When I was a young kid we used to take family holidays from the UK to France. I remember meeting other kids on holiday with their families for a week at a time, spending time playing with them and having loads of fun.
These other kids were from exotic-sounding places like Germany and France. Despite enjoying the same kinds of games and having loads of fun together we didn’t speak the same language and could never have a conversation. As children we had a lot in common but our lives and toys and everything were so different.
Since that time I always wanted to travel - to meet people and see what life is like in different places - how it is similar and how it is different.
Living and Working Abroad
I was very shy of public speaking when I was young. After two years of working as a programmer I decided to try to tame that nervousness and take a chance to travel at the same time. I went back to studying, this time to be a teacher of English as a Second Language, then joined the JET programme and moved to Japan with my girlfriend to teach high school English.
I immediately learned two things:
- Speaking to groups and teaching weren’t as scary as I thought - and it was fun!
- Being able to do something well is a totally separate skill from teaching it to others
I taught English in Japan for three years and loved it. Also during that time my girlfriend and I married and we had our first child. Now there were three of us we needed to move back to the UK so that I could rejoin the tech industry.
It was an exciting time to be rejoining the tech community. “The Cloud” was becoming a thing and there were endless new and interesting things to learn, but I never lost the memory of my love for teaching; the joy of seeing a face light up when someone learns something new.
Back in the UK
While back working as a Java and Clojure programmer for several years, I took as many chances as I could to present at conferences, and run workshops and meetups. During this time I enjoyed working with folks in the Java community - it’s huge and varied and vibrant! As well as being used by corporations to do everything from big data processing to designing satellite trajectories, there are people using JVM languages for making games, creating music, visual art and all kinds of educational and hobbyist activities. You can’t help but find interesting people amongst millions of JVM programmers worldwide.
Focussing on Community
During 2018 I decided that I wanted to make it my full-time job to work in developer relations.
This was not an easy decision because I had enjoyed being a developer for a long time and this would be a big change away from that kind of work. I had been able to get some conference talks and blog posts under my belt, but did not know what it would be like to do DevRel for a living.
A mutual friend introduced me to Layla from Twilio’s developer evangelism team and the more I learned about how the team and company work, the more it seemed like a place where I could do the community-facing work that I love with a company I could be proud to represent. And no doubt I would be able to experience the joy of learning for myself.
I took a chance and applied. I was nervous throughout the interviews, not sure if my background of mainly being a developer would fit with Twilio. On Christmas Eve I was delighted to be told I had got the job!
Welcome to Twilio
So hello, that’s me - I’m just starting my journey with Twilio and I’m excited about what I can learn here, and how I can serve the JVM developer community in growing and coming together to meet, to share, and to build cool things.
If you’re thinking of using Twilio with Java, Clojure, Scala, Kotlin, Groovy JRuby or any other JVM language I would love to say hello.