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Software Developers Journey Podcast

#186 Suze Shardlow from marketing and the police to simply creating

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Suze Shardlow 0:00
But actually, I've probably done a lot more different things than I would have been able to do. Had I been working for somebody, because I was totally in charge of the brief, totally in charge of the delivery, didn't have to stick to what somebody else's ideas of good look like, and could just go for it. And I think I kind of proved that to myself. Because what these people were seeing of my work, they really loved it. So that kind of validated to me that it was good. And really, you should look for self validation and not external validation. But external validation is a good kind of supplement. To the to just helping you to feel like you're on the right track.

Tim Bourguignon 0:39
Hello, and welcome to developer's journey to podcast bringing you the making of stories of successful software developers to help you on your upcoming journey. I'm your host, Tim Bourguignon. On this episode 186 I receive Suze Shardlow. Suze is a multi award winning community builder, published tech author, coder, experienced public speaker crafter and coding instructor, but simply put, she's a creator, Suze Welcome to DevJourney!

Suze Shardlow 1:11
Hi, Tim, thanks so much for having me. What a lovely bio as well.

Tim Bourguignon 1:14
Yes, indeed, I wonder who wrote this...

Suze Shardlow 1:18
But you read it in your late night DJ voice, so it sounds even better!

Tim Bourguignon 1:21
Does it? Awesome, I'm glad to hear that. But before we come to your story, I want to thank the terrific listeners who support the show every month, you are keeping the dev journey lights up. If you would like to join this fine crew and help me spend more time on finding phenomenal guests, then editing audio tracks, please go to our website, DevJourney.info and click on the "Support Me on Patreon" button. Even the smallest contributions are giant steps toward a sustainable devjourney... journey! Thank you. And now back to today's guest. Suze, as you know, the show exists to help the listeners understand what your stories look like, and imagine how to shape their own future. So as is the habit on the show, let's go back to your beginnings. Where would you place the start of your DevJourney?

Suze Shardlow 2:14
The start of my dev journey, oh, it's so long ago. So I was coding as a small child in the 1980s. And I'll put a picture up on my website because I've been meaning to do that for a while. But there's a photo of me in the 90s actually on my 13th birthday programming on my BBC Micro which was my very first computer. So it's programming in basic, my BBC Micro and that's where it all began. So about 1982 When I was in primary school, is when I got that machine and I started coding. But the and I think I don't think this is necessarily a British thing. I think it's quite an international problem. And it still exists today that the UK just occation system didn't know what to do with girls who like computing. So I was never actually shown anybody that was doing programming for living. So I went to a girls school and they would bring in parents for careers days to tell you about what they did. And it was always like solicitors, doctors, vets, you know, all of those types of things. So we never saw a programmer. And my brother went to the the boys school that was kind of twinned with my school. And they offered all of the courses in computing. So in the UK, you take qualifications at the age of 16 and 18. And my brother school, they offered both of those qualifications. So those two levels, and at my school they didn't. So that was very much it kind of tells you what you need to know really about how they treated girls that like coding. So because of that, I decided, well, I didn't really know what I wanted to do. When I left school, I wanted to go into the media. Actually, I did have dreams about going on the radio, being a radio presenter. But I guess because I've gone to this really traditional school and the only jobs that were shown to me were these traditional professional jobs. It wasn't a path that looked viable for me. And so when it came to choosing what to do at 18, I decided to go to university and chose the most versatile degree I can think of which was business. And during that degree, I was able to choose a pathway. So you couldn't just generalize, you have to choose HR, accounting or marketing. And I didn't fancy HR accounting, so I chose marketing. And I guess that was kind of, you know, aligned with media. So I did that, and then just kind of fell into marketing. And around that time was when the internet was becoming something that people had in their homes, on dial up modems - I'm really showing my age, aren't I?! - on dial up modems. And so I made my first website in about 94... 96 just HTML, we didn't have CSS didn't have JavaScript, just HTML and all this all the styling was in HTML.

Tim Bourguignon 5:01
I remember that!

Suze Shardlow 5:02
yeah, I just cringing now just thinking about it. But it's true. It's a story. True story, folks, if you don't believe me go on the Wayback Machine and you'll see. But yeah, so I made my first website around then. And I was still always really interested in it. And I got a job as a marketing assistant, because my degree was one of those we call a sandwich degree in the UK, which was you take two years at university, and then the third year you work in industry, and then you come back for the fourth year to finish your studies and get your degree. So it's four year degree third year, so in industry, so I've got a marketing assistant job and my third year, and I was doing loads of like little web sites stuff in, you know, as making websites for my friends, you know, people getting married, things like that, and making wedding websites for them, which is quite hard if you don't use JavaScript. Imagine knife shot to make a photo album without any of that stuff. It just HTML. Yeah. I don't know how I did that. But yeah, so. So did that. And I just kind of thought, Well, I'm destined for a career in marketing. And that's what I carried on doing for quite a while, and worked in marketing for a number of different organizations, like the Canadian government works in economic development for them. So all of these experiences were really good, but I really didn't feel like what I wanted to do. And then I joined the police here in London as a communications person supporting technology rollout. So I was kind of getting closer to where I wanted to be, but still not within it. And what was quite frustrating about that was that I've made it very clear to people there that I wanted to be a technologist. But because they weren't technologists, they didn't know how to help me. And I think to some extent, weren't really that interested because government, government's not good at technology. And the people that work in technology, or worked in technology, where I worked weren't technologists themselves. So a lot of the time they were managing the relationship between the organization and the outsourced it to provider. And what they thought of it was really sort of surface support. So it wasn't actually creating stuff. And they were by products off the shelf, or maybe they get them develop, but they didn't really have an understanding of it. And they weren't really an intelligent customer in the respect that they were communicating to the provider exactly what we needed. So for example, they put in a new IP phone system that you had to log into to use. So if you're working in a bit busy police station, then you don't have time to log into a phone just to, to ring somebody, like there might be something kicking off right in front of you. But also these phones lock themselves out at six o'clock in the evening, like policing is 24/7. So yeah, it's alright for the folks that work in the offices in the police, but not for the operational police officers that I've got the 24/7 jobs, so things like that. So it was quite frustrating as I was so near, but yet so far to the technology piece. And then I decided because the police is so it's so varied in terms of what you could do as a career. Although I wouldn't count coding in that, or at least the time that I was in there, you can do almost any job in the police. So if you want to work as a catering manager, you can do that you want to be a lawyer, going to be an accountant, you want to go into logistics, etc. So I decided I wanted to be closer to frontline policing wanted to get away from the technology piece of work in frontline policing. So I got a job managing surveillance, which was really interesting. And then I got my dream job in the police, which is working in the community in a police station, managing all the logistics, and operational stuff for officers, which was like super fast moving, and you really got to see what they were dealing with and stuff like that. And I think that's really what policing is about. But then I kind of thought, you know, do I want to do this forever, I was really at the sharp end of government cuts that that last job that I had in the police was a job where I had been put in along with like 32 others because 32 boroughs in London, one of us in each borough to centralize all of the logistics and admin functions on that borrower. And so we are dealing with staff that have been working there for 30 years in some cases, and they just did not want any change. And that was really hard. And we had to sort of rationalize what we were doing, because we didn't have as much money and things like that. And I thought, Okay, this is gonna be my career forever now, because they never get to give the police loads of money to do everything they need to do, it's only going to get worse and worse. So I kind of took stock of the situation, and thought about, you know, what do I really want to do, and I did loads of reading, and to try and get to what I really wanted to do. And one of the things I read was What did you enjoy doing when you're a child? And I thought actually, I really liked Cody. And I still do really like making websites and stuff. So maybe it's that. So had a look into how to do that. But again, the path wasn't clear. And I think to some extent, it still isn't clear. So I'm talking about 2015 2016 at that point. And I think you know, there are still people now saying, you know, how do I get into coding. So it's still not really that clear. And to some extent not that accessible. So at the time there weren't any boot camps. So I kind of put that on hold for a little while. And then about a year or two later did a bit more research and found that there were these boot camps and it all kind of it was this perfect storm for me. Because of the cuts, they said, they're going to get rid of quite a lot of roles. And they said to me, if you want to be made redundant, then you know, you can go for it is fine. So I thought, right, I'll take a sabbatical, I will go and do the boot camp, and then I'll come back because I know I've got a job to come back to. And then I will apply for redundancy. So what I want to say about redundancy as well is the reason why I was so relaxed about it was because that was the third time in my career that I my job had been made redundant. So that was the second time in the police. And then also the job that I had left to join the police I had been made redundant from so by that point, I was a lot more comfortable with the situation. And I'd had previous experience. So by that time, I was actually looking forward to it. But also in that organization, they actually had a proper severance scheme. So I knew that because I'd been there for 12 years, then I would be okay, financially, they would give me a decent amount of money. So So yeah, so I did that. And then the redundancy came around, I applied for that to the redundancy. And at that point, I thought, you know, what do I really want to do, because actually, now I've got the privilege to take stock of the situation and decide what I want to do, I don't need to go and rush into anything. So I just decided I was gonna work freelance for a bit and just kind of see what came along. Alongside that I really ramped up my volunteer efforts in tech communities as well, which I had been doing before. But because I was working full time, I didn't have as much time. And now, you know, when I was working freelance, then I had a lot more time to dedicate to that. So really kind of ramp that up. And that was really good. I got to do a lot of things that are just experiment with things. And then yeah, and then COVID came along and everything went online. So had to experiment with the online stuff, which was really cool as well. So yeah, so I was doing that for a while. And a lot of different opportunities came my way. Actually, I've been really fortunate. I don't necessarily believe in coincidence, I think I probably I think I did make my own luck, but not in a really serious unnecessarily. I didn't sit down every day and say, right, it's, I'm going to structure this so that every day I'm striving towards this one goal, I think I did a few things that led me to this path of people discovering me, which I feel really fortunate about because I've had some really good opportunities. And then essentially got headhunted by Redis, who wanted me to apply for their open role as developer community manager. So I applied for that role. And we're not you know, there are other folks applying as well. So by no means was I just given the job. But I'm pressed them enough that they have hired me as their developer, Community Manager. So that is where I work now. And I've been there for two months. And it's been really good. It's funny, because leading on to big projects at the moment, which were initiated by me, so I really love the fact they've given me the autonomy to do that. And it's just nice to be able to just kind of hit the ground running and deliver stuff so soon. But it's funny because I'm talking to another friend who works for a different company. And they said their first two months, they just kind of faffing about, and I was like, Oh, I don't think I can claim that fabric respectively. Unfortunately, I'm committed now. So So yeah, that's where I am today. So there was a big gap in that whole coding journey. And then when I did actually become a software engineer, I decided that coding wasn't what I wanted to do full time. So yeah.

Tim Bourguignon 13:32
Interesting. Interesting. I'd like to unpack a couple of things. So starting with your boot camp, maybe not going back too far. But still, how did you decide on which boot camp was the right one for you?

Suze Shardlow 13:45
That was a really hard decision. So at the time, I think it was there, were just two in London. So it's Makers Academy in general assembly, and I went to both makers were focusing on Ruby at the time, I think I don't know what they do now. But they're focusing on Ruby and general assembly was doing JavaScript. I think that probably came into it a bit. And also general assembly is international. So I thought, you know, in the future, if I want to move abroad, then it might be good to go with an international name. So yeah, at the time, there wasn't much choice, but now there's loads. There's loads of different boot camps, like there's even local boot camps. And then there's free boot camps as well. So yeah, I guess what I'd advise anybody who's looking at boot camps to do is just look at your personal situation. And if you don't have means to go somewhere like General Assembly, which a lot of people don't I was lucky, then have a look at the free ones, because there were loads of high quality free ones. And people have built up communities around those so you can get that whole sense of camaraderie, and help with stuff. You just might need to do it remotely and virtually with folks. It's sort of a virtual community rather than a cohort that you that you actually get to know because you're all in a class together at a paid provider.

Tim Bourguignon 14:57
Did you need the boot camp structure in order to learn? Did you consider not going to boot camp and taking your sabbatical to learn on your own and ramp up like this?

Suze Shardlow 15:08
Yeah, but I'm not very good at distance learning. I like. And actually, I feel really lucky that I managed to go to General Assembly. And we all took it for granted that you could just go and turn off a classroom until the pandemic came along. And then when the pandemic came along, they did continue. But everything went virtual. And I think I probably would have struggled with that. So yeah, I deliberately chose something where I could get on the train and go to a place every day and sit in a classroom, and learn and then go home. But you know, that's not for everybody. It's just the way that I learned it. I like to have a bit of structure. And I did try and kind of teach myself, but I found it really hard for those reasons. But also, I guess, because I was working full time. So slotting in that time is quite hard and being disciplined and working through a timetable. So just for me, clearing the decks completely. And having somewhere that I had to physically turn up every day was the way that was gonna work for me. Yeah,

Tim Bourguignon 16:02
yeah, sure. You have to find out what works for you what you need to be able to put in the hours and then. Cool, very cool. And then you went right away into freelancing, what decided this or what pushed you into doing this instead of going to a company and start there? What was the reasoning behind it?

Suze Shardlow 16:22
I think because I've been working by that point is 2018. So I've been working for like 20 years by then. And I thought, You know what, I actually want a break. And I had actually had a brief moment of a close family member a couple of years before that. And so I had a lot going on in my life, without having to add in going into a new job in a new industry. And I also kind of looked at development. And I thought, Do I want to be doing this full time? Let's see what else is out there. And, you know, the volunteering piece was kind of taking off for me as well. And I thought, you know, if I go and get a full time job, then I won't have as much time to do that. So yeah, I think I'm not sure I consciously thought I want to go freelance for ages. I think I've thought I want a break. I want a break. And then that turns into when I started getting some opportunities that I thought actually yeah, you know, I can live off the severance for a little while longer if I do it frugally. And I don't go wild that I could do that for a bit longer support myself. And then I have little bits and pieces of work. So yeah, I don't think it was a conscious decision to go freelance long term, but it works out. All right. I think things do tend to work out. All right. As long as you're not sort of drifting aimlessly, and you do have a direction, then yeah, I think things do tend to work out. All right, in my experience.

Tim Bourguignon 17:47
Yeah, most of the time they do, if you're cool about it and take things as they come...

Suze Shardlow 17:54
Yeah. Which I don't necessarily think I am actually but the the evidence says otherwise. Yeah, if I think about it, think no, actually, that sounds quite scary. But if you look at the evidence that it doesn't match up,

Tim Bourguignon 18:05
yeah, that that definitely think about when you say well, I wanted to a break in. For me, going freelance is not a break. It's even scarier. Now you have to find your next paycheck, you have to find your next company, you have to think about well, what if the gig I'm having right now ends up abruptly? What happens the day after tomorrow and it for me, or to me at least it adds a lot of complexity. But apparently, you take it the other way, saying, Well, I'm my own boss. And that's fine. And I'm having a break for all these companies. And that so we should be?

Suze Shardlow 18:35
Yeah. But I think also, like I said that I had because I've been made my job, I've been made redundant three times by that point, I had decided that well, sort of peace, and calmness is only going to come by setting your own destiny. And working for a company isn't stability. If somebody said that to me the other day actually, that they wanted a job because they want to stability. And I didn't say to them that working for somebody else isn't stability. But that's kind of what I've, what occurred to me at the time, working for companies and stability. And I know this because I've been made redundant three times. So working for yourself quite more relaxing, and there was more choice. And I thought, you know, there was no pressure to keep having gig after gig because I'd been made redundant three times. And I'd kind of know what it's like to have no income and not know when that's going to be so built up a bit of a cushion. So there was no pressure and I think that's good, because I think that if there is pressure to keep finding the next one. Yeah, that can really stress you out.

Tim Bourguignon 19:37
I'd like to come back to something else. You said you were involved in communities before that time when did you start getting involved into tech communities?

Suze Shardlow 19:45
In tech communities? Probably around 2012ish, 2013.

Tim Bourguignon 19:52
So you were still working for the police?

Suze Shardlow 19:56
Yeah, yeah. So I was kind of thinking you know how do I do this? Let's go and look on meetup.com. Because I'd already looked at meetup.com to find friends in the local area, you know, move to a new area, find, you know, find some local people. And then I kind of thought, okay, maybe they've got some tech stuff on there. And they did, but not a huge amount of time. Like now there's there's loads, although a lot of them have died off because of the pandemic, unfortunately, there was a choice to either go online or stop, and a lot of folks to have to stop, which is totally understandable, because everyone was dealing with a lot of pressure. So going online is more pressure that you don't need. But yeah, so involved in tech community since both 2012 2013 and then became involved in actually helping to run after I took the bootcamp because I did approach one and said, you know, would you like help running your Meetup? I've got a lot of experience in marketing. So I had to run an event and promote it and stuff. And they said, Come back when you've got a couple of years as a developer. So yeah. For those of you listening, Tim's like "what???"

Tim Bourguignon 21:04
Absolutely, throwing my hands in the air saying "you have a marketing expert suggesting she had some time on their hand, and said she wants to help and you said no"

Suze Shardlow 21:12
I know, well, that's the biggest thing, because a lot of folks that run tech meetups don't necessarily know how to do that. So we saw a lot of them do, but some people don't they know how to deliver that, like the technical content, but not necessarily on the marketing piece. So yeah, so also a little bit dejected about that. But just try it again with another one. But aside from that, I think I've been sort of involved in building communities and clubs. It's always quite small. I remember making clubs when I was a kid, a primary school. And then when I was in the police, I ran the senior female staff association. So yeah, so I've kind of always been involved in community stuff. And it was just sort of latterly that I decided to get more into the tech thing. But I'm just glad that I didn't let that person put me off when they said, Come back when you've done a couple of years of being a developer, just seems a bit seems a bit wild to me now that somebody would say that that? Yes. So yeah.

Tim Bourguignon 22:06
What do you have to hear...

Suze Shardlow 22:09
Everyone's different? Like I keep telling myself that. But yeah,

Tim Bourguignon 22:12
Amen to that that into that. One of the thing you said was that you didn't have goals associated with after that. And you somehow people discovered you, what did you do to become discoverable?

Suze Shardlow 22:25
That is a really good question because you hear a lot in our industry especiallly on Tech-Twitter, or if you are in DevRel positon, about personal branding and also at the end of the bootcamp, they did say, you know, not necessarily about personal branding, but make sure you do a CV, and you make a business card, and you have your personal website, make sure that the branding is consistent across all of them. So they didn't talk about personal branding, it was more visual stuff. But then, you know, if you follow tech, Twitter and stuff like that, then a lot of people talk about personal branding, as well. And I'm very conscious that I don't want to be like in people's faces and stuff like that. But I think there's definitely a balance to be struck with. Yeah, it's okay to talk about your achievements. And you should, because, you know, that's your achievement, you should be proud of it like so for example, I just had a book published. So I put that up on Twitter. But what was really funny, actually, I put it up on Twitter. And it was it was published the same day as Dave Grohl books. I've gone from the Foo Fighters. So I mentioned the Foo Fighters in there and said, you know, means I've gone publishing a book on the same day. And they tweeted back at me and said, Congratulations. So like, now I can retire from Twitter. Now I've arrived. I don't need to tweet anybody else ever again, because I've achieved that. But yeah, so what I did was I kept up with my personal portfolio website, and and I started blogging, so not in a huge way at all. If you go on my blog, now, you won't see a lot of recent stuff. But yeah, it's really hard to have it to keep up. So I did that. And I started public speaking as well. So one of my first talks was actually no, my first tech talk was about my journey from policing to programming. And that was at a meet up, and they it was quite cool, actually. So they filmed it, and they put it on YouTube, but because of the license that they had used, a nother channel had picked it up and syndicated it. But the funny thing was, I didn't know this until one day on LinkedIn, this fella from Seattle, messaged me and said, I've just watched your talk. And I'm really inspired because I'm changing careers as well. And it would be my I feel honored. If you would accept my connection requests. I accepted it. And I Oh, hi. Like, how did you see my talk? Because this is just a tiny little meetup in London. And there were only like, 20 people in the room. And he said, Oh, I've seen it on this massive tech channel. I was like, what? So I went and looked and by that point had been off three days. I think it had like three and a half 1000 Today well, last time I looked, which was a few months ago, it had about 7000 views. On my first tech talk, I was like, okay, so people do. Yeah, people do actually want to hear about this stuff. So yeah, I'll do blogging. And then I did a bit of public speaking, not a huge amount of tweeting, just made sure that like everywhere that I'm online is fairly up to date, and showcases what I can do for people. And I was going through a lot of meetups as well as running my own ones that just meeting people that way. And just making connections that way, I guess. But yeah, whenever I've had the opportunities come to me, I always say to people, like, how did you find me? And a lot of the time they can't remember, which is a bit of a shame, really, because I kind of want to do more of how they found me. But yeah, mostly, I think it's through my blog, which is funny, because I think it shows that it's, I mean, I'm not saying My blog is like the best blog ever. But it shows that it's quality over quantity, because I seriously don't have that many blog posts, I might do by the time this goes out. Because I'm working now. So I've got a lot more stuff to talk about. But yeah, I seriously don't have a huge number of blog posts, and it's quite diverse. So there are some tech ones on there. But I also wrote one, because I had that brief friend, I had to sell a house. And I've never done that before on my own. So like finding an estate agent. So I wrote a blog post about how to choose an estate agent, which is definitely in the out adulting category that nobody ever teaches you at school. But I thought I'd document that there in case anybody else wants to know. And I'd like did a blog post about how to make a breakfast burrito because I used to go to California a lot, you know, when you're allowed to get on a plane and go to the USA. So I had to make a breakfast burrito. And the time that I first ran off 10k race, you know, stuff like that. So it's quite diverse. But I guess what they saw was that I could write it regardless of the topic. So maybe that actually was a strength that I could write about a variety of things. And I have my talks on there as well. So one of the things for me as a meetup organizer is if I want to get somebody to talk, I really kind of want to know if they can do it. Because I don't want to approach somebody who really isn't comfortable with doing it. I kind of want to get a flavor of what it's like or, you know, better still, if they've already got a talk about the topic that I want to them to speak about, then I can go and check that out and get a flavor of it. So yeah, so I kind of did that. And I guess, I don't know, really. I don't know how else folks were discovering me maybe a bit of word of mouth as well. So yeah, yeah.

Tim Bourguignon 27:28
You seem to have some kind of visibility

Suze Shardlow 27:31
From people that I recognize. But yeah, I don't know. I don't know. I definitely you know, if you look at all the people on Twitter, sometimes you think like, these folks are actually famous. I'm definitely in not in the league so that I have maybe like 1300 Twitter followers, and I don't tweet at all. So so it's definitely not that. But yeah, I wish I knew what it was.

Tim Bourguignon 27:51
But that's your imposter syndrome. Speaking,

Suze Shardlow 27:53
Maybe I really don't like that phrase actually occurred to you. Because so I read a really good article from Harvard Harvard Business Review, I'll send you the link, and maybe we can put it in the show notes. Enjoy it as well. Just anyone who feels like they've got pasta syndrome, you probably have heard, but at least think about it and decide whether or not you've got it. So I kind of chased it back to one of the in the police. And I have my first job working for the technology section, supporting those tech rollouts, and always been told that my work wasn't good enough. But I was like, I can't see why it's not good enough. You're not showing me why it's not good enough. And actually, I'm looking at yours. And yours isn't better than mine. But kind of believing that. So, for me, imposter syndrome is about you telling yourself that you're not good enough. And but in my experience, it was other people telling me that I wasn't good enough and be believing them. So yeah, we always we all have self doubts. So I always doubt you know, can I do this? Is it going to be any good? Should I even try it? Because I might fail? But I don't feel like I shouldn't be here. I think that's the difference an hour, whereas before I did, but it was because I was being made to feel like I shouldn't be there. So yeah, for me, that's the difference. But I'll send you that link. And it really sets it out in a clear way. I mean, the fact that it's called a syndrome. It's kind of sort of painted to be some sort of medical condition. And it's mostly something that people say to women, so like if you get a women in tech panel, a lot of the time they lost these folks on a panel like Oh, how did you deal with imposter syndrome? I rarely hear them ask an all male panel that a question. So it's like it's so the medical condition that's ascribed to women is great, isn't it? So? Yeah, that's why I personally don't believe in it. But I know a lot of people feel that they do suffer from it and I'm not going to take away from them. But for me personally, I've I've got past that and I feel comfortable with knowing that Yeah, I do have self doubts, but that's not the reason

Tim Bourguignon 29:59
Okay, thank you for going deeper into that. Maybe you can go deeper. I don't know, just let me know if you don't want to you said I was made to feel I don't belong. Can you expand on that? Or do you want to expand on that?

Suze Shardlow 30:11
Yeah, let me think about this. So I guess, working in a male dominated environment, and being a brown women as well. So I've got like, the double whammy? I think they are, they're just two things that are always going to be factors that if people make you want to feel like you don't belong there two really easy things to kind of hang your biases on, I guess. And I remember in the police, I got my first job that I got managing logistics. And I sat down the borough commander, and they welcomed me to the borough. And he said, I'm really glad you're here. You're part of my senior management team. And I'm so glad you're here, because not only are you a woman, you're from an ethnic minority. Unlike Oh, great. So ticking both of these boxes in your little box ticking, exercise them. That's brilliant. So yeah, that press has been promoted a couple of times now. So is it that's good to know, isn't it? So? Yeah, just things like that. But I think at the time, it didn't occur to me. I just kind of felt like, okay, so they are measuring my work objectively. So that was very naive. But the you know, that was a long time ago now. And I can, I can now see it for what it was looking back, you know, everything's 2020. Now, isn't it? So? So yeah, it's funny, isn't it, and I'm like, I think I'm always going to get that stuff's never going to go away. And I think that if I did feel more comfortable in the 90s, when I was growing up, it was probably a combination of that these prejudices were more latent men, like they never went away, they just became more latent. And also just that whole, like, invincibility of youth. I felt like I could do anything. And you know, I was equal and stuff like that. But now I realize, actually, that's not the case. Out. Yeah, this is reality of the situation.

Tim Bourguignon 32:06
I'm afraid it is out nonetheless. Yeah.

Suze Shardlow 32:10
I think the best thing I can say to folks that are thinking that is, you know, if you have privileged, please lend it, that's the best thing you can do to help the situation, be a good ally, and lend your privilege because, you know, I attended a really good talk, and there was this white guy standing up there. And he said that privilege is like a pie, he knows that he will open his front door every morning, and there would be a whole new pie there for him. Every morning, he will get a full do pie, regardless of whether he ate the one yesterday, or whatever. So he's, he makes it his mission to everyday give away parts of that pie to people, because he knows there's going to be new one there in the morning. So you know, if everybody who had tons of privilege did that, then the world would be a better place.

Tim Bourguignon 32:51
That's very nice metaphor. Thank you. Yeah. steering a little bit away from from that topic. There's a question I wanted to ask you went through the whole marketing career, and then went another way. Did you have in mind that marketing would come back at some point in this new industry you were coming in? Or was it in the back of your mind somewhere? In your subconscious? Or was it a conscious decision? Or how do you connect the dots here? In hindsight, obviously?

Suze Shardlow 33:22
That is a really good question, actually. And the answer is no, I did not know. And I think the reason I didn't know is because the whole technology industry was a mystery to me for a very long time. So although I knew people that were working in industry, so like I said, at the beginning, the UK education system didn't know what to do with girls who liked coding. But they didn't know what to do with boys, that light coding. And I have a lot of male friends about my age, who did go through the education system and went to university and did the computing degree. And then went straight into technology and had been working in technology ever since they graduated university. So I spoke to them. And you know, a lot of them are programmers, one of them's a sysadmin. And that wasn't the sort of jobs I wanted to do. Really, I mean, maybe the programming, but definitely not the sysadmin. And so I was like, Well, what jobs could you even do? Like there's not really a lot of information about careers in tech, really. So I definitely didn't know that I could use my marketing experience other than for what I had already been doing as an actual marketing person supporting tech rollouts. And it wasn't until probably two or three years ago, that I heard about developer advocacy, and developer relations and all of those things that come under that umbrella, all those different terms, that kind of overlap and stuff. And thought, actually, this might be something that would be a good combo of my previous experience, and what I know now about modern software engineering, and the tech industry and that whole community piece, so yeah, so it wasn't until Like a couple of years ago, really when I started going to the meetups and things like that, and meeting people who were actually doing the jobs, and then spending more time on tech, Twitter and hearing from these people, and things like that, and just every other person I seem to me, seem to be in dev rel. But I think that's partly because, like I said, I don't really believe in coincidences. So it was probably just because of the things that I was going to that I was interested in was also stuff that they were interested in as well. So So yeah, no, it didn't occur to me that it would come full circle like that. But I'm really glad that it did. Because although marketing, it was a big part of my life, I wouldn't say it was 100%, my bag necessarily, like I said, you know, I kind of fell into it in the beginning, there were a lot of bits about it that I actually did like a lot. And a lot of it still makes sense to me. And a lot of the strategies and stuff, you can still use it in other parts of your life. You know, if you want to do a talk, like know your audience, well, in marketing, you need to know your audience. So stuff like that. And so I'm actually giving a talk at Dev Rel calm, which will have passed by the time this podcast goes out. So hopefully the video will be out by then. But yeah, I'm going to be talking about marketing strategies you can use that are useful to you in dev rel, so you can be more effective Devereaux person, because I think that a lot of Dev Rel people have come from, I was a software engineer, and now my dev role because I understand the community. But they don't necessarily have sort of a business strategy. Background. So. So yeah, I'm really pleased to be giving that talk at DEF CON.

Tim Bourguignon 36:29
Yes, that's exactly where I was coming. I've seen many people coming from dev rel from development, and slowly stepping into more and more marketing facing stance or position. But the other way around was kind of new to me. So having somebody who really came from marketing and adding the technical baggage and saying, Well, we're coming at the same point, but just from a different angle. That that's very interesting. And that's just kind of new so yeah, it must be interesting to talk to to the other side of the fence maybe and seeing what what they don't have yet from your skills and what you don't and how you can cross pollinate?

Suze Shardlow 37:03
Yes, yeah, yeah, definitely complement each other. And I was gonna say the exact same thing, actually. So there's a lot that I don't know. But because I work at a team, I can lean on members of my team, and I can then my experience to them. So one of the two big projects that I've mentioned, that I'm doing this month, is, I don't know why I always like to do this in my boot camp as well, which was why it was quite stressful. But when I'm given a brief, or when I decide to do something, I always look for like a different way of doing it, or like a more difficult way of doing it. But it's, yeah, I don't know why, because I'm a perfectionist. And so then I think I can't do it. So I'm not even going to start. So yeah, please, if anyone's got any advice for me, please do tweet at me and let me know. But one of the things I'm doing is I've decided to take ru 101, which is our introduction to Redis data structures course. And it by no means was I mandated to do this by my boss. But I just thought you know what, it will be good for me to have a foundation. And this is where a lot of people, I enter our community. By taking a course I'll take this course. But what I'm going to do is learn in public and do live streams of me learning about this stuff, because although I've done a lot of live events, I've run a lot of tubes laughing his head off, by the way to finish it if everybody's listening. I've done a lot of live events. I've emceed a lot of live events as well. I've never done a live stream, which is basically the same thing, really. But what I've done is I've teamed up with one of our developer advocates and our developer advocacy manager to run this live stream. So our Developer Advocate who's one of the educators on the course, is taking me through things and yeah, it's really good. So we've been doing that every week, we're gonna do that every week for the next six weeks. So they're really benefiting from me being able to write the run a live event in a nice, structured way and strategize how that's going to look. And I'm benefiting from him and his knowledge and his vast teaching experience, as well. What's coincidental is that he used to teach at the boot camp, not the same branch. So he was his America, but at the same boot camp that I went to, so he kind of knows like, because I went to that boot camp, and I learned in that way as well. So that's been really cool. So that's a really good example of collaboration there where we've all brought different skills into the mix.

Tim Bourguignon 39:18
It is indeed, and that's why I'm laughing because when you rationalize this, it's absolutely a perfect move. It's working in the open showing that you can do it it's showing you how to plan for etc. It's the perfect move. But the first thing you see is "are you crazy, are you naive or do you just don't realize what's coming ahead of you" but when you scratch it or the surface it's a perfect plan.

Suze Shardlow 39:42
Yeah, you do have to digg quite far. We used to have a saying in the police there's a fine line between brave and stupid so yeah, if you see any like stories about police that get bravery medals, like you look at what they actually did, it's like why really differently He ended up being killed. So yeah, there's a fine line between brave and stupid.

Tim Bourguignon 40:04
That explains a lot about Hollywood...

Suze Shardlow 40:09
Yeah, it explains a lot about life really doesn't it?

Tim Bourguignon 40:12
It does it does. Suze it's been a blast and the clock is ticking, if we come back to a key moment

in your story:
what really pushed you into into stepping into this new career saying okay, enough is enough. Now's the time. And so I know there was this this redundancy story. So it's might be a question of opportunity. But But there's still this, you could have done something else. So now is the time to go in tech, what would be the the be one advice that you would tell people facing maybe this same questioning?

Suze Shardlow 40:47
Yeah. Okay. So I know when I was in the police, I, there were a number of times where I thought I want to leave, I want to leave on leave, and was too scared to leave. And that was partly because I've been there for so long. But also because when you work in the public sector, in the UK, the benefits are really good. So you accrue all this stuff? And then you're like, Well, I can't throw it all away. But there, you know, there's such a thing as a sunk cost fallacy. So why would you invest more time of your life, because time is the one thing in your life that you can't get back, right? You might lose all your money, but eventually you might be able to make that back. But you know, you can waste like another 10 years of your life, you'll never get that back. And you never get youth back. So yeah, I think there came a point where I thought, Do I really want to do this forever, I've got 12 years, that's a long time, but it's not super long, I can restart. And if I do well in tech, then I'll probably be making more money than I'm making now anyway, and there's just so many more opportunities out there. And I can take this, you know, abroad and stuff like that. So I think it was, I think it was that and just the whole environment that was working in in the police where you know, the cuts were coming and things like that. And then that golden opportunity of the redundancy came up and I thought Yeah, you know, I'm gonna, I'm gonna go for it this time, I'm not scared anymore. But in terms of like the turning point for actually going freelance into a full time job, that was really hard. I was like, oh, I want to work full time and lose all this freedom to do what I want. But I think it was, the thing that pushed me was actually, you know, these people have heard about me, and they have actually said to me come and apply for a job. So there must be something in here. That's good, even though a lot of my experience has been gone, like on a voluntary basis. So haven't been paid. And I think that was one of the things where I thought, you know, is this good enough, I haven't been paid. But actually, I've probably done a lot more different things than I would have been able to do. Had, I'd been working for somebody, because I was totally in charge of the brief, totally in charge of the delivery, didn't have to stick to what somebody else's ideas of good look like, and could just go for it. And I think I kind of proved that to myself. Because what these people were seeing of my work, they really loved it. So that kind of validated to me that it was good. And really you should look for self validation and not external validation. But external validation is a good kind of supplement to the to just helping you to feel like you're on the right track. But yeah, I think that's kind of when I decided that this is when I want to actually take the leap and do it. Because you know what had all those things like the person who said to me come back, when you've got two years as a developer, I also had people saying to me, you need to be a better coder to do this job, go and do a year as a software engineer, and then come back, I had people telling me that I wouldn't get paid very much, you know, my first would ever roll stuff like that. So yeah, I'm quite glad that I kind of, you know, listen, but also looked objectively, or what I was actually seeing, and witnessing and the evidence and just kind of went for it. And it's all worked out really well.

Tim Bourguignon 43:53
I think it did as well! thank you very much. Where would be the best place to continue this discussion with you? Would that be Twitter that you mentioned a couple times?

Suze Shardlow 44:00
Yeah, Twitter, or if folks want to reach out to me or just see what I'm up to at the moment. Then Suze.dev is my website, any upcoming talks or any past talks or blog posts and things like that. So I'm going to try and document quite a lot of things that I'm doing going forward as well. So yeah, any one of those places, but suze.dev is where you'll find all my contact details. Yeah.

Tim Bourguignon 44:23
And we'll put that in the show notes. So just scroll down and click anywhere to brilliant. Thank you very much. It's been a blast.

Suze Shardlow 44:30
No worries, Tim, thanks so much for inviting me. It's been a real pleasure speaking to you today.

Tim Bourguignon 44:35
Well, the pleasure is all mine. This has been another episode of developper's journey, and we see each other next week. Bye. Thanks a lot for tuning in. I hope you have enjoyed this week's episode. If you like the show, please share rate and review. It helps more listeners discover those stories. You can find the links to all the platforms to show appears on on our website, devjourney.info/subscribe. Creating the show every week takes a lot of time and energy and of course money. Would you please help me continue bringing out those inspiring stories every week by pledging a small monthly donation, you'll find our patreon link at devjourney.info/donate. And finally, don't hesitate to reach out and tell me how this week's story is shaping your future. You can find me on Twitter @timothep or email [email protected] Talk to you soon!