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Presentation: Discovering Culture Through Artifacts

Track: “Don’t Mess Up The Culture!”—Scaling with Sanity

Location: Henry Moore, 4th flr.

Duration: 11:50am - 12:40pm

Day of week:

Slides: Download Slides

Level: Intermediate

Persona: Architect, Developer

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Congratulations! You've just got off the phone with the recruiter and you got the job. You can't wait to start and show them what a great engineer you are. This is the opportunity you've been looking for. You love the position, you've met the team and you understand the company's business model. But something is holding you back. You don't know much about the company's culture, and this is making you cautious. You just left a dysfunctional culture, at times even toxic. You would very much like to avoid joining another company like that. So what is it really like to work at this company? What do they believe in? How do people behave and treat people? In other words, what is the culture of this culture and how do I go about discovering it? 

Learning how to discover the culture of an organization can be extremely valuable to you, whether you are debating joining a new team, or just want to better understand the company you've worked at for the past decade.

In this talk, Mike McGarr (Engineering Leader, Slack), will share with you an approach to discovering organizational culture through its artifacts. Mike will share his model for understanding culture and the key artifacts you can seek out that will allow you to build an understanding of an organization's culture. Mike will also share a wealth of "experiences" (that's code for failures) that have shaped his approach to discovering culture.

Speaker: Mike McGarr

Engineering Leader, Frontend Infrastructure @Slack

Mike McGarr is an engineering leader who resides in the heart of Silicon Valley. Mike currently leads Slack’s Frontend Infrastructure team, focused on building a great JavaScript client. Prior to Slack, Mike lead Netflix’s Developer Productivity team, who was focused on building tools and services to make engineers at Netflix productive. Mike is also one of the founders and co-organizers of the Productivity Engineering Silicon Valley meetup. Mike also had a brief stint as a co-host on the popular podcast, the Ship Show Podcast. Prior to moving to the valley, Mike was hard at work in Washington D.C. building software solutions for the federal government. You can catch Mike riding his bike or speaking at conferences about technology and how make engineering organizations more effective.

Find Mike McGarr at

Preliminary tracks

Discover some of the topics you will see at QCon London. *The schedule is subject to change

Event-Based Architectures: The Hard Parts

Architectures You've Always Wondered About

Building High Performing Teams

Scaling Security, from Device to Cloud

From Remote to Hybrid Teams: Return to Office?

Performance/Mechanical Sympathy

Next Generation Microservices: Building Distributed Systems the Right Way

The Cloud Operating Model

Chaos and Resilience: Architecting for Success

Modern Data Pipelines & Streams

Scaling Frontend

Modern JVM Innovations

MLOps: Implementing ML Across the Enterprise

Architecting a Modern Financial Institution

Crafting the Developer Experience