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October 4, 2022

Analysis Of DevOps Enterprise Summit Speaker Titles (2014-2022)

By Gene Kim

Later this month, we’ll be holding our first live DevOps Enterprise Summit in three years—our sixteenth event since 2014!

One of my favorite things about DevOps Enterprise Summit has been the seniority of the speakers. They are such accomplished people doing amazing things.

I’ve observed that over the past eight years the speakers have been getting even more senior, as measured by their job titles. I’ve speculated that is because so many of our speakers have been promoted. And furthermore, the importance of the technology efforts that these people are leading warrant the attention of some of the senior business people in the organization.

(This is reflected in one of the main objectives of the conference programming, which is spanning the business/technology divide, as advocated for so articulately and passionately by Programming Committee member Courtney Kissler, CTO, Zulily.)

The speculation about the increasing seniority of job titles was based on observation, primarily during the process of creating the conference programming. However, I’ve wanted to do a more rigorous analysis for many years.

Well, over the weekend, I finally did it. And there were some genuine eye-openers.

It really amazes me just how senior our plenary speakers have been — I suppose this shouldn’t be surprising, as we invest so much time as a programming committee finding senior technology leaders who are doing amazing things.

I find it incredible that 40% of plenary speakers at 2019 Vegas and 2020 London Virtual were at the highest management level (“m04” represents EVP, CTO, Managing Director, CEO, or CFO), and 20% of 2020 Vegas Virtual were at the highest individual contributor levels (“e03” represents Principal Engineers, Solution Architects, Chief Architects, Distinguished Engineers, and Technical Fellows).


  • 15 DevOps Enterprise Summits
  • 977 talks in the Video Library
  • 1,489 speakers
  • 1.5 average speakers per talk
  • 506 companies represented

In the graph below, you can see the distribution of speaker titles, coded in the following way:

Legend: Job Codes

  • Individual contributors
    • e01: developer, engineer
    • e02: senior engineer, sre, staff engineer, arch, coach
    • e03: principal engr, solution arch, chief arch, distinguished engr, fellow
  • Managers
    • m01: manager, lead
    • m02: senior manager, product owner, director, senior director
    • m03: vp, head, svp, exec dir, cio, cso
    • m04: evp, cto, md, ceo/cfo

Interpretation of Results

  • It really amazes me how senior the plenary speakers are — I suppose this shouldn’t be surprising, as we invest so much time as a programming committee finding senior technology leaders who are doing amazing things. But it still blows me away how 40% of plenary speakers at 2019 Vegas and 2020 London Virtual were at the “m04” level, and 20% of 2020 Vegas Virtual were at “e03” level.
  • Over the years, we’ve also increased the percentage of talks from senior individual contributors — no surprise, as this this a technical field!
  • Over the years, the number of talks from senior managers (m03/m04) has increased as a % of speakers
  • And of course, titles aren’t everything — we need leaders at all levels, and often, titles don’t mean much on their own

(I did this analysis in Clojure, using the amazing clerk notebook library. This analysis was made so much easier because of the superb organization of the Video Library JSON data, thanks to the Gaiwan folks who wrote it. I’ll post the entire repo eventually, but you can see the main part that does the job title categorization here:

Companies Represented

Oh, and here’s a word cloud of the 600+ large, complex organizations that have spanned nearly every industry vertical.

With so many organizations represented, it’s fun to go to our Video Library and start typing in different company names to see if we have a talk from them. Often we do, and if not we’ll have someone else from that industry!

In a few short weeks, we’ll be adding even more organizations and senior speakers during DevOps Enterprise Summit Las Vegas, such as Mattel, Airbnb, and Gap— the full agenda is live here.

- About The Authors
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Gene Kim

Award winning CTO, researcher, and author.

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