2015 in review...2016 here I come

This post is inspired by quite a few great posts like this one by Katherine Daniels and Lara Hogan

2015 was a year of lots of changes and lots of growing for me, both professionally and personally. It also had a lot of firsts for me.

Going remote

Late in 2014, I announced to Sendgrid that I am about to move to South Florida where my husband has been working for months. Sendgrid, while distributed in multiple offices, always had all its employees in one of these offices, no truly remote employees. So this was new territory and it was a new challenge given how I am usually collaborating with more than just the Operations team.

After a year, while I do not declare it an absolute success, i feel that I would not still be working at Sendgrid if it weren't for my team's and managers' support. It is easy to declare someone a 'good employee', with all the different meanings different companies embue that term with. But the support I got from the team was absolutely crucial to my ability to continue providing value to the company.

First Tech conference

People still get surprised when they hear this but until June of 2015, I had not been to a single tech conference. A combination of being permanently busy, being a mom, moving across country more than a couple of times
have led to having no time to properly plan any tech conference attendance. Finally I took the plunge and I picked Monitorama as my first one.

The talks were great. One talk I couldn't stop referring to since returning was "Engineering happiness" By Laura Thompson of Mozilla. I could see myself, post and present co workers in the examples she provided on how a happy engineer slowly becomes less happy with the status quo. One of the first things I did once I returned to work, was share that video with my team lead and engineering leader at the time. I felt it was important to share her advice and to internalize it.

However, conferences are not just about the talks. While I learned a lot in those, I found the hallway track the real gem of that trip and the reason that conference has left lasting memories with me.

I got to meet lots of people I had been following on twitter for a while that I already learned a lot from, and looked up to. I had a LOT of fun talking about being a woman in the ops community with Katherine Daniels and Jennifer Davis. Who are about to publish a book I am looking forward to. Another set of conversations that were very educational and have pushed some of my 2016 plans was talking about team leadership and management challenges with Roy Rapaport of Netflix.

There are too many people to list here that I enjoyed meeting and talking to at Monitorama. And a lot of those conversations shaped and guided things I have done the rest of the year and things I have planned for 2016.
I cannot recommend enough how great this conference was. Hat tip to Jason Dixon for creating that great environment and all the #hugops

Blog and blog posts

I started this blog early in 2015. It was not the first time I start a blog and I was not sure if I was gonna keep it up. But then I wrote a blog post for my company and I decided that maybe I will want to write more.

Yes part of that is building personal brand but I was also sometimes frustrated by talking about important things in Devops or in database architecture in 140 character pieces. Yes I did start the blog early in 2015 but it was a blog post by Lara Hogan about celebrating our achievements, conversations with my boss in late 2014 and a personal conversation with Jennifer Davis that convinced me that I do have things to say and that my experience so far at Sendgrid could be beneficial to others who are just starting as DBAs.

Most of what I wrote this year was technical or 'lessons learned' in the roller coaster of managing databases at a fast growing company. But I also wrote one post that is near and dear to my heard about burnout that got me to face how much I needed to take care of me at the same level of commitment I was taking care of servers and databases.

2016 Plans

  • Give a tech conference talk. I submitted my first ever abstract . Don't know yet if it will be accepted but I am excited to go to PLCME for the first time nonetheless
  • Take better care of me. We hired our second DBA at Sendgrid late 2015. The signs of burnout on me were clear. Nothing is clearer when one performance review says "I fear that Silvia works too hard. She needs to take care of herself" 😊. With onboarding the new member, I hope to be able to split the never ending list of things we need to get done in 2016
  • A deeper focus on architecture and automation. I have spent a huge portion of the last few years working with engineers on schema design and bringing the first step of database configuration management to fruition. But a mature infrastructure is more than just configuration management and I hope to be able to grow more skills in larger system design, making the database layer more robust and a true PaaS layer
  • Write more technical blog posts. We do so much at Sendgrid. I think we can share lots of lessons learned and I hope I can help with that.
  • Get closer to becoming Staff Engineer.
  • Much more...
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