kmatsudaira

Kate specializes in creating and operating large-scale web applications. Her focus has primarily rested on SaaS applications and big data. She has extensive experience building and managing high-performance teams, and considers herself a fan of agile development practices and the lean startup movement. She is currently founding her own startup, popforms, but has held roles as developer, project manager, product manager, and people manager at great companies including Amazon and Microsoft. The last seven years she has been a VP of Engineering/CTO for companies like SEOmoz, Decide, and prior to that Delve Networks (acquired by Limelight). Follow her blog katemats.com to see her writings on tech and leadership. She is also the curator of the Technology and Leadership Newsletter (TLN), as well as a cofounder of Recruiting Hacks.

Lessons Learned from Cultivate

Kate Matsudaira, co-chair of O'Reilly's first Cultivate Conference, shares her take-aways from the event

Last week I had the pleasure of co-chairing Cultivate.  The conference was one-day event focused on technology and leadership.

The Backstory

The original idea for the conference came from my co-chair, Eli Goodman, who wanted a place where like-minded folk could discuss some of the challenges, successes, and experiments that come along with leading technical teams.  I have been super passionate about this topic since I started my career as a bad manager, and I have had to work hard to build the skills necessary to lead groups of highly intelligent and opinionated people.

When we were planning the conference, we thought about all sorts of ways we could shake things up with format – panels, structured networking sessions, or even shorter/longer talks.  In the end, though, we decided it was most important to have fabulous speakers with compelling messages, so we stuck to a typical conference format (45-minute slots) and just let people do their best work.  The only thing we did differently was adding a closing networking event and morning yoga session to get things started, both of which were quite positively received.

I was so worried our speakers would overlap with one another’s topics, but thankfully each person had a clearly different message, style, and, when put together, they all added up a day where you couldn’t leave without learning something new.

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