I get asked a fair bit when speaking at events what it's like, how it works with my job - I thought I'd go a little bit into that here.
Last week I gave my 15th talk of 2017. Some have been at user groups, others at conferences. Some have been given in the morning in Nottinghamshire and the evening of the very same day in Essex. While I might give the same talk a few times to different groups, each presentation of a talk is unique and varied, to better tailor the content to the audience. I've spoken about BDD, security, front-end build processes, deployments and given workshops on console apps and continuous delivery pipelines.
It's no secret that I got my job with Viva IT by being involved with the PHP East Midlands (PHPem) user group. I'm one of the organisers for the group and when Lewis heard that I was looking for a new role, he encouraged me to send across a CV and have a chat.
One of the things we discussed when talking about me joining Viva IT was a community aspect to my role. As a company, Viva IT were already very active in the community, they'd supported, sponsored, assisted and ran events for PHPem and one of the core beliefs of the company is that community and giving back is key. You don't have to change the world to make a difference, start local. The first time I got involved with Viva IT was the year before I joined at a Symfony workshop they'd put on for free where people got an introduction to how to use Symfony to build web apps.
So, part of my job role is "Community Evangelist". In that role, I'm not here to evangelise the products we make as a company like you may see other companies do. Our products aren't developer focused. The role is about me being involved with communities and bring in community spirit, knowledge, energy & enthusiasm. Being a presence (and wearing an orange hoodie!) and a face for a company that I really believe in.
I'm very lucky in that Viva IT supports me in speaking and events. Developers at the company have a personal training budget each year, and we're able to use it to pay for conferences, training and things that help us grow, not only as developers, but people as well. My personal development plan involves rebuilding my confidence in both technical and non-technical abilities, improving my communication skills (a big one being talk slower!) and being more visible in communities.
So not only is the speaking about raising the presence and image of the company, it also goes back to one of the core beliefs of the company: "community and giving back is key" - we're a company built by developers and if we can make the development world that little bit better, everyone will benefit from that.
When people ask me why I do it, why I wear the bright orange hoodie, why I spend the time writing talks and preparing new learning or training material, the answer is easy: I have a fantastic job. I have a company that supports me to be a better person (as well as a better developer and leader) and I truly believe in what we do and how we do it.