My boss asked me to write up my job description the last time I was out in Cupertino. I’m sure this isn’t what he had in mind, but I’m going to share it here for all to see.
What I Do
1: I represent Zend.
Ok, sometimes I do it well, other times, I try and avoid embarrassing them but for better or for worse, my job is to represent Zend to the PHP community at large.
I let people know just how cool of a company Zend is and how great it is to work there. This might sound a bit too touch-feely but in reality it has a hard and fast metric that I use to measure success. I know I have been successful when a Zend employee hands someone their business card and the response they get is
“You work at Zend? How cool is that?”
Because it is cool, damn cool, and it’s my job to let people know that. It’s a damn sexy company to work for and the pay is decent. Honestly, either one of those is a reason to go to work for a company but only one of those will keep you there long-term. Can you guess which one?
2: I manage DevZone
I feed the content beast that is DevZone. Sometimes I do it myself, sometimes, I help others do it but in the end, a large part of my time is spent writing or wrangling original content for DevZone.
3: I scout talent
Every conference, BarCamp or usergroup I go to, I am constantly looking for the best and brightest to pitch to the managers at Zend looking to hire. This is a cool part of my job because I love helping developers find positions at cool companies. I’ve done it for almost 10 years now and it’s still fun. Short of building and managing development teams, scouting talent is probably the funnest part of my job.
What It Takes To Do What I Do
First and foremost, you have to be a developer, specifically, a PHP developer.
I know I will ruffle some feathers with this one but it is my opinion that everyone at Zend should be able to write something in PHP. I mean no disrespect to my non-nerd co-workers but it’s the way I feel. Honestly, if you never wrote OO in PHP 4, how can you extol the virtues of the object model in PHP 5? If you have never had to compile Apache and PHP on a Linux box, how do you know that Zend Core is wonderful? If you have never had to manage a production server, how do you know that Zend Platform is great?
Most importantly though, if you’ve never had to work for a company where management expects developers to “do whatever it takes” yet still pays them for a 40 hour work week, how can you appreciate how much more productive you can be and how you can regain your sanity as a developer by using tools that actually increase your productivity instead of your complexity? So to do what I do, you have to actually be a developer.
Running a close second though is you have to love developers.
I was at ZendCon last year when someone came up to me and said “You are not a developer are you?” Now I’ve been a developer for more than 25 years so I was a bit taken aback by this comment. I explained this to him and he looked at me and and smiled and said something to the effect “You are way too outgoing to be a developer.” What he didn’t know is that I’m usually very introverted.
I just got back from a planning meeting for the upcoming BarCamp Nashville during which I probably didn’t say 10 words. Around most groups of people, I sit quietly and listen. Put me in a room of developers though and it’s a whole different story. As Johny Phoenix is fond of saying…”my people”. I can sit and talk shop with other nerds till the wee hours of the morning. So, the second skill you have to have to do what I do is you have to love developers.
The third skill you have to have to do my job is an unquenchable thirst for all things new. In my duties as a representative of Zend I attend, and occasionally speak at, conferences world-wide. That’s right, you heard me, I get paid to attend conferences. My boss often makes the joke that I don’t attend conferences, I take mini-vacations on the company dime, and he’s not far wrong. (but not in the way he thinks.) I love learning. I was teasing someone a few weeks ago at php|tek by telling them that I attend so many conferences per year that I’m working on my PHD in PHP. How I do love to learn, if I didn’t this job would get old in a hurry. I’m on the road these days more than I’m off but at each conference I attend, I learn something new. That gives me fodder to feed the DevZone beast as I share what I’ve learned with others. So you have to have a passion for learning to do this job.
So there you have it. That is what I do and what it takes to do it.
Boss, I hope this is helpful, although I’m guessing you want something more formal. :)
Until next time,