The 2016 YOW! Conference is coming soon. Don’t wait to get your tickets – Melbourne is already sold out!

This week I attended four different meetups in Sydney, all very different! The first was the second Equality Hacks Think Tank, held at the Elabor8 offices. This recently formed group was based on a similar project in Victoria called BoldMoves, with a goal of coming up with “safe-to-fail” experiments to increase diversity in tech. Jody Podbury facilitated as two groups explored ideas (many of which had been  fleshed out ideas and experiments. I tweeted some of the ideas that I particularly liked.

(Men of Sydney! We need you to join this group! We can’t do it alone.)

The second meetup I attended was Designing Products as part of the Sydney Spark Festival. This was also their second ever meetup, the first one happening two years ago! The meetup was hosted by the fine folks at Web Directions, and it was quite a full house.

The first speaker was Lauren Bedford, Head of Product Design at Expert 360. Lauren talked us through the top five lessons she learned being a product designer at a startup. My favourite was that startups do, in fact, have tech debt! She also talked about the tension between being a designer who likes to get things perfect and a product manager who needs to deliver quickly.

The second speaker was Buzz Usborne, Design Lead at Atlassian. Buzz also walked us through the things he learned over the course of his career. He said that designers all share the same frustrations even in bigger startups: no team is perfect; and there’s never enough time or budget. My favourite quote from his talk: “As a designer, it’s your job to make customers feel AWESOME.”

This meetup is a great new addition to the Sydney community. Thankfully the organisers say the next one is scheduled for January, so we won’t have to wait another two years. 🙂

The next event was also part of the Spark Festival – the Women in Tech Breakfast at Gravity Coworking. It was an early start, but the lovely coffee and catering helped!

The speaker was Lisa Martens, Director of Market Insights at Squiz. Lisa’s talk was nominally about personal branding, but really it was about a time when she realised her internal self-perception didn’t line up with how others perceived her. She was in a funk, and since she didn’t have six months “to quit her job and pull an Eat Pray Love,” she did something else entirely: she signed up for a boxing program and fought an amateur bout.

Honestly, at eight in the morning, the last thing I was expecting was “women in tech Fight Club”! But it was amazing. Lisa told us about her challenges along the way – learning the “systems” that would allow her to survive the training and the fight; dealing with friends and family who were less than supportive; a round of food poisoning that set her back a week; and her nerves as the big day approached. We were all on the edge of our seats until she revealed the outcome – she won her fight! She told us how it affected her self-confidence and her willingness to back herself in her professional life. As she put it, “The things we work hard for – we should celebrate those victories.” It was an amazing and inspirational talk, and judging by the number of questions afterwards, everyone found is just as fascinating as I did.

The last event of the week was SydPHP, held at the Hey You offices in Surry Hills. The speaker was Katie McLaughlin, Operations Engineer at Ambiata. Katie was giving her talk on “The Power and Responsibility of Unicode Adoption” (aka The Emoji Talk), and it did not disappoint! (Slides are here.)

Katie taught us all about the importance of using Unicode and the problems caused by legacy systems that don’t support it. As she put it, there are lots of people in the world who can’t even enter their names in some systems because they involve non-ASCII characters. She also told us about  the history of emojis and how new emojis are added to the standard every year. (Yay for the Female Technologist emoji!) We also learned about Zero Width Joiners, and how they allow for emoji to be combined in different ways (like making a rainbow flag or allowing for different skin tones). There were heaps of questions afterwards and a lot of laughter. My favourite tweet of the night:

Well said.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on Google+