Software Developers Journey Podcast

#297 Brit Myers from Math Major to DevOps & Leadership



Brit Myers' career narrative is not a conventional one, and that's precisely what makes it so compelling and relatable for many who find themselves on the fringes of the tech industry, wondering if they've missed their calling. As the VP of Engineering at System Initiatives, Brit has a story that resonates with late bloomers and self-doubters alike, proving that an unconventional start can still lead to a successful career in technology.

Her journey underscores the importance of resilience, the role of serendipity, and the significance of genuine networking in the tech world. Brit openly discusses her initial struggles with self-doubt and the importance of overcoming that internal chatter which often undermines one's capabilities. This is a valuable lesson for anyone grappling with the imposter syndrome or feeling that they are not cut out for a career in tech simply because they started later than their peers or took a different path.

Brit's emphasis on managing expectations is another key takeaway. In the tech industry, there is often an illusion of perfection, an assumption that everyone else knows exactly what they're doing at all times. Brit debunks this myth, revealing that even the most accomplished professionals are still learning and making mistakes. Her advice to "just keep moving forward" is both simple and profound. It's a reminder that action, not perfection, is what leads to growth and success in the tech sector.

Networking, a term that often evokes images of transactional interactions and elevator pitches, is redefined by Brit as a practice grounded in sincere interest in others. She shares her experience of overcoming social anxiety and the importance of building meaningful relationships in the industry. Brit's approach to networking is not just about making connections; it's about understanding and helping others, which in turn creates opportunities and fosters a positive reputation.

Brit's transition from a math major to a leadership role in cloud engineering exemplifies the diversity of pathways into the tech industry. Her narrative serves as an example that technical skills, while important, are not the sole factor in career growth. Leadership and the ability to guide and influence teams are just as crucial, especially when climbing the corporate ladder. Brit’s rise to a leadership position, managing a global team of engineers, highlights the less tangible but equally valuable aspects of her work, such as strategic planning and mentorship.

Finally, Brit touches upon the human aspect of DevOps, stressing that it's not just about speeding up software releases, but about creating efficient processes that lead to better business outcomes and product success. Her pursuit of an executive MBA underscores her commitment to continuous learning and her passion for empowering others in the field. This paints the tech world not merely as a marketplace but as a community that thrives on innovation, collaboration, and the collective growth of its members.

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Brit Myers: 0:00
doing. Like those people aren't as smart as you think they might like, or they are, and they make mistakes. Like you will make mistakes. Everybody makes mistakes. Like cut yourself some slack, the expectations aren't that high. You have higher expectations for yourself and don't beat yourself up. And that has, like those having some of like those mantras or like a talk track to sort of like tone down my inner. Like you can't do this, you shouldn't do this, you're not qualified, you're. You know, like the chatter that happens in your brain. It's like yeah, yeah, and that person wasn't qualified, and then they did it and they rocked it and so why can't that happen to you? Like you can make that happen. It's like, oh yeah, okay, I can. So I think that that would be my piece of advice is, the world around you is not as perfect as it seems. Nobody knows exactly what to do a hundred percent of the time. The only thing to do is just keep moving and just keep moving forward and don't overthink it.

Tim Bourguignon: 0:50
Hello and welcome to developers journey, the podcast bringing you the making of stories of successful software developers to help you on your upcoming journey. I'm a host team On this episode. I receive Britt Myers. Britt is the VP of engineering at system initiatives and, more broadly, she's a technology leader with over a decade of experience in the cloud and DevOps space, as well as a scaling, high performing engineering teams. Oh, and just to make it more fun, she recently completed an executive MBA from the University of Michigan. What an idea, britt. Why can't they have journey?

Brit Myers: 1:29
Thank you for having me, Tim.

Tim Bourguignon: 1:30
Happy beer, oh it's my pleasure and we have to talk about this. What, what was that for an idea? A complete MBA, come on.

Brit Myers: 1:38
Yeah, it was probably not the greatest thing to do, as I was expecting my fourth and in between jobs, but you know I'm done. Congratulations, thank you.

Tim Bourguignon: 1:50
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 than editing audio tracks, please go to our website, devjourneyinfo and click on the support me on Patreon button. Even the smallest contributions are giant steps toward a sustainable Dev journey journey. Thank you, and now back to today's guest. So Britt. As you know, the show exists to help the listeners understand what your story looked like and imagine how to shape their own future. So, as is usual on the show, let's go back to your beginnings. Where would you place the start of your Dev journey?

Brit Myers: 2:39
Yeah, my start is, I think, probably later than later than most. You know I wasn't. I was not really exposed to CS much well at all in high school. I wasn't. I wouldn't really classify myself as a nerd. Growing up I wasn't really into video games. So for me it started in college where I landed an internship at a defense company here in the States which showed me sort of you know, leading up into that internship I had some exposure to programming, basic concepts. I understood the math I was a math major. But what I'd never had sort of grasped until that internship was connecting like the lines of code I was writing to the impact of what's happening with the service, of the product or whatever I'm building, and having that feedback and seeing that what I'm doing is not just solving interesting logic problems or, you know, sort of exercising engineering curiosity or creative curiosity. It was like, oh, I'm writing this code so that this problem in the world is solved and that was like a light bulb that went off that I haven't been able to, haven't been able to turn off ever since.

Tim Bourguignon: 3:52
And it's really something that happens quite often. Until we see the reaction to what we do, it's really hard to really understand. But many, many developers started with an app and finally having an app on their own phone and say, whoa, it's not just. I did this, I built this with my hands and my fingertips, and then I put my machine on my desk, you know, and it's not just in the hell of a world on the console on my machine, it's really something I'm using every day and that's really the mind-blowing moment. I can really understand that. So that was working with, or internship with, the defense contractor in the US.

Brit Myers: 4:28
Yeah, and you know at the time, college in the US is incredibly expensive. I had entered college as a math major and, having that internship, what I realized was, like this is what I want to do, at least for my first job, and I wasn't thinking sort of for the rest of my life. But my goal is to land a job as a software engineer and I basically oriented as much of my exposure and like coursework for the remaining of my degree towards that goal, without changing majors, because by God I did not want to pay for any more years of college. College is expensive.

Tim Bourguignon: 5:02
Okay, what was your major before?

Brit Myers: 5:05
I was math. So I was. I entered as a math major, I graduated as a math major and you know, part of my reason for becoming a math major was I knew I liked problem solving. I knew I liked critical thinking. I didn't know what domain to apply that to and so my thought was like, well, if I can prove that I'm smart by surviving this math program, maybe somebody can like tell me something to be smart about. You know, like show me the problems to solve and give me the tools to solve them. And that internship sort of gave me. It, gave me that like, oh, I can apply my skills here and, you know, have this impact.

Tim Bourguignon: 5:37
Well, it worked all right, I guess.

Brit Myers: 5:40
Yeah, it's paid off so far.

Tim Bourguignon: 5:43
Yeah. So how did you, from the moment you realized, okay, this is what I want to do now, how did you approach the problem saying, okay, what do I need to learn? Where do I need to apply? What skills can I value, as is, which ones do you learn? Et cetera.

Brit Myers: 5:58
Yeah. So I focused heavily on building my CV. So you know, I took any campus job that had anything that I could add to a resume that said something programming, something, software I took, you know, would find like side projects to work on and, you know, create a portfolio to sort of evidence. Because what I knew was that, applying for entry level jobs, I knew that I'd be competing against people who have a computer science undergrad or like more direct academic exposure to the domain, and so I needed to find a way to sort of how can I compete with those people for these jobs? And so I just pursued work experience and most of my exposure was in this the defense job I had, and then one of the internships I landed at the university. It was this mix between math and computer science and software. So it was never a very consumer-facing approach for me, if that makes sense, and it was much more leaning into the like how vast of a background can I build and how many different things can I expose myself to to show that I can think broadly, I can learn quickly, and so, yes, I might not have the exact experience you're looking for, but look at all this evidence that I can teach myself and that I can be good at the job anyways, you know.

Tim Bourguignon: 7:25
For a long-term strategy, absolutely perfect. Was it hard at the beginning following this strategy?

Brit Myers: 7:31
It was hard and it was. You know, I had to network a lot. Basically I had to find my way in places, because that first hurdle of you know if you've got, if there's a job posting and there's, you know, 3,000 applicants, 5,000 applicants, even 500 applicants it's like I have pretty high confidence in myself but stacked me up against 499 other people I don't. There are plenty of people in this world smarter than me and one of them maybe could have applied for this job in this moment. And so I networked a ton which was I don't know uncomfortable and it felt a little bit strange, I think. But you know, like the relationships that I was able to build, I look really reflect on having a positive impact for me in my career, and so I just sort of I latched on to that. It's like, yes, obviously you need to be able to do the job and you need to be good at your job, but if people can know you and they can want to work with you also, then that was like the icing on top that I needed and oftentimes like what sort of pushed me over the edge in some situations, where had I not have done that and put in that effort, I might not have gotten the job, or I might not have gotten, you know, the call or the foot in the door or what have you. So that was, you know it was. It was a. Really I learned a lesson. That I learned, I think, quite early, is it's not like it's about like building software and building systems and running systems is still as much about people as it ever was, regardless of how far automation has come, and I've just sort of really never abandoned that idea and leaned hard into the people and the people side of things.

Tim Bourguignon: 10:18
Hell yeah, I've been facing the same problems and it's never to take.

Brit Myers: 10:24
It's like yeah, you know, like computers are easy, like people, like people are hard.

Tim Bourguignon: 10:30
Yep, yep. I remember in college, the major I was in had less and less and less applicants year after year and at some point the, the, the, the. The professor leading the major said hey, do you want to talk to you to the younger students, I'll organize something. And we talked to them for an hour and remember they were. They were asking some dumb questions and so at some point I told them well, the tech doesn't matter, it's just, it's just something that you learn. And that was major I was in. The tech doesn't matter, it's just something that you learn. And in the end, it's just people stuff. And I saw the face of the professor why You're here to advertise a tech.

Brit Myers: 11:11
No, no, no. We want them to come study this tech here right now and send us the money for it.

Tim Bourguignon: 11:16
Exactly, but that was already something I had darlily understood this people problem. What did you mean exactly when you said your networked a lot, especially from the point of view of not yet major or just yeah, I was.

Brit Myers: 11:34
I was still an undergrad, you know I I don't all all of the sort of platitudes of like I engaged with the alumni network, so I was a collegiate athlete and I like heavily resourced the women basketball players, alumni, to sort of get to know them and understand their paths and understand sort of their journey within, like on campus, building relationships with professors, with faculty, to understand, like, what their concerns are, what opportunities they're seeing. You know, I was able to, you know everything from. Oh, I, you know, was a TA for this class and they paid, you know, at the time this was like an insane amount of money for a college student to grade papers. It was like 20 bucks an hour to grade papers. You know, however, long ago, which would minimum wage a seven, it was like whoa, you know, and I only ever would have done that if, like I, showed an active interest and built this relationship and so, when the opportunity came up, my name was in top of mind, you know. And so like there. There are sort of like phrases that I've later learned in my career, that I've latched onto that I didn't have at the time. But you know, one example is like having your name spoken in rooms you're not in in a positive light, like the more, like the more things you can do so that that situation happens. More is like that's a good thing and it's like effectively what I was doing. I just didn't really know it by that name. And then, yeah, you know, it's like you meet somebody and you hear about a thing and you know you try not to say no to events. You know, try to just say yes. And the other sort of phrase that sticks with me that you know I use with my kids a lot is like there is so much of life that is just luck, like it is just right place, right time. And what my goal was was to just maximize the chance, the probability that I was in the right place at the right time, you know. And so if the question was like ah, is there anything in this? For me it's like, well, is there like will this be harmful? You know, is this going to like detract from what I'm doing? And if the answer was in an obvious no, then that means, therefore, there's a chance that that could be the right place at the right time, where I meet the one person to do the thing and so much of my career has been this, you know, been a product of that happenstance where I can point at moments in time and I can arguably say I busted my ass to get there and also it was the right place at the right time. And something I had no control over was the thing that also was needed, you know, for situations to work out the way that they did, and so it's. You know you have to. I'm an extrovert, I'm very outgoing, but I do have a ton of social anxiety, like showing up to, like networking events, like it's incredibly still this day, like incredibly uncomfortable. I have to like talk myself into it every time, and part of the talk track every time is, you know that this has resulted in good things, like just go do it, you know.

Tim Bourguignon: 14:35
It's the second time I think about this book this week and I didn't research the name. I completely forgot about it. It was basically describing that luck is not just a factor of luck but being prepared for it and being ready for it. And they had some, some, some members behind it, some studies showing that basically company companies they were focusing on companies less, less on people. Companies that experienced lucky moments actually didn't have more lucky moments than the others. They were just able to leverage them more than the others. And so what you're describing is getting ready for it is having gone the moves and being there and, when the lucky moments appears, being able to recognize it and grasp it.

Brit Myers: 15:16
Precisely yeah.

Tim Bourguignon: 15:17
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I love that, yeah, I love that, that's, that's, that's exactly it, exactly yeah. I love how you started this answer saying well, um, go to people, go to your TA professors and understand their concerns and that's something that I've been hearing um often is networking. It's not about you, it's really starting about the others, your concerns, their interests. You're nodding heavily right now.

Brit Myers: 15:41
Yes, yes, yes, I, I this is something my grandfather actually uh, taught this to me like very young. Like you'd always say, whether it's you know as a child, when, like, kids have often have so little control over what's happening in their lives, right, it's like you have to go to school, there's all these rules, the schedule is out of their control, the menus are often out of their control. It's like there's all these details in moments where children, they just have to deal, you know, and then the path is laid for them or the decisions are made and, uh, focusing on what you can control to influence what the path is going forward, like that was. That was just something my grandfather like really drilled home for me, which is, let's say you have a teacher and let's say you hate this teacher like you. Just, you don't like their style, they're not working for you, you think they're maybe a little bit too mean or, you know, passive, aggressive, whatever. None of that matters. What matters is that teacher has some control over you, that you don't aka your grade, and so if you can just figure out what that teacher wants and this is this, is he's telling me to this as a child if you can figure out what the teacher wants and give it to them, you'll pass the class. Like nine times out of 10, you'll pass the class. And so some teachers are, you know, professors in college. It's sometimes it's, you know, being willing to show up to office hours or like asking for extra help or being proactive in helping other students. Or sometimes teachers really hate that like don't help the other students. They want them to struggle and learn how to struggle and learn how to learn and get through it. And every teacher, every sort of like authority figure, if you will, has something slightly different about them. And if you can understand what that is and learn what they want and what they appreciate and what they value, figure out a way to give it to them, nothing but good things will happen. Like that is, it is just a recipe that will just result in good things, and I think it's like very similar to what what you're describing, which is when you network, part of what you're doing is you're looking for ways that this person can help you, but you have to acknowledge they don't want to help you for the sake of themselves. Like, what did they're? They're there for a reason too. You know they have problems, they have concerns, and so, as much as you can make that bi-directional and as early as you can figure that out like, the better it's going to be. And it you know that applies to teachers, it applies to parents to some degree, although maybe it shouldn't so much. But bosses, teammates, you know indirect bosses, skip levels, your product managers, your project managers, right, like all of those roles, they have some amount of control that you don't have. Figure out what they need to do, figure out what's important to them and help them get there, and everything will be better if you just follow that, if you just follow that path.

Tim Bourguignon: 18:19
Is it something, oh hell, yes first. Is it something that is in your guts now and you do it? You do it by default. Or is it something that you verbalize and that you have to do with new connections and when you face problems?

Brit Myers: 18:32
I think it's pretty. I think it's pretty default because I you know, we in the pre-call we were talking, and, like you, talk, about influence and influencing others, and there's a, there's a spin on that word influence, which is like manipulation, right, and I think, I think what the instinct that I have tuned is like how to influence the situations that I'm in to have the outcomes that I want. And so that part has become more natural, because because I I don't know, I suppose I try to want the right things. I, you know, like I try to want the things that are better for everybody to some degree, you know, and so that that part comes natural, and and the part that I, the part that I do, you know, overtly or sort of explicitly talk through, is when I'm building that relationship. It's it, it does. It has to be bi-directional, you know, and so I have to be open and authentic and transparent with the person, because nobody wants to be sold, nobody wants to be manipulated. You know, it's like the logical, the negative logical conclusion of what I'm describing is a really awful person doing really awful things selfishly, and that's not at all what I'm, not at all what I'm getting at. And so it, if I start with this instinct and then I approach it authentically with a person to build a relationship like it just I don't. I've found that people can, they can see through more than you realize and so it just I. Yeah, if you, if you take it too far, it just it is. As soon as it becomes not authentic, it fails. I suppose I don't know that I exactly answered your question, but it was a hard question to answer it was no, you did fantastic.

Tim Bourguignon: 20:19
Let's let's roll back a little bit. We went on this networking tangent, which was fantastic, but how did you enter then the the industry being a math major with a lot of CV driven buzzwords on your resume? How was that? How did that go?

Brit Myers: 20:35
Yeah, I, I. So I went to college in I'm from Cleveland, where I still live now Cleveland, ohio. I went to college in Pittsburgh, pennsylvania, which is just a short two hour drive, and at the time when I graduated I had a long term college boyfriend. And so the question was like am I moving home and getting married and having kids or am I not? And sort of the not. The other was like this open vastness of like I don't know anything ever in the world. I guess I could be, you know, like what do I want to be when I grow up? And I'm in Cleveland with four kids and my then long term boyfriend is now my husband. So I basically targeted Cleveland, the Cleveland market for jobs, and leveraged you know I talked to everybody that I could, that I knew in sort of the Cleveland network that I had, and to branch out to just like what are the companies? You know I Googled it what are the companies to work for in Cleveland? Who's hiring software engineers and what are the company's cultures like? And so I started from sort of like city then to company and then I'd picked a few companies and like, okay, these are companies I think I want to work for and I applied through the websites to all of them and most of them I say I don't know. Maybe I think I will list down to like five companies. Three of the five companies I like I hadn't in, so like I knew somebody who like used to work there or does work there or what. Have you interviewed them? You know? Call like hey, can you connect me to? Like oh, I heard your brother works, worked for this company. Can I meet him? Can I talk to him, you know? So I had some phone calls with people like what are they looking for in the interview and like what are the things that they value and how do I know if it's going well and try to get you know. Obviously this was now there's like website, like Glassdoor didn't exist then. In this way, you know, you can get this information online. Now. I couldn't get it online then and so met as many people as I could and, ironically enough, the people, the companies that I applied to, the jobs I applied to, where I knew somebody, those were the ones I had callbacks from and those are the ones I had and the ones that I did not know anybody I didn't get callbacks from. So I don't know that's like a sample size of one. I don't know. You know correlation versus causation. But yeah, I ended up taking the job that I ended up spending you know, almost a decade at that job that I first got in Cleveland. I was there for a very long time and it was amazing. But I, you know, I could look back from that moment and think like, okay, if I wouldn't have done this, this wouldn't have happened. If I wouldn't have done this, this wouldn't have happened, you know like there's a bit of like a butterfly effect that I do, which is like was it worth it? Like I'm working really hard, was all of this worth it? And like, yes, yes, it has been worth it.

Tim Bourguignon: 23:17
As the Frenchman living in Germany who met his wife in Chicago working for Siemens in an internship, I can relate a little bit. Oh boy, so you stayed 10 years with the same company. How did your role evolve during this time?

Brit Myers: 23:37
It evolved like crazy. So, and part of why I stayed for 10 years is it was just so much fun. I was working alongside amazing people solving awesome problems and like the company had changed so much it was like while I was there for a decade it was almost like I had worked for like five or six different companies over the course of that time because of how vast the projects were or how fast the sort of changes were and evolutions in the company. So you know, I started on a team of three as a junior software developer was my title and by the time I left I was the associate vice president of cloud engineering and managing over 200 engineers around the world and all the cloud native sort of development teams. So like that was the trajectory of like the company. You know, like when I started they had maybe a little less than like around a thousand employees total, but it was a 20 plus year old company, software B2B company. And you know, over the course of my career, by the time I left the company had 4,000 employees and numerous product lines and tons of acquisitions and it was just a you know every few years that it was a whole. Like I said, it was like a whole new company and it was just. It was fun, it was engaging, I learned so, so much. I had amazing mentors. Yeah, it was. I did not expect to stay there that long. When I applied, you know, I did not expect to stay there that long. Even just like after my first year, it was like, yeah, you know, this is fun, this will be cool, these people are nice. I'll stay a few years and then find the next thing. You know, as most people my age did, then I didn't end up doing that.

Tim Bourguignon: 25:16
Well, not to shabby anyway. So do you remember when you, when you transitioned from an individual contributor role to a management role?

Brit Myers: 25:26
Yeah, I, I'm sure they think years I'm so bad at years Um, so I mentioned I started on a small team and that team that I started on I became the team lead of and that was sort of you know, at the time it wasn't, it wasn't a tech lead, it was a team lead, and so it was, you know, all of the sort of career growth, responsibilities, with none of the hiring and firing and money, salary side, right, um, and so that really gave me a taste of you know, the impact, like the transition you have to make when going from an individual contributor to some form of like explicit leadership, like one of the things I had to learn was like how to let go and how to find the same sort of like satisfaction, not from using my hands on the keyboard all day, you know, 10 hours a day, five days a week or whatever you know. Um, and that was hard at first because you have this identity crisis of like, well, wait a second, like I, I have learned all, I've learned the skill, I've honed the skill and you hire me to do the skill and now I'm not using, I'm not doing this quite so much anymore. What am I even doing here, like you know, like I'd have more days than not where. It's like how, what did I even do today? You know, like what? What is it that you say that you do here? It's like, well, I talked to a lot of people, I helped some people through some stuff, we had some planning conversations, you know, and like it took, it took a while for that to feel like work. And even you know, this is a conversation we have with the team a ton which is even even still it's hard, it's hard to like innately feel that as work, but it is so much of the work because it's all of those interactions, all of that, like everything about that has Can have either a negative, positive or neutral effect on the outcomes that you're trying to give right. And so it's like, when you think of it in that perspective, like yeah, it's work, and sometimes it doesn't feel like it, but it is, and that that was probably one of the more harsh I don't know Lessons that I learned, so to speak.

Tim Bourguignon: 27:26
Is this direction you wanted to go, or where you pushed, or did you stumble in there? I?

Brit Myers: 27:32
I don't, I didn't explicitly want it in terms of like I did not. So, like the internship that I had in college and like the Sort of exposure, like the work experience I had, none of that was in. Like a large organization with a team and a management structure and a hierarchy of managers, right, like none of none of that existed, or at least it didn't exist in a way that, like I, I acknowledged that it was a reality. You know, like it was sort of opaque to me and so, from that perspective, there wasn't this like, oh, I worked for this great engineering manager and so what I want to be when I grew up is like, just like that person. Like I didn't have that, but I Always have sort of like naturally gravitated towards leadership roles. You know, if you think like Girl Scouts as a kid, or you know, like basketball teams, like who's like who wants to be the team captain, like I would be, I want to be the team captain and I wanted to have a positive influence on Other people. So, like, from that perspective, like I had, like my instincts said, leadership. But but what was this black box is like? But I don't actually know what leadership is like. I don't, I don't know, I don't know the ends, I don't know the outs, I don't know the politics, I don't even know what factors say whether or not you'd be good or bad, like I had no semblance of that and so because of that, I didn't have, I didn't have it sort of the. The title on my resume in the future, with the year, is like this is my goal, not, not at that point, and it was. You know, part of it was there was a vacuum, you know, somebody got promoted and so my boss got promoted and there was an opening and it's like, oh, do I want it? It's like, well, would it be bad for me? You know, I kind of go back to the like will it be? Well, it will be bad for my career if I take this and I thought, no, I mean, this would not be a bad move for my career. I'm either gonna love it or I'm gonna hate it, and if I hate it I just won't do it anymore. And now I'll know that's not the path for me, you know. And so I just sort of like use the same thing that I've used my whole life, which is there's a need and I think I could be good at it and I'm gonna build the relationships and try to do the best I can to make my boss happy and make him look good. You know, and and I took it and you know, was given the job.

Tim Bourguignon: 29:34
And it's been ten years you must be doing something right. So when you move to from one one job to the other so I have your, your LinkedIn open and and you have had quite a Few leadership positions or executive positions in the past years what do you look for in a in a next position? What is kind of your algorithm to vet a position and decide if you want to get there, especially with the, the, the point of view of having led a 200 you said 200 engineer team as a very beginning or at the end of this tenure tenure? What could you be looking for in in the next job?

Brit Myers: 30:15
Yeah, I. So it's a lot like individual contributors in the, in the, in the like Culture side. So culture is important, like for me, it's incredibly important. You know there are, there are ways that I believe this work should be done and if I work for somebody or with other people who have like too drastically different of this like ideal state of like how the job gets done, I know I won't thrive, I know I won't be successful and I'm, you know, setting myself up for these like ideological challenges. So you know, the, the cultural fit for me is like a combination of like ideologies and management ideologies in I don't know, like the socio-technical impact ideologies, like similarities in approach, like those, those things I look for now and those were things that I, like I had to sort of like through my management, whatever growth chart, whatever, like these were things I had to learn about myself, about like what, what works, what doesn't work, like how will it work best and how won't it, and so like all of those, all of those rows to the top for me, and so Especially like where I am. You know, I'm in my early 30s, I just got an MBA. Like I am in, I Want to grow, I want to learn and I want to have an impact, and so you know, I look for Like in where I landed system initiative. It's like I was looking for a team of leaders that I could both contribute to and learn from. You know that there were things that I had, that it would be like a net value add to the team, and that there were things I could take away and grow personally, and that was that was. That was yeah, that was a big thing for me. And the second piece is I I need to feel passionate about what we're building. So, like, whatever the business model is, whatever whoever the purchaser is on the end of the table, like it has to, like I want I want it to have a positive impact. You know I'm not, it's there, were, there have been plenty of jobs that I've turned down, that were more money, that were in a Vertical or in an area that it's like I just you know, like I'm not gonna put my heart into this because I just don't care. You know this isn't a space, this isn't a problem I think is worth solving, or you know, like it's not gonna keep me waking up, excited to come to work in the morning, like I need. I need to feel good about the work isn't, and this is like a you know I'm, I'm not a I Don't know how to describe it I'm not a purist in. I have these values and so I'm only going to go look, for, you know, I'm only going to look for companies that build tools in this space or like solving this problem. It's more like, can I understand the approach they're taking, can I understand the customers we're trying to sell to, and and do I want to help with that mission? You know I do, I want to do it, and that was that's the other piece that you know for, like, if you look at my LinkedIn, like I've never worked for a consumer's Product, I've never worked B2B, and so part and part of that is for this reason of like, I love the idea of Building something that lets customers, you know it, lets other companies do better things. You know it's, I think, this amplifying effect and I love the amplifying effect, and so, even as I look, I'm pretty focused. You know, b2b, I didn't. I did not consider effectively any other, any other sort of like software, software companies. For that reason, Looking me through lens of the amplifying effect, being in cloud and DevOps is kind of Really amplifying it is, and it's funny, like that even is that's a, it's an accident that this is the space that I have fallen most in love with, and by that I mean, you know, throughout my time at that first job. We just I like I just ran faced first into DevOps out of pure Like we have a problem to solve and like how can I solve this problem? You know, and the problem at first was we're planning in too big of chunks and we're project managing and All of these features that the team is building, none of them are being used. That doesn't feel like. That's not, it's just it doesn't feel like nobody feels good when that happens, and so it's like okay, so something we're wrong about, something like how can we be more right? How can we build things that people actually want, you know? And so what I thought was a Sort of scoping problem, I'm like ah, maybe it's an agile problem, you know, maybe we're just planning too big and maybe we're not taking you know we're having the right conversations, we're not talking about problems that we're trying to solve in the right way. And so I approached it from a very like process. Like our process isn't working because the outputs of the process is features that are being used. And so I experimented a lot to try to solve that problem of process, and I got to a place where I'm like man, I'm really proud of this product, like everything, looking at this process, like it should work. Why isn't it working? And it's like, oh well, it's not working because it takes us six weeks to deploy to production. So, even if the scope of the work is a two-week chunk of experimental AB like if I'm going to feature, flag a feature and ship it to production and see if they want it before we commit what was happening was we'd spend two weeks building something, six weeks trying to deploy it, two or three weeks fixing things as it went wrong. And now it was like oh so how did that two-week experiment go? Like, how is the new little button? And it was just so far apart so that you can see how the story ends with like, and then DevOps, because why does it take that long and why does it go wrong so often? And so it was purely from this, like I just want to have a better outcome. I want my engineers to feel fulfilled, I want them to be happy, I want them to be proud of the work that they're doing, because the more proud they could be, the better work that they do, the more that they grow. You know, it's like it's good for everybody and I ended up just right in DevOps and now it's been impossible to not see problems as DevOps problems sort of ever since, which is, you know, we, the feedback loops are too long, you can't collect. You know it's like there's all of these things and engineering leadership is well positioned and it is our job as managers to solve these problems, because this is these. You know, like that's the job description. It's like removing the roadblocks and what have you. So, yeah, it was an accident and I'm like just so happy because I just I love the space, I love the people and these problems. It doesn't matter what size of company you are, it doesn't matter you know what country you live in or what your product is Like. These are like ubiquitous problems. And so back to that amplifying effect. It's like, ooh, if we can solve these problems, think about the impact we can have. You know.

Tim Bourguignon: 37:26
It is it's exciting. It is indeed Coming back to the exact example you gave. Do you think that what is often sold as the, the promise of DevOps hitting for those maybe Dora metrics or whichever you call them, really shortening cycles, focusing on less, a measurable amount of issues, et cetera, would solve the problem, the process problems you had before?

Brit Myers: 37:57
I don't think so. I don't, I don't. Well, I think that they can help tell you what they can. I think all of what you just described can give you signals to like what the problems are to solve. So I don't think that the answer is in like, ah, if you, just if I could release on a dime, does that mean that I'm printing money? No, but if I can't release it on a dime, the likelihood that you can prevent money like is probably way lower. Right, and so I see all of those as like enabling, is enabling factors to get to the root problem for our industry, which is just the product development. Like that it's and it's it's not the problem. That is the business, the businesses like who can create the best product and then execute on delivering it and maintaining it over time, and like that thought process and that sort of that space is company building, it's product building, it's. You know that's not a software problem, that's just business. You know, is the business valid? Is it business viable? Am I building something that people want? Are they willing to spend money on it? Like those are the questions that are the hardest to answer, but all of these things end up being in the way of getting that answer and giving us false signals or giving us you know false hope. Potentially, if it goes, you know you can have you know signals that say, hey, we're really great in this area. Until you know it's like 90% of the time it works, 80% of the time, but 5% of the time it blows up 100% you know like you end up with all these situations where the answer to everything is it depends. And I think we really need to like, think about how we approach the space in terms of like, is it just tweaking these knobs to be faster on these, like in between steps, or is it actually like we're looking at the system fundamentally wrong? And if you looked at the system differently, like what could be possible, if, and that line of thinking is much more fun than the other, much more risky, but it is much more fun to sort of approach things from that way. And you know, as you know, startups kind of give you the exact sort of expectation that, like, that is what you're expected to do, is, you know, think in those ways, which is just, which is so fun, which is so fun.

Tim Bourguignon: 40:12
He meant to that. Is it the kind of thinking that led you to explore in an MBA or following an MBA?

Brit Myers: 40:19
Sort of. So I, in going back to what we talked about in terms of, like, being in the right place at the right time and are you ready? The MBA for me was more in that like, will I be ready? And what I know is that I like leading. What I know is that I like executing. You know, I'm not necessarily the idea person myself, like I wouldn't say I'm not the serial entrepreneur, like, yes, I have interesting ideas, but like, most of them I think, are garbage. But what I love to do is work with somebody who has amazing ideas that, like, everybody thinks are amazing ideas, and then, like, help them do it and then help figure out, like what the way is right. So if I run with that as sort of one of my strengths and something that I really enjoy doing is, you know, partnering up with creative folks and helping to solve the problems that they see and the ways that they see it will I at some point be in a situation where the information that I will have learned through a grad school program gives me, like, more context and more confidence in, like the decision-making process? You know? So it was on that lens, and then the other side was just, none of this matters and, like in today's society, none of it matters unless it makes money, which is like an unfortunate part of the game, but it's the game we all play and I want to win the game. So there's an element of like, if I can learn the game and speak the language of the game, which is speak the language of business, that I am, like again, best positioned to win the game that we all have to play, even if we don't want to, you know.

Tim Bourguignon: 41:55
I fully understand, don't have an MBA, but a couple of years of startup under my belt, which is kind of exactly the opposite, but the same thing.

Brit Myers: 42:06
Yeah, well, and that was the other calculus for me too, it's like all of what I learned, you know, all of what I learned. There are lots of ways to learn that information, and part of the degree for me and part of, like, the school that I went to was okay, yeah, I need to learn this information. But what if, like, in the process of learning it, I build these amazing relationships and meet some people who, like I, want to be in my inner circle and I want to be in my network, and that was like a huge part of it too, which, like, is like just, I don't know, you know, it's like a plus one.

Tim Bourguignon: 42:42
We're back to networking.

Brit Myers: 42:43
there Back to networking, yeah, yeah.

Tim Bourguignon: 42:47
That's fantastic. Sticking to networking and maybe to mentoring or helping younger developers. Is there some kind of advice that you give again and again?

Brit Myers: 43:00
Yeah, I, you know, as many people in the industry do. I'm somebody who suffered from extreme impostor syndrome and the thing that has helped me is just reminding myself that, like nobody actually really knows what they're doing. Like those people aren't as smart as you think they might like, or they are, and they make mistakes. Like you will make mistakes, everybody makes mistakes. Like, cut yourself some slack, the expectations aren't that high. You have higher expectations for yourself and don't beat yourself up. And that has like those having some of like those mantras or like a talk track to sort of like tone down my inner. Like you can't do this, you shouldn't do this, you're not qualified, you're, you know, like the chatter that happens in your brain, it's like yeah, yeah, and that person wasn't qualified, and then they did it and they rocked it, and so why can't that happen to you? Like you can make that happen. It's like, oh, yeah, okay, I can. So I think that that would be my piece of advice is don't. The world around you is not as perfect as it seems. Nobody knows exactly what to do 100% of the time. The only thing to do is just keep moving and just keep moving forward and don't overthink it. That would be, that would be my advice.

Tim Bourguignon: 44:10
And thank you for that, Not just for the show but also the personal note. I'm right in the middle of a 360. And so that's also good to hear, I can tell you. But it's been fantastic. Thank you so much for this role.

Brit Myers: 44:24
Thank you for having me. This is great, this was awesome, that was cool.

Tim Bourguignon: 44:27
Where would be the best place to continue this discussion with you?

Brit Myers: 44:30
Yeah, you can find me on LinkedIn. I'll send you the link. I do have a Twitter or whatever X handle, but it's not very active. I would say you know, if you're interested in sort of exploring more of the like socio-technical conversation or like more specific conversations. Sysminitiative has a discord with a bunch of sort of devops, focused folks and people passionate about the space. Would love to have you come pop in there and have some interesting conversations as well.

Tim Bourguignon: 44:56
And we'll add all those links in the show notes. So just scroll down and click on it and you'll be right there. Anything else you want to play in?

Brit Myers: 45:03
No, no, thank you so much, this was so fun.

Tim Bourguignon: 45:05
Fantastic. Thanks to you, and this has been another episode of the First Journey. I will see each other next week, bye, bye.