Sometimes we forget the humans behind the tech in our ever busy world. DSF is fortunate enough to know some incredible tech leaders across the world and has the privilege of hearing them present at our events. That being said, our Speaker Spotlight sets the stage to get to know our speakers on a more personal level and connect them with our growing community. Read the mini interview below!

A bit about Akmal

I help build global developer communities and raise awareness of technology through presentations and technical writing. I have previously held roles as a developer, consultant, product strategist, evangelist, technical writer and technical trainer with several Blue Chip companies and Big Data startups. I have published widely and edited or co-edited ten books. I hold a BSc (1st Class Hons.) in Computing and Information Systems, MSc in Business Systems Analysis and Design and a PhD in Computer Science. I am a Member of the British Computer Society (MBCS) and a Chartered IT Professional (CITP).

How did you start out in your tech career?

My first IT job was with Reuters in London working with real-time and database systems. I was very privileged to work with some of the smartest people I have ever met. In some ways, it was also an eye-opener as I worked with both old and new technology. This made me realise that green-field projects were quite rare. Many organisations have existing systems that still need to be maintained and enhanced.

What are the signs of success in your field?

Deliver projects to time, cost and quality. Work closely with stakeholders and budget owners to ensure that there are no unpleasant surprises. Identify and solve problems early to avoid costly mistakes later.

What is the best and worst thing about your job role?

My focus in the recent past has been as a Developer Advocate/Evangelist. The best thing about the job has been the opportunity to meet developers at meetups and conferences, understand their pain points and try and help them to do their job better by providing the necessary assets, such as technical content, code examples, and so on. I have also been very privileged to travel extensively globally and meet developers from many different countries. The worst thing has been the travel sometimes. Living out of a suitcase and being away from family for weeks at a time can be exhausting. But we are fortunate today that within a day we can be on the other side of the world.

What can you advise someone just starting out to be successful?

Learn everything that you can. Develop your skills by taking all the training that you can. Learn from your peers. Develop not just technical skills but also soft skills.

How do you switch off?

Watch movies. Read fiction. Voluntary work. Working with charities.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Be patient. Walk before you can run. Gain knowledge and experience from all sources, especially from your peers.

What is next for you?

Continue in the Developer Advocacy/Evangelist space as this has been very rewarding. However, it is important to adapt to change. The development of many modern AI tools could help developers so I need to stay on top of these developments. It is a fast-paced world with changes coming very rapidly.

If you could do anything now, what would you do? Why?

Farming. My ancestors were farmers. There is a certain attraction to being at one with the land and nature, growing your own food.

What are your top 5 predictions in tech for the next 5 years?

Very hard to make predictions. The pace of change is so rapid today. But the one thing that has caught my eye recently is the emergence of AI Chatbots. AI Chatbots and similar technologies will only improve in accuracy and help developers significantly, removing many tasks and allowing developers to focus on higher-level business problems and integrations.

Watch Akmal’s session at the Data Science Festival here.

Thank you to all our wonderful speakers for taking part in our Speaker Spotlight!

Want to become a DSF Speaker? Apply here!