the anti-patterns seen in showcases, standups, unblocking, retro's etc - what to look for and what's really behind them (culture!), including examples and what to do.
  4. Summary - wrap will include business successes, technical platform challenges, and quickly summarise and recap the lessons/takeaways
Learning Outcome
  • Insights and tips into managing a Tech function during a transformation
  • Knowledge of Enterprise Agile operating models and Bankwest's implementation
  • Why the fundamentals of Tech leadership are still so critical, but often overlooked
  • How uncomfortable Agile leadership can be
Sean Langton

Sean Langton's career started in Software Engineering, at a start up consultancy rolling out what we today call ‘agile’ software engineering methods to end user organisations; from there he moved into developing software for an Investment Bank before migrating to Australia. After a stint in the mining sector, Sean returned to Financial Services with Bankwest where he's led the Software Engineering team for 4 years. 


Sean is passionate about the role Technology can and will play to improve Bankwest's business and customer experiences, and more broadly the role it plays in improving society. Outside of work he sits on a couple of advisory boards to help grow and bring diversity to the tech community in Western Australia, and in his spare time keeps fit by running and exercising his dog.

Question for Speaker?
Please rate How to survive and thrive in Tech Leadership through an Agile transformation

Scaling mobile app development at REA

Intermediate Talk
As REA's technology capability has grown to over 500 people across many teams, its mobile development capability has been largely centralised in a few teams. In a world where almost every new product needs a presence in our mobile apps, we've been making changes to allow us to build for mobile at scale.
In this talk, Prasanna and Stewart will address some of the challenges faced as we've scaled, that are accentuated when building mobile apps as opposed to web. We'll share REA's experience meeting these challenges by moving away from a single mobile team to a federated model where mobile development happens across many teams. That model required a new approach to the architecture of both our mobile apps and their companion APIs.
Target Audience

Technical and delivery leaders

  • Challenges of a central mobile team at REA
  • Delivering software across multiple teams in a federated model
  • Using a companion API or Backend For Frontend to drive the mobile experience
  • Building apps with a platform mindset
Learning Outcome

You'll come away with an understanding of the unique challenges developing mobile apps at scale from our experience at REA, and how we are overcoming those challenges through a combination of a federated delivery model and an appropriate mobile app and architecture strategy.

Stewart Gleadow
Sr. Tech Lead
REA Group

Stewart Gleadow is a senior technical lead working as part of the architecture team across REA Group's products, with a focus on their mobile app capability, looking at the organisational and technical challenges of building software at scale. He's been involved in mobile app development for 9 years, including the very first realestate.com.au iPhone app in 2010.

Previous to working in software architecture at REA, Stewart has held engineering management, tech lead and consulting roles at a number of well known Australian companies. He's worked with a number of high profile Australian companies helping to create quality mobile applications, APIs and build high performing development teams.

Prasanna Gopalakrishnan
Technical lead
REA Group

I am a Technical lead at REA Group. I am working on making mobile software easier to deliver at scale. 

Question for Speaker?
Please rate Scaling mobile app development at REA

Keynote: Scaling Birchbox: Lessons Learned

Intermediate Talk

In 2011 I joined Birchbox, a startup with a few thousand customers, no technology team, and a small office stacked high with beauty products. Over the ensuing years we scaled the business to more than a million active subscribers, serving 6 countries, out of 4 offices. In this talk I’ll discuss some of the lessons I learned building the engineering, product and data teams, and scaling the technology.

Target Audience

CTOs, Leaders and decision makers

Liz Crawford

Engineering, product, and data science leader with a background in artificial intelligence and entrepreneurship. Experienced in building and scaling teams, customer experiences, and software. 
Passionate about creating innovative products that people love, delivering measurable results, and building teams that take pride and joy in their work. 

Currently based in Sydney and available for short and long-term consulting engagements locally and internationally.

Question for Speaker?
Please rate Keynote: Scaling Birchbox: Lessons Learned

Keynote: Manufacturing High Performance

Intermediate Talk

Since Taylor's theories of scientific management in the early 20th century, most management has focused on improving performance by changing behavior, and changing behavior by changing motivation. Turns out, people are more creatures of habit than they are of motivation or calculation. Psychological safety, engagement, and caring about people are all important for the leader of an organization, including a technical organization. To take that a step further and get a high performance team, most engineering organizations need to be de-bureaucratized. Most attempts to improve engineering efficiency focus on process. That's difficult and boring. Fortunately, you can get better results by making actual engineering decisions that restructure organizational decision-making, turning normal teams into high performance teams.

Target Audience

CTOs, Leaders and decision makers

Casey Rosenthal

Casey Rosenthal is CTO at Backplane. Previously, he was an executive manager and senior architect, where he managed teams tackling big data, architected solutions to difficult problems, and trained others to do the same. He seeks opportunities to leverage his experience with distributed systems, artificial intelligence, translating novel algorithms and academia into working models, and selling a vision of the possible to clients and colleagues alike. For fun, Casey models human behavior using personality profiles in Ruby, Erlang, Elixir, Prolog, and Scala.

Question for Speaker?
Please rate Keynote: Manufacturing High Performance

‘Leadership’ to ‘First Time Parent’ to ‘Working Parent’…....lets make this better!

Intermediate Talk

Sharing some true stories about the journey of ‘Leadership’ to ‘First Time Parent’ to ‘Working Parent’ and all the bits in between. I have recently been through this journey myself and want to share some of my experiences as well as other leaders, both mums and dads, who have recently been through this experience, with the view to making this better for the next people to go on this incredible journey.

Our community talks a lot about what companies should provide women once they have had a baby, however I believe we are missing the crucial stages; before/during/after, where our new parents really need help. I am going to talk about some recent experiences of becoming new parents in our industry and what other areas we are not talking enough about as leaders of our industry to make this journey better for all involved.

I will reflect on what I believe are the four key stages of this journey and share stories, with the view to opening a discussion about some other topics for us to start improving as a community.

  1. Pre-pregnancy

  2. During pregnancy

  3. Parental Leave

  4. Becoming a working parent

Target Audience



With the increased awareness of diversity and inclusiveness growing across the world, I would like to share some real-life stories of how we move from work life balance to work & life becoming inclusive of each other, what it has been like for new parents in our industry on their journey of becoming a mums and dads.

I will talk through the key 4 stages I see the journey being broken down into and talk through some of the things that as leaders in your organisation you want to think about if you have the right support mechanisms in place.

A reflection point throughout this talk, is if you yourself as a leader have the tools and confidence to support some of these topics and are the leaders that you look after set up for success for the same conversations with their team members?.

A lot of the things I am going to talk about today are currently labelled as ‘mental health’ which people are nervous to open up about as they could be labelled as someone with a mental health problem, which our society is still not supportive enough about today. I would like everyone to think about these points as our ‘Emotional Wellbeing’ which gives them a much more positive label so hopefully over time this change in label will become easier to talk about.

The things I am going to talk through today might be personal topics that you don’t normally talk to your employees about. I do however encourage you to think about how the person going through these things feels. If you feel uncomfortable with the topics (IVF, Breastfeeding, Anxiety etc.) imagine how they may feel talking to their line manager about them or their peer groups! Lets just try and make one of these easier to talk about in the workforce.

I don’t have all the answers to these challenging topics, all I hope to do today is to increase awareness of the things as leaders we should be thinking about and working towards improving our support processes and tools around these topics. We have come a really long way in making our world more diverse and inclusive, however I hope to highlight today how much work we still have ahead of us and I hope that we can keep the conversations going as it is really important to support our team members through all stages of their lives.

The four stages of the journey that I am going to talk through today are:

  1. Pre-pregnancy - so many emotions, but most of it is hidden for both males and females...

  2. During pregnancy - anxiety, stress, confusion, scared, let’s talk about emotional health

  3. Parental Leave - mums and dads need different support during this period

  4. Becoming a working parent - for the new parents and their peer group at work

Work life balance is no longer a thing, advancement in technology has moved this needle from a conversation about balance, to a conversation about successful integration. Let’s talk about how technology is making these 4 stages of becoming a parent harder and how we can use technology to make it a little easier.

Learning Outcome

From this talk I hope you walk away with at least one of the below points:

  1. An increased awareness of what it is like for people in our industry to go on the new parenthood journey

  2. Topics to take back to your organisation to reflect on how well you are supporting parents in all 4 stages of the journey

  3. A conversation starter with your leaders that report to you, how ready and capable are they to support someone who may bring one or more of things topics up with them?

  4. A greater understanding that we still have a long way to go in supporting new parents through the journey, so hopefully you take away an action plan of how you can make a small dent in this area in some way

Tanya Windscheffel
Platform Delivery Manager

A natural leader and coach of people and teams to become the best they can be. 

Question for Speaker?
Please rate ‘Leadership’ to ‘First Time Parent’ to ‘Working Parent’…....lets make this better!

Moving from a monolith to a distributed monolith - a cautionary tale on adopting microservices

Intermediate Talk

This talk is a case study of our architectural evolution over the last 2 years.

Our start-up had licensed a customised warehouse management system in order to demonstrate our innovative new business model. The WMS had a traditional 3-tier architecture based on Java and SQL server, and was lightning fast with most of the business logic encapuslated in stored procedures.

Out our start-up we needed to be able to "test and learn" - ie rapidly develop and deploy new features and test them in the market with our customers. Based on the feedback we would identify tweaks to the business model, and fine-tune the functionality that our customers wanted.

We had a launch date 5 months in future, a need to scale rapidly, growing the team from 2 devs to 20 within 8 weeks. And we needed to be able to work in parallel on multiple features. Whilst ensuring that the application was secure, performant, and reliable.

The answer, according to a bunch of experts, was to adopt microservices.

Three years later, we have a suite of secure, scalable, and resilient applications running in AWS. We deploy to Production multiple times a day, and our MTTR is less than 30 minutes.

And we have Services. Some of them are "micro".

But reflecting on what we learned in that period, there are a lot of things that we wished we had done differently.

In this talk I'll walk you through the evolution of our architecture, explain some of the choices, and highlight what we learned, and discuss what we would do differently if faced with the same decisions today.

This case study talks about the last 9 months of our start-up where we went from “no team, and limited functionality” – to launching a successful and thriving business backed by completely custom trading platform and fulfilment engine.

Target Audience

CTOs, senior technical leadership, and senior developers, and people interested in applying evolutionary architectures, in their own context, especially those from smaller companies or startups.


5 mins Introduction & scene setting

5 mins Describe how we decided to deal withe Monolith

5 mins Describe the challenges of having too many interdependent services

5 mins Discuss the shift in mindset between designing for the Cloud, and how we used some ideas from Domain Driven Design to simplify our architecture.

5 mins Summary and how to apply these ideas in their own context.

5 mins Questions

Learning Outcome

The audience should leave the talk with the following clear learning outcomes.

  • Clarity in understanding how start-ups need a different mindset and approach to architecture and design
  • Tips on how to apply DDD to their business architecture
  • Ideas on how to map their business processes to the underlying applications and services
  • And lastly, they'll have a clear understanding of some things NOT to do!
Nish Mahanty
Head of Development

I am Head of Development at irexchange with over 18 years experience working in IT, having worked in several start-ups and consultancies before long stints at MYOB, SEEK and nabCapital.

I am passionate about building high performing teams in order to deliver great business outcomes. Having experienced several "death march" mega-projects, I was convinced that there had to be a better way of delivering software, based on valuing team members as individuals. Agile and Lean were a natural fit, and I have spent the last 15 years driving Agile transformations within companies.

I have been fortunate to have worked with a range of experts from across the Agile, Lean, and Kanban communities, and love the challenge of adapting what I have learned to each new business situation.

Question for Speaker?
Please rate Moving from a monolith to a distributed monolith - a cautionary tale on adopting microservices

Lessons from a security incident

Intermediate Talk

When you experience a breach as a tech organisation, it is how you respond, and what you learn from it, that matters most.

We invested heavily in security at PageUp, even going through the ISO 27001 certification process, including having a very active Information Security Governance Committee and a robust security incident response plan -- however -- until May, a security incident was something that you prepared for, but always happened to other organisations.

These days, cyber attacks are a fact of life: it is now a question of when, not if, they will happen to your organisation. That mindset switch has many implications to culture, technology and investment.

We often hear about security incidents from industry experts, academics and commentators in the media. This is a valuable opportunity to share my personal experience with my peers. In this talk, I’ll take you through the key lessons we have learned as an organisation and how we’re implementing this mindset switch.

Target Audience

CTOs will benefit from this talk. If you want to know how to approach breach scenarios from someone who has experienced it first hand, then this is the talk for you.



  • Overview of the security incident
  • Our team’s experience of the breach in the following days, weeks and months
  • Lessons we’ve learned
  • How we are shifting our security architecture, culture and processes in the post-incident world.
Learning Outcome

Attendees will gain an insight into the security incident response process from a CTO’s perspective and understand the lessons learnt.

Tal Rotbart
PageUp People

CTO to CIO at PageUp People. ex-Development Practices Manager at SEEK. Serial entrepreneur & software delivery daredevil. Opinions are my own & may make you angry.

Question for Speaker?
Please rate Lessons from a security incident

Code Review-Review is the Manager's Job

Intermediate Talk

In a modern development team the code review process is a critical and high value activity - but what is the managers role in it?

In this talk I'll argue that the developers are the players in the game and managers are part coach and part referee. We'll explore how to find the balance between reasonable supervision and micromanagement and what the daily habits you should build as to engage with the process.

Target Audience

Tech leads through to VP Engineering


It's an updated and evolved version of https://hecate.co/blog/code-review-review-is-the-managers-job

Learning Outcome

Ideally the audience will have a stronger appreciation for the code review process and come away with some concrete activities to better engage with it as a manager.

John Barton

Founder and CEO of Hecate - GitHub apps to help engineering managers do their job better.

Former VP Engineering at 99designs and Dev Manager at Envato.

Question for Speaker?
Please rate Code Review-Review is the Manager's Job

Keynote: Supporting Constant Change

Intermediate Talk

Everything in IT changes constantly: business, technology, practices, and so on. This keynote investigates techniques that allow architects and developers to build systems that support rather than avoid change.

The only constant in IT is change: Business practices change, tools and frameworks evolve, and wholly new tools and techniques appear on a regular basis. How can developers develop and architects architect in an environment like this?

This keynote highlights techniques to support constant change, including evolutionary architecture, immutable infrastructure, coding techniques, and better ways to gather requirements. I also cover flexible governance models, evolutionary data, and adaptability. This keynote covers the breadth of modern software development, packed with advice on how to build systems that embrace rather than avoid change.

Target Audience


Neal Ford
Director, Software Architect

Neal Ford is Director, Software Architect, and Meme Wrangler at ThoughtWorks, a global IT consultancy with a focus on end-to-end software development and delivery. He is also the designer and developer of applications, articles, video/DVD presentations, and author and/or editor of an increasingly large number of books spanning a variety of subjects and technologies, including the most recent Presentation Patterns. His professional focus includes designing and building of large-scale enterprise applications. He is also an internationally acclaimed speaker, speaking at over 300 developer conferences worldwide, delivering more than 2000 presentations. You can email Neal at nford at thoughtworks.com.


Question for Speaker?
Please rate Keynote: Supporting Constant Change