In this pregame podcast for The DEVOPS Conference Scandinavia, Marc introduces special guest Pinja Kujala. Along with Andy, they discuss The DEVOPS Conference Live, scheduled for October 23rd and 25th, 2023, in Stockholm and Copenhagen.

Get the lowdown on keynote speakers and their topics, from the practical use of AI in software development to the importance of security in the development process and building with empathy—crucial in creating a positive developer experience (DevX).

Marc (00:06): Welcome to The DEVOPS Conference Scandinavia pre-game podcast. For this episode and a few others, we're going to invite some speakers from the conference into the sauna, the DevOps Sauna. And today we have a very special guest, Pinja Kujala. Hi, Pinja.

Pinja (00:25): Hi there. 

Marc (00:26): So nice to have you here. And I have my usual cohort Andy Allred. 

Andy (00:31): Hello, hello.

Marc (00:32): Hello, hello. So on the 23rd and 25th of October 2023 in Stockholm and Copenhagen, we are holding The DEVOPS Conference Live. So in-person event where you can come and see some really interesting talks. Now, Pinja, what are you doing at the conference this year?

Pinja (00:50): Well, actually, Marc, don't you know what I'm doing at the conference? <laughs>

Marc (00:56): This is kind of a joke as Pinja and I are once again hosting this set of conferences together. So it's really nice to have you here, Pinja. And talk about a little bit behind the scenes how we do this. And we're also going to talk a little bit about some of the keynote guests that we have coming to speak with us. Pinja, let's do a little bit of background. When did you start hosting conferences?

Pinja (01:21): That is not a very long story, I must say. The first conference I ever hosted was in March this year, which was The DEVOPS Conference 2023 Global, the one we did online, it was fully online at that time. So that was the first conference ever for me.

Marc (01:36): It was really cool to be a part of it with you, and to prepare the thing together, and to get to do the execution. And we brought a lot of energy to each other and a lot of energy, I think, to the stage when we were only speaking basically to a camera and a little bit of crew that was around the studio. And this one's going to be really exciting because we're going to have two packed houses full of people who are excited to see what's about to happen. And then we're also going to have all these fantastic speakers in real life and in the flesh in Stockholm and Copenhagen. 

Pinja (02:09): That’s what I was thinking as well, there's a difference between having an online setting when you need to create that energy between yourselves and the audience who's fully online. All of the speakers were online, enabling that connection when there is nothing physical, you cannot have that eye contact is so different from this. And that's one of the greatest things that we achieved during that global conference was that, at least based on the comments section, the Q&A section, we had a very lively audience there the whole time. 

Marc (02:43): That's really cool. And these conferences, the in-person ones, especially, they have a really nice energy level. And for me, it feels fantastic to be able to go into a room of people who all really want to help one another and want to create really good experiences for their colleagues and their customers.

Pinja (03:02): There is a huge opportunity for people to have those lightbulb moments when you see that like, I actually got something new out of this. This is something that I'm going to really use. We got some of those moments for- they were actually visible to us in the global conference as well in the comment section, in the Q&A's, but now we can actually see that live.

Marc (03:22): Yeah, it's really, really cool. And the way that these conferences are structured is such that there's plenty of time for networking in between each talk. And then, of course, there's the usual lunchtime and other networking opportunities. But it's really nice to be able to have that focal point of the guest and then come out and have a lot of really excited people to talk about it with.

Pinja (03:43): Exactly. So having that high mind collected, we have a lot of good people in the house. So it's going to be amazing experience.

Marc (03:52): Cool. What's your favorite part of doing this type of work?

Pinja (03:57): As we are the enablers of that connection, just to see that thing happen there live is a huge reward for me for doing this kind of job. But in addition, I must say that it is just see the people who are experts in their own area. They're the experts, I must say, and have that light in their eyes when they talk about their own thing that they're so invested in. Those are the highlight for me in this kind of job.

Marc (04:24): I like that there are two things there that you said that were really neat. One is the aha moment and seeing people get it, which is really cool. And then the other side is the passion that people bring.

Pinja (04:33): Yeah, it's always about, like, when you see that people can share their own knowledge. Because it's not only about yes, I'm passionate about this, but wow, I get to talk about this. So a lot of people are interested in this, so the speakers are getting a lot out of that experience as well.

Andy (04:49): So when I was speaking at a conference, it's really cool to see exactly as you said, see that lightbulb moment and you see people are getting it. And it's amazing and obviously, I speak on a podcast, whatever, but I've never really hosted the conference. And I'm not sure if I would want to, that's a different thing. But it sounds exciting, it sounds really interesting. But I'm curious, Pinja, how do you prepare for that?

Pinja (05:13): Whatever it is, whatever I do, I want to be well prepared. I'm the kind of person who wants to know a lot of things beforehand. For the global conference, I went to see who are the speakers? What are they going to be talking about? What is their background? I went to see their previous talks, for example. There was a lot of work and effort from so many people for that conference, for example. We had a lot of prep from the technical side because it was fully online there, so there’s got to be of course, technical prep for these ones as well. But the funny thing is that there's always going to be surprises. There's always going to be something that doesn't go according to the very detailed plan that I have in my head. But what I want to have in my head is the red thread. I want to have that kind of that theme for something to come back to because that helps. Even though something doesn't go according to the plan, we can always get back to the red thread and just follow that because there might be something that we need to come up on the spot. 

Marc (06:07): I'll have to mention this one that I've been a part of a lot of these events, and there is an innumerable amount of things that go wrong, you're trying to find the speaker that hasn't showed up yet. Or you're trying to figure out the next speaker is not quite ready, or they're giving you like this sign like could you please wait a moment, I'm not ready online and you're looking at the thing and you're standing on the stage. And I do want to remind our listeners that The DEVOPS Conference Scandinavia is not only for those of you in or traveling to Stockholm and Copenhagen, it is also available online globally. I want to talk about a conference moment because I remember in the previous year’s online, The DEVOPS Conference, Andy got to host a fire chat with one of I think many, many people's heroes, a certain Mr. Kelsey Hightower, and then I got to be there when I saw Andy meet Kelsey face to face. And would you like to tell us about that experience, Andy?

Andy (07:09): That was just great. First of all, doing the fireside chat with Kelsey. And just like, I'm the one who gets decide the questions and pick his brain was just awesome. And he's, of course, a fantastic guy. And then that was just a really nice experience. But then when we went to Copenhagen, and he walks in the door and said, hi, Kelsey, hi, Andy. He remembered me. Okay, cool. And then we made our way over and he did the conference or he did his keynote, little bit of prep, and working with the host and whatnot, and getting stuff ready. And then when it was done, just we happen to go to the other room and just had a chat with him. And he was so personable, and just spent his time focused on me and my questions and our chat, and it was great. Then we walked out to the conference hall during the next break, and everybody who he came up or who came up to talk to him, he gave this same one on one focus and just forgot everything else around him. He just focused on the person he was talking to. And it was amazing. First of all, okay, I got one on one time with Kelsey Hightower, that was great. But then just seeing how he does that for everybody. And realizing that that's the benefit of these conferences, you can run into Kelsey Hightower, or Marc Dillon or anybody who knows, but you get this connection because you're there to learn something, you're there to get something out of it. And so is everybody else, they're looking for the same thing. So this so called hallway track can be the most beneficial part. Then when it's the hybrid online thing, how do you replicate that? It's tough, and it's hard, but we have great hosts bringing that energy.

Marc (09:01): Yeah, the it's one of the greatest empathetic tools that I have worked on since meeting Kelsey in that conference is that when you speak with someone one on one, make sure that they feel like they're the only person in the world. And I think that's a really powerful thing that he was able to demonstrate. He used to be, he's retired now, but one of the most in demand speakers in in the tech world. So really, really cool. And there was another thing that he talked about in the conference. And I'll go to Pinja for this one, based on your experience, well, you're doing it again, hosting another conference. So I see that it was a positive experience for you. But do you encourage others to get up and give talks or take the opportunity to get on the stage?

Pinja (09:47): Yeah, absolutely. There is that jittery feeling you get beforehand that oh, my God we're really doing this and getting your energy up and hopping yourselves out. In our case, we could do that together and just helping each other out, and hey, we're going to do this, this is going to be awesome. And I wasn't too nervous when we're doing it, to be honest. But then again, I go back to the Energy Board, the afterwards feeling that's still hyped-up energy. And it is a very, very strange experience to have that last for many, many hours afterwards to be honest. We did two days in March. I think it lasted for a couple days after that. So having all that so many awesome people around us who were experts in their own area, we have the technical people and our own marketing people, everybody who made that possible. I think it was like a communal experience, I must say. So if you have that chance, if you have the feeling that you would have something to talk about, whether you're a presenter, or a hosting job, or you want to speak of a topic that is close to your heart, I must say it is a very energizing experience.

Marc (11:05): Hi, it's Marc again, we'd love to see you at The DEVOPS Conference 2023 in Stockholm on the 23rd of October, and then Copenhagen on the 25th of October, get your ticket at Now, back to the show.

Marc (11:17): One of the things that you talked about, Pinja, which I think is really interesting, you talked about preparation, and then you talked about energy and nervousness. And what I've learned is that everybody's going to be nervous, I've been on hundreds of stages, thousands of stages, even, but the more prepared you are, then the more you can take that energy and give it to the audience.

Pinja (11:39): Yes, I fully agree.

Marc (11:40): And I think that's really important. And just for those who are thinking about getting up on the stage, so one of the things that we talked about in the last couple of conferences really is that when you do this type of work as either a developer or a DevOps practitioner, and agile practitioner, or many other roles in IT, and you think about what your reach is for affecting other people's lives in a positive manner, it's really wonderful. And then if you're able to get up onto a stage, I always say, if I can affect one person and have one person's life be a little bit better because of the work that we did, then it makes it all worthwhile. And the audience wants you to succeed. So everybody gets nervous, everybody wants you to succeed, and you have more opportunity to better yourself and others if you take the leap of courage to get up there.

Pinja (12:35): And even if you think about going on a stage and speaking of a topic that is close to your heart, it's always going to be a learning experience, no matter how experienced and how seasoned you are in speaking. You can be the expert in your area, but once you get to the Q&A section, when we start getting the questions from the audience, as somebody's thinking about it a little differently than you are. I've seen those moments there as well, that somebody's asking really good question that makes the speaker who has years of knowledge and experience on their side, they go like, wow, I learned something new about this today.

Marc (13:11): Awesome. So, Andy, our next part, what would you call this? Is it pretty lights of the conference?

Andy (13:20): It's kind of hard to say it's highlights because it hasn't happened yet. It's a premonition parts or I don't know.

Marc (13:29): Pre-highlight premonition parts. But what we would like to do is we'd like to highlight a couple of the keynotes and speakers. We don't want to exclude anybody here, but we're taking a few of them that we're really excited about. We're excited about them all. But there's a few. I'm absolutely thrilled. I'll take the first one that Patrick Dubois is coming to speak. The topic is from ChatGPT, which has a huge discussion point right now. From ChatGPT to production, opper- help me, Andy, oppera <laughs>

Pinja (14:08): Operationalizing. 

Marc (14:21): All right. Thank you. Operationalizing generative AI from ChatGPT to production. Operationalizing generative AI from Patrick Dubois. And there's so many elements to this opening keynote. The first one is Patrick has a quote from a few years ago on Twitter that is one of my favorite definitions of DevOps, that simplifies it right down almost to the bare metal that DevOps is overcoming the friction of the silos and everything else is pure engineering. I think that's really cool. And then on this on this AI side of things, Andy is- are you talking much about AI these days?

Andy (14:48): No, not at all. Just every single conversation that feels like. There's so much in the news and so much on people's minds that it's hard not to talk about AI, but then it's really a question of okay, yeah, it's interesting ChatGPT, you can get some funny poems or some memes, or some interesting way to phrase a business case or something. But what's it really, really good for? And what's the right way to look at it and think about it to bring some tangible benefit. And those are the more interesting conversations. But quite often, it's just AI as a buzzword without getting deep. And I hope we can get deep on some kind of topic.

Marc (15:36): I think we have an opportunity to get deeper, not only with Patrick Debois' keynote, but with our second keynote. So Pinja, I believe you were really excited about this one.

Pinja (15:47): I am. We have Joseph Katsioloudes from GitHub, and he's going to be talking about human versus AI. How to ship secure code because once again, everybody's talking about AI, but not on the level that how do we really use it? And many companies are now looking into their policies, how can we use this? And how can we really do this in a good and secure way? And how can we shift our software development practices using AI? So for that reason, this is a very interesting one, looking into the practicalities of things. He's going to be sharing some case stories there as well. 

Marc (16:23): Really, really cool. Thank you. I'm going to highlight this couple of tracks, like many conferences in between the big keynotes, and one of the track talks jumps out at me, and I happen to know quite well the speaker on this topic. And I've actually even heard a little bit about the topic where I'm almost starting to think that I understand it. So Andy, you're giving a track talk on eBPF. And you have a really interesting angle on this one, would you like to give us the angle?

Andy (17:07): Well, as frequent listeners might have heard by now, I started my career in the US Navy, doing electronic warfare, communications on navigation on nuclear-powered fast tech submarines. And so I'm going to talk a lit- 

Marc (17:23):  Are they turbocharged, Andy? 

Andy (17:24):  They do have a turbo, yes. <laughs>

Marc (17:27):  Okay. 

Andy (17:28):  So I'm going to talk a little bit about that experience. And then what can software companies learn from that? Because I think there's some pretty interesting lessons in there. We even did an episode a while back on that, and then taking those ideas, what kind of tools do we have to help us with that. And of course, in the infrastructure level world, eBPF is kind of all the rage. It's like AI for the real geeks kind of level of hype. So I'll then talk a little bit about what eBPF is. So eBPF is quite the rage in the infrastructure level, maybe not as much hype as AI, but getting close there. Everything's about eBPF this eBPF that, so I'll talk a little bit about what eBPF is and how it applies to these lessons, which I learned from the Navy and which I think that could be applied to software companies. 

Marc (18:22): All right. Thank you, Andy. Another keynote that's quite interesting in the afternoon session, would you like to tell us about building with empathy, Pinja?

Pinja (18:23): Yes, we got Pia Nielsen from Spotify to come to speak to us. And her angle is that of course them how they see their internal developers at Spotify asked our customers how to build that developer experience based on empathy and how they use that as a foundation of their engineering culture. And developer experience has been one of the biggest topics of of DevOps for the past couple years and rightfully so, is one of the big trends right now and I think it has really cemented its place in the decision makers minds and the C suites minds as well that how do we make our developers feel better in their jobs? And this is one really good talk about that.

Andy (19:07): And you asked me earlier, Marc, to help you and you're struggling with operationalization and I was just going to smile and watch you struggle. So maybe I'm going to go to this keynote on empathy and try to find some.

Marc (19:19): He's a good friend of mine, Andy. So we are used to this type of empathetic discussion. We also have some lightning talks.

Pinja (19:32): We do. This is something that we have done in the previous conferences as well. So for the lightning talks, we're going to have four speakers, and there is a five-minute slot for each of them and no more, so they're going to have to be very fast and very efficient in their deliveries and what they're going to be talking to us. So this is something I'm very excited about this part of the program as it's got this special energy to it. And it's fun to see how people can actually make their pitches and make their speeches into that five-minute slot. And it's got some very special qualities to it.

Marc (20:11): It sure does. The energy is always really interesting with the lightning talks. And there's a break just after the lightning talks, as well so that you have an opportunity. If one or more of those talks speaks to you, then you'll be able to get up and go meet the person and have a conversation. But really, really interesting. All right. So tell me how do you feel, Pinja, about the conference coming up?

Pinja (20:34): I'm super excited if you get out of hearing from my voice. I can't help it. But it's something I'm very interested and very excited about right now. It's going to be an awesome program. It's going to be an awesome event out of those days.

Marc (20:47): All right, it sure is. And I'm really happy that we had this pregame Podcast. I'm super excited. Okay, thank you so much, Pinja. It's going to be a pleasure to host this conference with you. Thank you so much, Andy. It's going to be a pleasure in order to hear you talk about what software companies can learn from submarines. This is the DevOps sauna pregame podcast. Thank you, and we'll see you at the conference. 

Andy (21:16):  Thanks. See you there.

Pinja (21:17): Thank you. See you there.

Marc (21:24): Before we go, let's give our guests an opportunity to introduce themselves and tell you a little bit about who we are.

Pinja (21:31): Hi, I'm Pinja Kujala. I'm an agile and product management coach at Eficode. I'm also co-hosting with Marc Dillon The DEVOPS Conference 2023 in Stockholm and Copenhagen.

Marc (21:44): My name is Marc Dillon. I'm a lead consultant in the transformation business at Eficode.

Andy (21:49): My name is Andy Allred, and I'm doing platform engineering at Eficode.

Marc (22:00): Thank you for listening. If you enjoyed what you heard, please like and subscribe, it means the world to us. Also check out our other interesting talks and tune in for our next episode. Take care of yourself and remember what really matters is everything we do with machines is to help humans.