Frontier Podcast by

Frontier Podcast by

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The Frontier Podcast by explores the bleeding edge of software development. We chat with smart, forward-looking industry leaders to discover the latest trends happening now and what might be coming next.

The Frontier Podcast by explores the bleeding edge of software development. We chat with smart, forward-looking industry leaders to discover the latest trends happening now and what might be coming next.
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The Frontier Podcast by explores the bleeding edge of software development. We chat with smart, forward-looking industry leaders to discover the latest trends happening now and what might be coming next.




Killing off unplanned work for Frictionless Development

Unplanned work blows up estimates, kills team morale, and drives down productivity, which makes it no surprise that the best agile engineering leaders target operations improvements as a core value. Today’s guest Shawn Kuenzler takes that mission even deeper. Scaling engineering teams is what Shawn does, and he joins Ledge to discuss balancing efficiency with empathy for customers and team members, a concept and goal state he blends into what he calls "Frictionless Development.” When we...


Put your DevOps through P90X

You’re one of the largest exercise brands in the world. How do you get your DevOps in shape? Ledge sits down with Bob Chen, Senior Director of Technical Operations at Beachbody to chat DevOps, deployment, working with multiple distributed teams, and knocking off technical debt. See it turns out software teams often want to do their own thing… until they don’t. A good Ops team knows how to serve them, support them, and also give them room to set their own standards when needed. As Bob...


Integrity and quality in engineering, and leadership as an art

Software quality is like integrity - it’s doing the right thing even if no one is watching. That’s according to Merlin Quintin, Director QA Engineering at Redbox. Merlin joins Ledge in this episode to discuss her unique approaches to engineering leadership as a veteran team member at a disruptive media company. Merlin says engineering is about who you are as a person, working together with other people, to make a difference. This approach to leadership has guided Merlin Quintin through her...


Making yourself an indispensable engineering hire

Is recruiting engineering talent similar to courting professional athletes? That’s been our experience at, and Steve Bayette agrees. After traveling the world as a digital nomad, and successfully navigating two big-name exits, Steve now advises startups on how to hire world-class engineers and build industry-leading products. He’s also an investor in early stage technology and product companies. In this episode, Ledge and Steve talk about how to make yourself indispensable in your...


F.A.I.L. Mindset (First Attempt In Learning)

No stranger to screens big (very big) and small, David Shapendonk was the Direct of Technical Ops for IMAX before flexing his entrepreneurial muscles. He's now the CTO of Maestro Games, a startup helping to build technologies that incorporate music therapy with VR gaming to help people with anxiety, PTSD, autism, and other stress-related ailments. In this episode, David and Ledge chat about the differences in scaling between small and large organizations, having a F.A.I.L. mindset (first...


We've been acquired; we're laying off your entire team

You'll hear a lot of stories on The Frontier about starting, growing, and enhancing engineering teams. In this episode, Philipp Svehla, helps us explore the other side of the coin: bringing a team to a close. At the time of recording, his company had been acquired by a larger firm that decided to wind down the engineering office he oversaw while consolidating overseas. Philipp had to shepherd the difficult work of rallying a product team to deliver their final project before being let go....


Separating the signal from the noise in cloud

As companies move more and more workloads to the cloud, sometimes the number of new questions can seem to grow more quickly than the number of answers. In this episode Ledge talks to Leon Thomas, CEO of Jelecos, about their AWS services practice, using it as a lens into the changing world of cloud, secops, compliance, and more. One interesting question: does it make sense to focus on one public cloud provider? Or is it more prudent to spread your business around? Doing so might trade one...


Technical Evangelism as the voice of building, shipping, and operationalizing better software

What exactly is "technical evangelism?" At Gitlab, it's sharing opinions on what's going on in the community as technologists -- helping each other to collectively move forward to build better, ship better, and operationalize better so software is more responsive to customer needs. That's according to Ledge's guest, Priyanka Sharma. The great thing about evangelists? They have opinions, and they can give us the historical context necessary to make sense of the rapid pace of change in our...


Building teams with the Iron Triangle of engineering leadership

You might have heard of the "Iron Triangle" of software development: Cost, Quality, and Speed. You can only choose two. How about the "Iron Triangle" of engineering leadership? No, it's not a new Game of Thrones episode, but it is an extremely useful tool for implementing leadership across your organization. In this version you choose amongst "Do, Lead, and Strategize". In this episode Ledge talks with Engineering Director Colin Henry about how to prioritize those roles for your team...


The engineering magic behind low- and no-code platforms

What if digital and marketing teams could really launch amazing web apps without needing developers? That's the promise of low-code and no-code platforms. The interesting paradox is the extensive engineering required to create and maintain them. That's what makes this work so interesting: freeing developers to work on challenging problems while enabling others to achieve more powerful results. Alex Howard is the lead engineer behind that process at Brandcast, and in this episode Ledge and...


Technology for good and people-first FTW

Embracing technology to make the world a better place; that's a common theme with this podcast. Kevon Saber’s story continues to weave that fabric. Kevon started his tech career developing mobile games, later making a personal pivot to focus more on the cross-section of business and people. After completing his MBA at Stanford, he went on to start multiple companies, ultimately landing as the CEO of GoCheck Kids, a mobile app that helps to detect early vision disease in children. In this...


Always be learning and The Fog of Development

It only takes a few minutes of talking to Ravi Lachhmann before you realize, "This dude seriously loves engineering." That personality serves him well as a Technical Evangelist at Cisco company AppDynamics. Ravi's perspectives on production outages, operating what you build, and "Netflixian" organizational design all come back to one root idea: keep learning, and keep growing. In this episode Ravi and Ledge talk engineering flavors, purpose-built tools, customer empathy, and much more.


No CTO to Global CTO in one phone call

Imagine this: you get a call for a CTO job. The company has never had a CTO. It's a global company with boots on the ground in every country and all 50 states. It gathers scientific data in droves that very well might save the planet. What would you do next? Sherry Hammons knows the answer. She's the CTO for The Nature Conservancy and that's her story. In this episode Ledge talks to Sherri about technology leadership, coming to terms with managing and leading when you like being an engineer,...


Improved UX and business results using automation

Tyler Foster is the Vice President of Engineering for Sentient Technologies. As both a senior individual contributor and executive, Tyler has spent more than 18 years delivering technical solutions to the worlds hardest problems. Tyler’s past-experience includes leading firmware and control system development for subglacial lake exploration ROVs deployed in Antarctica with the MSLED / Wissard project, front-end platform architecture and service design at Apollo Group, one of the world’s...


Digital transformation and the right tool for the job

Dan Morgan is a lifelong Chicagoan, with nearly 20 years of experience as a developer and manager. He’s worked across multiple industries including entertainment, paper products, transportation logistics, and health care. Technology is Dan's passion: he worked for five years on research data science with the University of Chicago, and currently serves as VP of Software Engineering & Development at Unitas Global where his team works to simplify the management of hybrid cloud environments. In...


Coordinating engineering teams to build a seamless user experience

In this episode, Ledge chats with Ryan Burgess, Software Engineering Manager at Netflix, about leading their Acquisition UI team optimizing the signup and login processes for one of highest usage apps on the planet. They discuss the challenges of coordinating among engineering teams at massive scale, working on technologies that span a multitude of different platforms, and how Netflix incorporates A/B testing at the core of everything they do while delivering your weekend video binge.


Open Source, the grey areas, and keeping sharp with community

Ahmad Nassri is a force in the open source world. Any given day you can find him leading advisory groups at the Node.js Foundation, kicking off OSS conferences, or masterminding technology communities like TechMasters. You might be surprised to know he's also an architectural lead at one of the world's largest telco companies. Wait...How does love of open source fit into the legacy corporate world? Ahmad and Ledge tackle the grey areas between software engineeing skills, the people factors...


How to be a developer advocate without being an Instagram model

Burke Holland is a Nashville-based Developer Advocate for Microsoft. He's one of the rare people who's had a developer advocate position since way back in 2011, so I asked him about his path to what we now have started calling Dev Rel. In this episode Burke answers questions like what is a developer advocate? What does a developer advocate do? And even how to become one. We also talked about finding your own authentic writing voice and how to grow your advocacy platform through...


How to scale DevOps, standards, and automation in a high-growth agency

I spoke to Tyler Shambora in late 2018. At the time of this recording he was the Directory of Technology at BVA. He recently founder Pack Digital, an e-commerce agency focused on innovation and conversion. Tyler's role at BVA ecompassed a mixed bag of workflow, devops, standards, and automation. While attempting personal study in those areas, he realized that virtually no one talks about how to scale devops, delivery, and standards for high-growth agencies. "How we scaled" articles seem to...


Digital transformation, bleeding edge, and legacy tribal knowledge

Nick Lumsden, COO of Online Tech, joined me in late 2018 to chat "digital transformation" or as I put it, "Hey, what's exciting between legacy and bleeding edge?" It turns out companies can make a pretty big mess when they throw all of their workloads on the cloud without a decent plan. The technology is the easy part. Remember when we cared so much about our servers that we named them? Those days are gone. In the CI/CD world we face a totally different paradigm. What used to be build,...