9 Python Conferences to Attend in 2020 to Become a Better CTO

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Business, Python
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February 13, 2020: freshly updated for 2020!

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

I. What can you learn from CTO conferences?

II. Tips for getting the most out of Python conferences for CTOs

1. Apply to speak

2. Sponsor the event or grab a booth

3. Download the conference app

4. Make the most of the keynote speakers

5. Join a hackathon or development sprint

6. Network at the job fair or exhibition

III. 9 must-attend Python conferences in 2020

1. PyCascades

2. PyCon US

3. DjangoCon Europe

4. AnacondaCON

5. EuroPython

6. PyCon Africa

7. PyCon UK

8. PyCon DE & PyData

9. Plone Conference

10. Honorable Mention: STX Next Tech Power Summit

IV. Final thoughts

V. Your feedback

VI. Sources

Introduction to Python for Tech Managers

I. What can you learn from CTO 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 if you’re a startup CTO;
  • managing the engineering team mix.

II. Tips for getting the most out of Python conferences for CTOs

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 use the PyCon US page as a point of reference.

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. PyCascades 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 EuroPython.

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 US has an overview of what this encompasses.

6. Network at the job fair or exhibition

Even without a booth, this can be the best tactic to reach talented developers. Check out the PyCon Jobs Fair from 2019 to understand how this is organized.

III. 9 must-attend Python conferences in 2020

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 2020.

The conferences are ordered by proximity to the actual date of the event. If you’re last minute, start from the top.

1. PyCascades

PyCascades

What to expect

This year, PyCascades moved to Portland, Oregon. No wonder: the organizing team includes members of the Vancouver, Seattle and Portland Python user groups, and the first two cities hosted the event during the previous two editions. The conference aims to bring together people not just from the Pacific Northwest, but all around the world.

The 3rd edition of PyCascades included key sponsors such as  Microsoft Azure, Nexmo, and Twilio.

Now, let’s wait for the 2021 edition!

Fun fact

PyCascades is at the forefront of diversity and inclusion. Per the statement on their website, they are committed to follow the Python Software Foundation's diversity statement: "Our community is based on mutual respect, tolerance, and encouragement, and we are working to help each other live up to these principles. We want our community to be more diverse: whoever you are, and whatever your background, we welcome you."

PyCascades offers grants for “people with relatively low income, speakers, active builders of Python community, notable open source contributors, and people in need of childcare,” but they encourage everyone whose budget would suffer from attending the conference to apply

For more information, head over to the PyCascades subpage.

2. PyCon US

PyCon US
  • Location: Pittsburgh, PA, United States
  • Date: April 15–23, 2020
  • 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 3,300 guests who attended in 2019.

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 fewer than 15 employees;
  • is younger than 2,5 years;
  • uses Python, of course.

Fun fact

For Spanish-speaking CTOs, PyCon introduced a track entirely in Spanish called PyCon Charlas. “Charlas” is a Spanish word, meaning “conference talks.”

It was a very welcome addition, since around 12% of the U.S. population speaks Spanish. Genial!

3. DjangoCon Europe

DjangoCon Europe
  • Location: Porto, Portugal
  • Date: May 27–31, 2020
  • Highlight: This November the first edition of DjangoCon Africa will be hosted. Stay tuned for more news!

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 12th edition of DjangoCon Europe will take place in May in Porto. It’s hard to imagine a better place for a trip! Spend a few days wandering the historic city center, take a cruise across the river, lie on the beach, or visit one of the famous wine cellars. And learn more about Django, of course.

Fun fact

DjangoCon Europe offers a grant program that “prioritises speakers first, and then anyone who is part of an under-represented or marginalised group.”

The conference also claims to be sold out every year, so make sure to grab a ticket while it’s available.

4. AnacondaCON

AnacondaCON
  • Location: Austin, TX, United States
  • Date: June 3–5, 2020
  • Highlight: the event is focused on data science and machine learning.

What to expect

2020 will mark the 4th edition of AnacondaCON. Hundreds of “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. Every year, AnacondaCON devotes the first day for running “product- and package-specific tutorials”—last year, they focused on SciKit Learn, GPUs, the Anaconda Enterprise platform, and more. The number of seats is limited, so don’t miss out 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.

Fun fact

Last year, the convention finished with a giveaway drawing, courtesy of Anaconda and NVIDIA. Let’s see what kind of surprise this year’s edition holds.

5. EuroPython

EuroPython
  • Location: Dublin, Ireland
  • Date: July 20–26, 2020
  • Highlight: EuroPython 2020 is the 19th EuroPython conference

What to expect

Actually, EuroPython 2020 is still under construction. The full version of the official website will be launched late February/early March and the Call For Proposals will follow soon after. You still have a chance to become one of the speakers!

The 1st EuroPython actually predates the 1st PyCon by a year. The original event brought together a small group of 240 attendees. Now, the number of participants is close to 1200 every year.

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

Fun fact

I attended the event two years ago and was impressed to find a very solid mix of developers and C-Level executives.

The Ultimate Guide to Hiring Software Developers

6. PyCon Africa

PyCon Africa
  • Location: Accra, Ghana
  • Date: August 4–8, 2020
  • Highlight: the 1st pan-African Python conference

What to expect

The event in August will be the second edition of the first ever pan-African conference of its kind. The University of Ghana, which is where the event will take place, was also the venue of PyCon Ghana in 2018.

Last year, the event’s agenda was packed and included workshops, talks, sprints, and more. This year, we can only expect the same.

Fun fact

Ghana has an active Python community. Check out the Twitter account of PyLadies Ghana to see what they’re up to.

7. PyCon UK

PyCon UK
  • Location: Cardiff, Wales
  • Date: October 10–14, 2020
  • 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.

We’re still waiting for more announcements about this year’s edition.

Fun fact

Apart from the typical convention panels, PyCon UK 2019 hosted a few additional activities that they proudly announced at the top of their website.

In cooperation with Django girls, the organizers threw a one-day free Python course for beginners. Raspberry Pi Foundation and CoderDojo curated a Children’s Day initiative to teach the basics of coding to the youngest attendees. And in the evening, the participants could try their luck in board games and… manual crafts. Knitting a scarf at a Python conference? Only in the UK.

I hope this year the conference will be just as exciting and light-spirited.

8. PyCon DE & PyData

PyCon DE & PyData
  • Location: Berlin, Germany
  • Date: October 14–16, 2020
  • Highlight: 1,000+ “Pythonistas” over the course of the 5-day event

What to expect

Last year, two major Python conferences eamed up: PyCon DE and PyData. This year, the cooperation will continue.

The official website for the 2020 event hasn’t been launched yet, so stay tuned!

In 2019, the conference offered 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. I’m sure we can expect a program just as rich this year.

Fun fact

By the end of 2019, all the conference videos were released on YouTube.

9. Plone Conference

Plone Conference
  • Location: Namur, Belgium
  • Date: November 16–22, 2020
  • 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.

Fun fact

While the annual meetup focuses on Plone, conference track themes are quite diverse and may appeal to the larger Python community. According to this year’s call for proposal, the topics will include “not just Plone, but also related technologies such as Volto, Guillotina, React, Angular. And of course topics such as accessibility, user experience, documentation, continuous integration, community organizing and others.”

10. Honorable Mention: STX Next Tech Power Summit

STX Next Tech Power Summit
  • Location: Poznań, Poland
  • Date: April 25, 2020
  • Highlight: Python discussions alongside broader talks focused on AI, React Native, cloud technologies, Agile, and more.

What to expect

STX Next holds its very own Python conference, called the Tech Power Summit. The 2020 edition of the annual event will be our sixth and biggest to date.

Aside from the traditional Python talks, our top specialists will be discussing the latest trends in software development, including AI, React Native, cloud technologies, Agile, and more.

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:

Stay tuned for the full agenda of the Summit!

Fun fact

While the event is invite-only, we are discussing opening up the 2021 edition of the summit to the broader Python community. Check back here for updates.

IV. Final thoughts

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 2020, 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.

V. Your feedback

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.

We also have handy lists of must-read books and essential blogs for CTOs, should you prefer to hone your capabilities from the comforts of your home, rather than go on conferences.

And if you’d like to learn how to improve your process of managing software developers, look no further.

VI. Sources

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Author

Matthew Harris

Director of Business Development

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