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March 31, 2017

Q&A with Alexa Alley, DevOps Program Manager at Hearst Business Media

DevOps Enterprise Summit 2017

On the Importance of Continuous Learning (and Listening)

The DevOps Enterprise Summit London is only two months away. We can’t wait to hear from all of our talented speakers, network with industry peers and participate in DevOps Workshops. Most of all, we can’t wait to see many of you—old friends and new—for a week of fun and learning at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre June 5-6. If you haven’t purchased your tickets yet, the sooner the better as we are anticipating the conference to sell out.

Alexa Alley One of our many impressive speakers at this year’s DevOps Enterprise Summit London is Alexa Alley, DevOps program manager at Hearst Business Media. Hearst Business Media is a global technology company delivering information, insights, analytics and workflow solutions for finance, healthcare and transportation. Alexa helps lead and guide the progress of company initiatives across teams, business units, consultants and leadership. One of her responsibilities is to facilitate Value Stream Mapping workshops at Hearst and provide digital artifacts of workflows.

We’ve asked Alexa to share a bit more about her DevOps journey and pass on some of the tricks of the trade that have helped her succeed in her role.

DevOps Enterprise Summit: What are you most excited about for the upcoming event this June?

Alexa Alley: I am excited to get to meet more people in the industry, learn more about how culture is both the same, and different in Europe vs. the U.S, as well as how DevOps culture can be shared regardless of location. We are all facing the same challenges and get to learn from other DevOps thought-leaders from all over the world.

DOES: Can you discuss the biggest problem areas or challenges of large-scale DevOps transformations?

Alexa AlleyAA: Culture! Culture is by far the biggest challenge for large organizations. Transforming a business that has been creating a workflow and community for years that is now ingrained in the employees, leadership and processes is extremely difficult. Each part of the process needs to buy into a new culture, way of thinking and working as a whole organization, rather than individual teams, in order for the whole organization to move to a DevOps culture.

DOES: What are the top lessons you’ve learned while leading (or participating in) DevOps transformations?

AA: Communication and trust are crucial to the transformation. Each person needs to be open to communication with all members in the company. Leadership needs to communicate to employees and ensure they trust the workers and the business to do the right thing. The business has to trust its employees to make decisions to help move forward as needed—sometimes without the chains of approval, if it is time sensitive. Without two-way trust and communication, the transformation will stall out and ultimately fail.

DOES: Choosing a value stream for DevOps transformation deserves careful consideration. Which would you start with and why?

AA: After hosting many workshops to assist with this, we typically start with the SDLC (Software Development Lifecycle) value stream. Starting here helps address where there are bottlenecks in the Dev and Ops processes, but also where there may be even larger bottlenecks both before and after. After the SDLC workshop, word travels quickly, and content and product teams very quickly see the benefits of reviewing their own value streams to address inefficiencies that play into the DevOps lifecycle.

DOES: We’re all continuous lifelong learners: Share one lesson you’ve learned with the audience.

AA: Always be willing to listen to someone else’s opinion, especially if it differs from your own. It is amazing what you can learn, and what opportunities can present themselves from discussion and active listening.

DOES: What are the best strategies for enabling and injecting learning into daily work?

AA: I am continuously reading articles about trends, new technologies or achievements in the world (not always associated to tech). Talking about those findings with other people to discuss their thoughts and opinions forces me to broaden my understanding on a variety of topics.

Thanks for the great responses Alexa! Listening and learning are indeed important keys to success and we have built the DevOps Enterprise Summit as a place where people in all different roles within the industry can learn from one another and take back valuable lessons to their own workplace.

Join Alexa at the DevOps Enterprise Summit London by registering today! Glean more from Alexa’s insights about value stream mapping at Hearst from her presentation at DevOps Enterprise Summit San Francisco this past November.

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