Last week I attended the ISA Techbrew event, hosted in 4 Dame Lane.

I have been to a couple of these Techbrew events before. Run by the Irish Software Association, they are offer an informal setting to network with Industry peers. Whilst listening to the talks, you are also rubbing shoulders with technology leaders .

There’s an informal vibe to these events. I’ve been to similar functions and often it is difficult to network, especially for the shy or timid people present. At Techbrew, when you arrive you can avail of your free beer, and the name and company badges make introducing yourself to those around you that bit easier.

This particular event was focused on the theme of Agile Product Management.

Following the standard Techbrew formula, the ISA had arranged subject matter experts to present their experiences with the topic. The speakers stand on a chair (“the soapbox”), and talk for ten minutes, followed by a QA session in between speakers.

ISA Techbrew

ISA Techbrew

The first speaker was; Siobhan Maughan, Vice President, Product Management at Openet

As I learned, Siobhan has 20 + years of software industry experience.

She discussed how she began working fulltime in Openet 5 years ago, as a Product Manager, and charted her progress to her current position where she is responsible for a portfolio of products.

What I found most interesting about Siobhans piece, was her honest appraisal of how Agile has been perceived and implemented in Openet. She talked about how, some years back, Management would proclaim their business units to be Agile, when in fact, they weren’t quite. An example of this is where she was involved in Software Development projects which used elements of Agile and Waterfall, according to Siobhan, Openet where using “Watergile” methodologies.

She has a lot of wit, and engaged the crowd with some insightful one liners, which no doubt have been retweeted many times.

“Agile is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are gonna get”

“Agile is like being pregnant, you either are or you are not”

ISA Techbrew

ISA Techbrew

Next up, was John McQuillan – OpenJaw Co-Founder, President and Head of Product Development

John discussed OpenJaw’s approach to adopting Agile Product Management in a very frank and honest way. He left us with no illusions that this is not a one size fits all transition. It’s challenging, and can come with considerable trials and tribulations.

He lamented about how they didn’t take the “Big Bang” approach, instead opting for a start small, investigated approach. He personally purchased manuscripts on Agile methodologies and circulated to all relevant employees. He mentioned they would have discussion groups and encourage everyone to speak their mind. He is now a true believer in the power of Agile product management, and offers his companies continued growth as evidence to his claims.

The final speaker was Rich Mironov, a Silicon Valley Product Management Veteran,

Rich is a master in the subject of Agile product Management. He discussed his experience across successful and “failed” start-ups, and his years of experience acting as Consultant to IT companies worldwide.

Most interesting to me, was his approach to selling the benefits of Agile, to an end client. He took Openet as an example and discussed how Openet where able to invite one of their clients, a Telecomms company, into how Agile is improving their service. He discussed how end clients are now demanding to be brought into the boardroom and briefed as to how agile the provider is.

ISA Techbrew

ISA Techbrew

All in all, I found the event insightful and actually quite enjoyable. Working in this arena, I pride myself on having Industry knowledge. When speaking with clients and candidates, I like to be able to engage with them on their level, and discuss in more detail, the kind of projects they are working on. I’m happy to say that, after attending this Techbrew, I know a lot more about the Agile methodologies. Glad as well, that I got to meet and great a lot of interesting people, from the Industry.