Who makes a good developer advocate?

Michael Ludden / November, 2017


Michael Ludden is the Director of Product at IBM’s Watson Developer Labs & AR/VR Labs. Previous to that he worked with product and developer marketing at Google, Samsung and at HTC. In this video, Michael explains what is required to be a good developer advocate.

Video transcript:

Who makes a good developer advocate?

Experience is always great because it means that people are likely senior developers and have been trained in terms of PR, what to say and what not to say on social. They have skills in stage presence, maybe they’ve done Toastmasters. They’ve just done a lot of conferences, so experience is great. With experience developer advocates you have salary expectations of course, and then you have the fear of getting poached.

Because a lot of the industry luminaries, I’ve seen them jump from company to company. I don’t blame them at all because they are great at what they do, and people want them. I’m not going to name names, but I think there’s a sliding scale. I think personally, I think that a new to the industry, hungry, developer advocate who really is willing to be scrappy and go the extra mile to do really great on their job is almost just as good as a very senior, like a super experienced person. Because a lot of the skills you can pick up on the job.

One of the things that’s required to be a good developer advocate is scrappiness you do have to be able to fill gaps. There’s not always going to be a designer or an engineer or somebody with a specific function that maybe is not yours to do the last piece of everything you’re going to do for that presentation tomorrow.

Because you still don’t have CEO status at the company so you’re not just going to have copywriters and ghostwriters everywhere. Sometimes you have to just be willing to fill-in. I am like that and I know a lot of good people who are like that. That’s almost like a necessary job function for being a developer. Frankly, it’s easier to get lazy when you’re more senior in an organization than if you just trying to earn your stripes.



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