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. 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.
Table of contents
d) PyCon US
f) PyCon UK
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 if you’re a startup CTO;
- managing the engineering team mix.
Here are a few suggestions you can use to get the most out of attending the conferences:
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.
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. PyCascades has a page discussing the benefits of such an approach.
Use the app in advance to craft your profile and schedule meetings. Here is an example from last year’s edition of EuroPython.
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.
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 2018 has an overview of what this encompasses.
Even without a booth, this can be the best tactic to reach talented developers. Check out the PyCon Jobs Fair from 2018 to understand how this is organized.
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 2019.
The conferences are ordered by proximity to the actual date of the event. If you’re last minute, start from the top.
- Location: Seattle, WA, United States
- Date: February 23–24, 2019
- Highlight: the 1st edition included a presentation given by Guido van Rossum, the creator of Python and now an “ordinary core developer”
What to expect
Anyone who has ever visited Seattle 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.
The 2nd edition of the Northwest PyCon includes key sponsors such as Google Cloud, Heroku, and Nexmo.
PyCascades is at the forefront of diversity and inclusion. Per the statement on their website, they are committed to creating “an inclusive, respectful conference environment that invites participation from people of all races, ethnicities, genders, ages, abilities, religions, and sexual orientations.”
This year, the hosts of PyCascades are also doubling their grants and scholarships for women and minorities. Childcare expenses are included in the coverage.
For more information, head over to the PyCascades subpage.
On an unrelated note, I strongly encourage those who plan on attending the conference to join the PyCascades Slack channel and get the chance to talk to the other attendees.
- Location: Austin, TX, United States
- Date: April 3–5, 2019
- Highlight: the event attracts 400 developers from all over the world
What to expect
2019 will mark the 3rd edition of AnacondaCON. More than 400 “Pythonistas” from every corner of the world will descend on Austin to attend lectures on data science, predictive analytics, machine learning, and many more.
The 3-day conference attracts a growing community of data scientists, IT professionals, analysts, developers, and business leaders—certainly a good mix for the networking CTO.
Machine learning, artificial intelligence, and deep learning are all topics of considerable interest for today’s executives. However, one tutorial that drew particular attention in 2018 was on machine learning with scikit-learn. It will most likely be run again this year.
This one is a must for CTOs seeking to understand whether an algorithmic approach to technology will provide better customer experience, increase business, and/or produce cost savings.
Last year, at least one group of attendees showed a lighter side at the conference when they debuted their deep-learning box-office thriller: PyCeption.
- Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
- Date: April 10–14, 2019
- Highlight: 30 talks from a list of 130+ talks are selected
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 11th edition of DjangoCon Europe will take place in April in Copenhagen. A city of cyclists, Copenhagen boasts more bicycles than inhabitants. So in order for you to fit in with the locals, we recommend grabbing a bike while in town.
Last year’s event—held in Heidelberg, Germany—attracted 400 attendees from around the globe. The 3-day event includes 3 days of talks and 2 days of workshops and sprints.
Can’t make it to the event? Not a problem.
DjangoCon will be streamed live online for those who can’t physically be at the event.
d) PyCon US
- Location: Cleveland, OH, United States
- Date: May 1–9, 2019
- 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 3,000 guests who attended in 2018.
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
Early-stage startup CTOs and VPs of Engineering who use Python should take advantage of Startup Row, having taken in all the latest discussions on their programming language of choice.
The organizers of PyCon US claim “StartupRow companies have been acquired by corporations such as Amazon, Rackspace, Splunk, and Baidu.” You can apply for a free booth if your startup:
- has over 16 employees;
- is older than 2,5 years;
- uses Python, of course.
2019 will mark the last time PyCon US takes place in Cleveland. Stay tuned for next year’s venue.
For Spanish-speaking CTOs, PyCon introduced a track entirely in Spanish called PyCon Charlas in 2018. “Charlas” is a Spanish word, meaning “conference talks.”
It was a very welcome addition, since around 12% of U.S. population speaks Spanish. Genial!
- Location: Basel, Switzerland
- Date: July 8–14, 2019
- Highlight: EuroPython 2019 is the 18th EuroPython conference
What to expect
In late 2018, the hosts announced that after an intense request for proposal process (RFP)—with more than 40 venues competing, 17 entries, and 2 rounds of refinements—Basel had won the chance to host this year’s EuroPython.
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 edition in Edinburgh saw over 1,100 guests.
The 7-day event is broken up 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.
I attended the event last year and was impressed to find a very solid mix of developers and C-Level executives.
f) PyCon UK
- Location: Cardiff, Wales
- Date: September 13–17, 2019
- 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 UK 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: Berlin, Germany
- Date: October 9–13, 2019
- Highlight: 1,000+ “Pythonistas” over the course of the 5-day event
What to expect
This year, two major Python conferences will team up: PyCon DE and PyData.
The event offers over 100 sessions dedicated to PyData topics such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and ethics, as well as Python topics like programming, DevOps, or Django.
The main conference consists of 3 days of talks and workshops, while the additional 2 days are dedicated to sprints.
PyCon DE & PyData will take place at the KOSMOS. Opened in 1961, it is the most modern film theatre in Germany.
- Location: Ferrara, Italy
- Date: October 21–27, 2019
- 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, 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: Poznań, Poland
- Date: March 9, 2019
- Highlight: Python discussions alongside broader talks focused on Golang, machine learning, IoT, blockchain, and React Native
What to expect
STX Next holds its very own Python conference, called the Tech Power Summit. The 2019 edition of the annual event will be our fifth and biggest to date.
Aside from the traditional Python talks, our top specialists will be discussing the latest trends in software development, including Golang, machine learning, IoT, blockchain, and React Native.
Expert lectures and in-depth presentations by STX Next personnel are followed by an exquisite gala with drinks and dancing to conclude the event.
Feel free to check out this playlist with hand-picked presentations from the previous editions:
And if you’re interested, click here to download the full agenda for the Summit.
While the event is invite-only, we are discussing opening up the 2020 edition of the summit to the broader Python community. Check back here for updates.
Being a CTO means you’re obviously extremely busy. 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 1 or 2 Python conferences in 2019, 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.
Thanks for taking the time to read through the list.
Do you agree with our selection? Think we’re missing a critical piece of information about the conferences listed? Know of another Python conference that should have made the list, but didn’t?
Go ahead and 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.
And if you’d like to learn how to improve your process of managing software developers, look no further.