The position of a CTO comes with a number of expectations and responsibilities.
You need to increase your knowledge and diversify your network. Updating your tech stack or scaling your development team might be in order at any given moment.
Representing your company’s technical vision by engaging in speaking opportunities, conferences, and media activities may also fall within your purview.
Lastly, hiring and retaining engineering talent is part of your job description as well, and it is one of the biggest challenges tech startups and established players face at the moment. Since the job market strongly favors talented developers, finding venues for CTOs to gain face time with prospective employees is becoming increasingly important.
So how do you go about accomplishing these goals?
Well, one great way to do that is to attend technology conferences focused on your tech stack of choice. The foundation of tech stack at the center of this article is Python.
What can you learn from the conferences?
The 8 conferences featured here can help address some of the biggest concerns keeping engaged CTOs up at night, such as:
- making technology decisions
- managing innovation
- keeping abreast of emerging technologies or frameworks
- improving coding skills, especially for startup CTOs
- managing the engineering team mix
Tips for getting the most out of the conferences
Here are a few suggestions you can use to get the most out of attending the conferences:
1. Apply to speak
This cannot be overstated. These events provide a great platform to share your ideas and stories. Moreover, it’s an opportunity to showcase a particular project with other developers, invite debate, and build connections. For more information on the subject, we recommend you visit PyBay or PyConUK.
2. Sponsor the event or grab a booth
Depending on your recruitment needs, this gives you a chance to meet potential developers face-to-face. It does involve bringing some extra team members, but the costs may well be justified. EuroPython has a page discussing the benefits of such an approach.
3. Download the conference app
Use the app in advance to craft your profile and schedule meetings. Here is an example from last year’s edition of PyConIE.
4. Make the most of the keynote speakers
Learn from other people who are driving innovation. Don’t shy away from engaging in the Q&A to press the speakers on key points you are interested in.
5. Join a hackathon or development sprint
For the hands-on CTO, this is a great way to contribute to an open-source project or even introduce one of your own. PyCon has an overview of what this encompasses.
6. Check out the jobs board
Some of these events actually allow sponsors to publish positions currently open for recruitment. PyCascades has an excellent example.
7. Network at the job fair or exhibition
Even without a booth, this can be the best tactic to reach talented developers. Check out PyCon Jobs Fair to understand how this is organized.
8 must-attend Python conferences in 2018
Python.org does a wonderful job of listing the top Python conferences globally. However, wading through the list can be cumbersome and some noteworthy regional events are left out.
With that in mind, we have selected and listed below some of the essential Python conferences that any CTO or Engineering Manager should consider attending in 2018.
The conferences are ordered by proximity to the actual date of the event. If you’re last minute, start from the top.
1. PyCon US
- Location: Cleveland, OH, United States
- Date: May 9–17, 2018
- Highlight: the original PyCon and the catalyst for other similar conferences globally
What to expect
The 1st edition of the original PyCon was held in 2003, in Washington D.C. Boasting an intimate group of 200 “Pythonistas,” the event was a far cry from the 3,400 attendees who made the trek to Portland in 2017. The conference is slated to take place in Cleveland for the 2018 and 2019 editions.
The hosts claim the 9-day event is actually set up to be 5 events in a row. These are broken down into the following days:
- Tutorial days – 3-hour sessions centered around learning new skills in Python
- Conference days – including keynote speakers, open spaces for informal discussions, lightning talks, and an Expo Hall
- Development sprints – to expand on an open source project, library, or the language itself
- Summits – Python Language Summit and Python Education Summit
- Job fair – aimed at developers looking to find their dream job
CTOs and VPs of Engineering should take advantage of the Expo Hall, having taken in all the newest discussions on their programming language of choice. Expo Hall allows companies to either sponsor a booth or use the venue to meet and recruit skilled developers to scale internal engineering teams.
For Spanish-speaking CTOs, PyCon will be introducing a track entirely in Spanish called PyCon Charlas for the 1st time. “Charlas” is a Spanish word, meaning “conference talks.” Genial!
- Location: Heidelberg, Germany
- Date: May 23–25, 2018
- Highlight: 15 talks on Django and 2 talks on languages or frameworks other than Django
What to expect
DjangoCon focuses on Django—Python’s “web framework for perfectionists with deadlines.” By a wide margin, Django is the most popular web framework used in Python. You can learn more about Python web frameworks here.
The 10th edition of DjangoCon Europe will take place in May in Heidelberg. The town is located between Frankfurt and Stuttgart, for those unfamiliar. Last year’s event—held in Florence, Italy—attracted 350 attendees from around the globe.
The 3-day event includes 3 days of talks and 2 days of workshops and sprints.
The 2017 edition of the event attracted Andrew Godwin and Marc Tamlyn, influential speakers and core developers at Django, as well as Tom Christie, author of the Django REST Framework.
- Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
- Date: July 23–29, 2018
- Highlight: EuroPython 2018 is the 17th EuroPython conference
What to expect
The hosts’ pitch for this year’s venue is to come join them in “sunny Edinburgh, Scotland.” Though it may be a bit of a stretch after 3 years in Spain and Italy, there is no denying that the location is spectacular.
The 1st EuroPython actually predates the 1st PyCon by a year. The original event brought together a small group of 240 attendees, while last year’s session in Italy saw over 1,200 guests.
The 7-day event is broken down into the following days:
- Monday, Tuesday – workshops and training sessions
- Wednesday, Thursday, Friday – conference days including an exhibition, keynote speakers, and panels
- Saturday, Sunday – reserved for hackathons
You can check out the ad for EuroPython here.
The conference will take place a week before the famous Edinburgh Fringe and Turing Festivals, giving you a unique opportunity to work the event into a longer vacation.
- Location: San Francisco, CA, United States
- Date: August 16–19, 2018
- Highlight: the event attracts 500 Bay Area Developers
What to expect
2018 will mark the 3rd edition of this annual Python event. More than 500 Bay Area “Pythonistas” descend on San Francisco for workshops and talks on Python, DevOps, IoT, and many more.
The conference also includes a 2-day Job Fair/Expo, allowing companies on the lookout for regional talent to sponsor the event. Given the mismatch between software development jobs and talent in this part of the US, it offers CTOs a chance to gain face time with prospective employees and pitch their company culture.
Past speakers include Simon Willison, co-creator of the Django web framework, and Armin Ronacher, creator of Flask. so aside from networking there is no shortage of talks on emerging technologies and frameworks.
Additionally, those interested in speaking at the event can submit a talk at PyBay’s call for proposals.
5. PyCon UK
- Location: Cardiff, Wales
- Date: September 15–19, 2018
- Highlight: PyCon UK Slack
What to expect
I attended PyCon UK back in 2016. While the travel plan from Poland wasn’t ideal—a flight to London, followed by a train to Cardiff—the event was worth the trip.
The 5-day conference attracts 500+ attendees, mainly focused on the UK. Over those days, attendees can join keynote presentations, talks and panels, as well as lightning talks and sprints.
As is the case with all conferences on this list, PyCon offers an option for companies to sponsor a booth and pair their conference efforts with recruitment.
Since 2016, a PyCon UK Slack is created every year for the purposes of putting together meetups and events with other conference attendees. The social channel provides networking opportunities for those unable to stick around over the entire 5-day session.
- Location: Tokyo, Japan
- Date: November 5–11, 2018
- Highlight: seeing as it’s a conference dedicated to Plone, I doubt I need to say anything more if you’re a fan
What to expect
For those unfamiliar with this small, passionate community of 200+ core developers and 800 contributors, Plone is a Content Management System (CMS) geared toward users of varying technical skill levels. Organizations such as NASA, Nokia, eBay, and the FBI have used Plone for both public-facing and internal websites.
Some developers I work with may take exception to Plone making this list, since it is considered to be outdated and increasingly redundant in certain circles. However, there is no denying that the CMS has a devout following, meeting up annually to discuss recent developments.
While the annual meetup focuses on Plone, conference track themes are quite diverse and may appeal to the larger Python community. According to Plone.org, these tracks include:
- Python Web (Django, Pyramid, WSGI, and more)
- Database (ZODB, NEO, SQLAlchemy, MySQL, PostgreSQL and more)
- Location: Dublin, Ireland
- Date: TBA 2018
- Highlight: 350 Python developers in one location
What to expect
In 2018, Ireland will be hosting the 9th edition of their popular PyConIE conference in Dublin. The date and venue are still to be announced, but if last year is any indication, the event will take place in Q4.
Dublin boasts large Facebook, Google, and Airbnb offices, making it a terrific place to interact with top developers who may be flying under the radar.
The conference includes 2 days of speakers—some international—with 2 tracks of lightning talks and workshops running in parallel.
PyConIE is the largest local software conference in Ireland, attracting more than 350 developers. This can lead to recruitment opportunities and event sponsorship, providing a focused venue to share company culture and exciting startup ideas with developers. They also have a conference app to schedule everything in advance.
- Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada
- Date: January 22–23, 2018
- Highlight: the 1st presentation was given by Guido van Rossum, the creator of Python
What to expect
Anyone who has ever visited Vancouver knows that you don’t need an excuse; however, if your employer is willing to foot the bill, all the better. Package that with Python user groups from Vancouver, Seattle, and Portland, and the 2-day session becomes one of top 2 regional events on this list.
Unfortunately, at the time of writing this, the 2018 edition had already taken place. I will update this list once the hosts make announcements about their 2019 event. My guess is it will be held in either Seattle or Portland.
PyCascades has a Job Board that can be an effective way for sponsors to leverage the brand and attract regional Python talent.
Honorable Mention – Tech Power Summit
- Location: Poznań, Poland
- Date: April 14, 2018
- Highlight: Python discussions alongside broader talks focused on Machine Learning, IoT, Blockchain, and React Native
What to expect
STX Next holds its very own Python conference, called the Tech Power Summit. The 2018 edition of the annual event will be our biggest to date. Aside from the traditional Python talks, we will also discuss the newest trends in software development, such as Blockchain, Serverless, React Native, and Machine Learning.
Recognized authorities from all around Europe gather at the summit to share their software expertise with attending executives. Guest talks by top-notch experts are combined with in-depth presentations by STX Next personnel to bring maximum value.
While the event is invite-only, we are discussing opening up the 2019 edition of the summit to the broader Python community. Check back here for updates.
Being a CTO means you’re obviously extremely busy and you can’t afford to attend every great Python conference out there, even if you wanted to. There’s a lot of work to be done, like updating your app, contributing to an investor’s pitch, or opening recruitment to expand your team.
That’s why if you only have time for one or two Python conferences in 2018, I strongly recommend PyCon US and/or EuroPython.
While there is a wide range of amazing Python conferences to choose from—some of which we’ve probably omitted—both PyCon US and EuroPython offer just the right combination of engaging discussions on emerging technologies and stimulating prospects of expanding your engineering team mix.
Pick either, and I promise you’ll get your money’s worth.
Know a Python conference that belongs on this list?
Thanks for taking the time to read through the list.
Do you agree with our selection? Feel we are missing a critical piece of information about the conferences listed? Know of another Python conference that should have made the list, but didn’t?
Feel free to leave us a comment. We’ll verify your suggestions and include them in our next update of the post, if we decide they could be of interest to CTOs.