Tell me about your role at Amadeus
Anthony: It shouldn’t come as a surprise that I’m a… Developer advocate! I work on the Amadeus for Developers program. TL;DR: an Open API program offering travel data and services.
Our team can be described as a startup in a big corporation, roles are not strongly defined. That’s why I have two hats: product manager for our APIs, and dev advocate. I joined the program at the very beginning, where the main need was to build the APIs. That’s why I took over the role of product manager, working with our internal developers on the design, the governance and the development of our APIs. Part of the job was to ensure that we had all the legal and business agreements to publish new APIs.
When our MVP was ready, I focused more on the relationship with the developers. My main role is to help developers the best I can, either directly (answering technical questions on StackOverflow, following up with them on their projects, etc.) or by writing guides, SDKs and documentation.
My job in dev rel is to make sure that the developer is kept in mind.
Like many dev advocates, I wear lots of hats during the day. I help our internal developers by improving the user experience of our portal, following what’s going on in the community, writing guides, blog articles, code samples, SDKs and contributing to open source projects (when I have time…). For the evangelist part, I’m participating in internal and external events to promote our program. Our team has organized and participated in a couple of hackathons. This is one of my favorite activities, I love the energy and the motivations that all participants have! The challenge is to answer all their questions, to help them improve their ideas and to support them to deliver a good pitch.
In the end, what motivates me to wake up every morning and to go to work with a big smile is to know that during my day, by sharing a bit of my knowledge, I’m helping developers all over the world. That’s what dev rel is all about, isn’t it? A bit of everything!
What brought you to this point in your career?
Anthony: A lot of random things, to be honest. I was a bit of a lost, average student. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do after high school. I had some basic knowledge in development so I decided to leave home when I was seventeen years old to go to the sunny French Riviera (Nice) to study computer science. I went to a technical college where I really got into software development, doing many small personal projects. Two years later, I joined an engineering school focusing on dev and architecture. I had the chance to work on very different projects like indoor geo-location, working on the first versions of iOS and Android, playing with the first version of Google app engine, and discovering Ruby on Rails.
After graduation, I joined Amadeus (an IT provider for the travel industry) as a Java and Ruby developer to work on an airfare management system. I really enjoyed those two years; I had the freedom to rewrite old pieces of Java code in Ruby while working closely with the quality teams. I learned a lot about engineering practices (CI, TDD, branching models etc.) and quality. At some point I had the opportunity to give internal training about engineering practices. I think that’s when I realized that even if I loved doing very techy stuff, I loved helping other people to grow and to learn just as much.
A few months later, Amadeus created an internal advocacy team. At that time, the company was going through an R&D reorganization that aimed at rationalizing our development tools and processes (such as using a single SCM instead of ten, sharing the same CI/CD tools and practices, etc.). My role was to spend time with different teams to help them improve their dev practices and to help the teams to migrate to the tools we were putting in place by doing technical coaching, presentations, trainings, and demos. This was the perfect combination of doing very technical stuff whilst helping other people to learn and improve the way they were working.
Do you see it coming?
Three years later, I joined a new program; an API program to allow independent developers, startups and innovators to access travel data and services. I left sunny Nice to move to fiery Madrid. The team was recruiting a dev advocate to take care of the relation with the users (developers), do the technical support, build SDKs, guides, demo apps, write content, and advocate internally and externally. The project is now live, we have a few avocados to promote it, assist our users and collect feedback to make this baby grow.
How does dev rel work at Amadeus?
Anthony: Dev rel is quite new in the company, at least the external part of it. We are part of Innovation. When we started, internally, people didn’t understand what we were doing and why we were doing it.
After a bit more than a year, it’s getting better. The teams we are working with see the value in what we do and the management is supporting us.
Our team is organized in a ‘startup mode’. We have a mix of skills and profiles. The idea is to be more reactive and agile than our corporation usually is. As of today, the team is a mix of dev advocates, product managers, strategy and communication. As many of our tasks are transverse, we rely on the DACI framework to define the roles and responsibilities. This was needed when the team was growing.
We are a data-oriented team. We have put in place different decision matrices to help us to filter events and partners. In terms of reporting, we use OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) in which we define very challenging objectives per quarter and build all our reporting based on that.
What’s your dev rel philosophy?
Anthony: Dev rel is not about selling something. It’s about helping users to be successful. It’s a dream job, no? I love the developer community, and as a developer too, I love the passion we share; the motivation we have to work on open source projects and to share the knowledge we have with others. Dev rel is the chance to do that every day, and earn a living at the same time!
What do you see as the big challenges for dev rel right now?
Anthony: I was smiling while reading the other interviews, we can all relate to the same about KPIs. I like to see myself as a very analytical person who takes decision based on data and facts, but in the end, we have to accept that not everything is measurable. Proving the value of dev rel takes time and energy but I believe we are (slowly…) getting there.
Even if we see more and more companies looking for dev advocates, it’s still very anecdotal to see a developer relations department. We are still in a phase of ‘let’s hire one person, if this person proves to us that dev rel brings value then we will think about hiring more’. Somehow it’s fair, but at the same time, you cannot expect from a single developer advocate to implement and deploy a full dev rel strategy for your company/product.
Oh, and it would be nice if people could stop calling us ‘Sales/Marketing/Product Manager’! It would also be great if our top management (at least pretends to) understand what we do!
What are you hopeful about?
Anthony: I’m hopeful about many things! I’m really happy to see more conferences, meetups, podcasts and events organized. We now even have great Slack channels and books! It means more opportunities to learn, to share and to grow. It also means that more people and companies understand better the value DevRel brings to both the company and the users!
And more than everything: I’m extremely hopeful about my upcoming trip to Argentina (2 hours to go!)
Ana Bahr shares the history and strategy of Target’s engineer community building program in this talk from DevRelCon San Francisco 2019.
Dev rel and community management often come together. But does that mean they’re the same thing?
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