8 November 2023
The Evolution of DevOps: Insights from Robin Weston at DevOps Talks Conference Singapore 2023
The DevOps Talks Conference in Singapore 2023 brought together tech enthusiasts and professionals from around the globe, offering a unique opportunity to delve into the dynamic world of DevOps. Among the distinguished attendees was Robin Weston, an Engineering Director at BCG X, whose experience and insights promise to shed light on the evolving landscape of technology and innovation. Following the DevOps Talks Conference Singapore 2023, Robin Weston engaged in a brief interview which discussed various topics including tips for recent graduates stepping into the industry and insights for individuals aiming to progress in their careers.
Robin brings a wealth of experience that he has acquired during his tenure at Thoughtworks. Robin has played a pivotal role as a technical co-founder in multiple startup ventures, showcasing his knack for innovation and entrepreneurship. In his current capacity at BCG X, Robin leads dynamic engineering teams tasked with crafting cutting-edge businesses and products. Notably, he has demonstrated a keen enthusiasm for exploring the diverse facets of Generative AI, signalling his commitment to staying at the forefront of technological advancements.
BCG X is the technology build and design division of BCG, aiming to merge cutting-edge technical expertise with visionary entrepreneurship. Its primary objective is to empower organisations in fostering widespread innovation by leveraging advanced technologies.
Robin Weston's insights from the DevOps Talks Conference in Singapore 2023 shed light on the evolving tech landscape. His emphasis on in-person connections, actionable advice for graduates, and commitment to diversity and innovation serve as a testament to the dynamic and inclusive future of the tech industry. As DevOps continues to evolve, leaders like Robin Weston pave the way for innovation and growth.
Hi Robin, thank you for taking the time to participate in this interview, let’s get started:
What have you enjoyed most about attending the DevOps Talks Conference Singapore?
Robin: This was the first in-person tech conference I had attended since moving to Singapore from the UK, so it was great to feel part of and contribute to my local tech community again. Remote conferences have their place but in my opinion they'll never provide the same opportunities for learning and networking as in-person events.
What presentation or speaker did you look forward to the most, and why?
Robin: Gabriel Mesquida Masana - “Optimising flight arrivals in Singapore using a Digital Twin”, because it immediately struck me as such an interesting topic. Firstly, the problem domain; we all fly but are largely unaware of the workings and complexities of air traffic control. And secondly, on a technical level, I loved the idea of creating a digital twin to allow safe experimentation.
What are some of the things that you enjoy in your role as Engineering Director at BCG X?
Robin: Top of the list, and has been since day one, is the people. I have the pleasure of working with a hugely talented, kind and diverse group of people, many of whom are now good friends. The work we do, building products and businesses in partnership with large corporates, is challenging across several dimensions, but doing this alongside my colleagues is largely a joy.
Secondly, the variety of the work. Over my 5+ years at BCG X I've built a robo-advisor platform in Europe, a shipping business in China, a home repair marketplace in Belgium, and a digital insurance company in Singapore. And that's not the half of it! The constant variety can be tiring but it's most definitely not boring.
What is your advice to recent graduates entering the industry?
Robin: This is a tough one, as the last year has seen a downward trend in the tech industry, with many talented people losing their jobs. However, my tip remains to Just.Start.Building. Build something, anything! Don't get obsessed with leetcode problems or trivia. Build something, launch it, and run it in production. You'll learn more that way than through textbooks. Especially in this new world of Generative AI, the realm of ideas that one person can bring to life is vast.
What are some of the challenges you have had to overcome in your career to date?
Robin: As a straight, white male, I am in no real position to complain about challenges. Indeed, trying to be an ally to those in minority groups has increasingly been a focus of mine ever since having my eyes opened while working at Thoughtworks several years ago.
But if you want me to add something, I'll say that attempting to shed the stereotype of engineers just being a talking technical head on a stick or a pair of hands at a keyboard. At their best, engineers can be vibrant storytellers and key contributors to a business and product vision.
Highlight a recent impactful DevOps tool or approach you've adopted.
Robin: I am a big fan of the AWS CDK. Allowing developers to write infrastructure in their native language of choice and not have to pick up Terraform + HCL can significantly lower cognitive load. It's easier to understand, partly because it's often 10x fewer lines of code than alternative tools. The ability to create reusable high-level CDK components also shines when larger organisations are looking to standardise their infrastructure across teams. Of course, you could create a giant unsustainable mess with the CDK, but show me a tool or language where that isn't possible.
Robin Weston is a committed DevOps expert who has made substantial contributions to the success of BCG X, while also being a source of inspiration for newcomers in the field. Conducting an interview with Robin was a delightful opportunity to gain valuable insights into his professional endeavours.