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Season 2, Ep. 8 – Meet the team: Director of Developer Relations, Deividi Silva

When you’re more or less a manager to thousands of people, being able to fall asleep at the drop of a hat seems like an incredibly useful skill. Hear how our director of Developer Relations, Deividi Silva, does all this and more on this week’s “Meet the team” episode.

Faith Benson
Faith Benson

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Transcript

Deividi (00:07):

Hey, hello!

Faith (00:08):

Hi Deividi! Nice swag.

Teja (00:11):

Hell yeah.

Deividi (00:12):

See? You like it? (Faith: Yeah!)

Teja (00:14):

Yeah. I got the mug, too. 

Deividi (00:17):

(Inaudible) Went with me to Paris (Teja: Nice)

Faith (00:22):

I’m like a terrible marketer. You guys have all the Gun.io stuff, and I’m just here in my black tee. Well, Deividi, welcome to the Frontier podcast. We’re very excited to have you on.

Deividi (00:37):

I’m very happy to be here.

Faith (00:39):

It’s gonna be good. These episodes are obviously like staff interviews. We have really cool people on the team, and they do really cool, unique jobs that when I talk about them with my friends, they’re like, Well, what does that even mean? Like, I’ve never heard of dev rel, or I’ve never heard of growth marketing. Like, talk to me about that. So, the idea here is we wanna get to know you. Obviously Teja and I know you, but on behalf of listeners – get to know you a little bit better, kind of what got you here, what you do here on the team, how you help us grow, and then advice that you’ve got for folks.

Deividi (01:17):

Of course. Yeah. Always excited to talk about that.

Faith (01:20):

So, obviously Gun.io connects software talent with companies who are hiring software talent, and Deividi is on our platform. I don’t know, how long were you on our platform before we started talking about a full-time role?

Devidi (01:35):

I started looking at Gun.io I think three years before I joined.

Faith (01:41):

Oh my gosh, I didn’t know that.

Deividi (01:43):

Yeah, I was at a moment in my career where I was looking to move abroad, going outside of Brazil, but also I was thinking maybe I should try remote as well, but I really wanted to work with companies outside Brazil. So, I joined the platform trying to see how that worked, but at the same time, I was at a crazy moment in my life. I was doing so many interviews with the European companies. I think I had five offers from people from Netherlands on the table. Yeah. And then I finally got the one from Amazon, and I moved there. That’s why I dropped out of the platform. And then I eventually, after the whole pandemic situation and when I came back, I thought I would take a look again into Gun.io. That’s when you found me.

Faith (02:34):

Yeah. We were very lucky to find you too, kind of in that season of change for you.

Teja (02:40):

Yeah. Can I speak a little bit about Deividi and his background and how lucky we are to have him? 

Faith (02:47):

We’ll allow it. 

Teja (02:47):

I remember–I think Faith actually was like, Hey, we’re hiring for this particular role on the platform that was gonna help us evaluate talent that was coming in. You know,  I don’t even think we started the hiring process yet fully, but I remember speaking to Deividi and just like your background at Amazon, your background in building businesses and being both like a contractor and also contracting people, and also scaling a team at Amazon, and living abroad and interacting with different cultures–We were like, Oh my god, like this dude, is it. You know what I mean? Like, he could stand up this whole half of the business that has never really been invested in. And so, yeah. I don’t know what—we met, like last year or something? And it’s been incredible. Even if you’ve been on the platform for a few years, it’s like, we’re so fortunate that you came back from Ireland. I mean, again, your story, I don’t wanna ruin it, but like…

Deividi (03:49):

No, I think it was one of those cases. I know I wasn’t on your end—on your side—at that point, but we’ve had in this past year a lot of moments where people come into the platform, and then we get a job in the platform, and I reach out to everyone and say, Hey, this is the perfect match. And I feel like this is what you had when you found me—this is the perfect match for what we’re looking for. (Teja: Yeah.) And that’s how I feel about this job.

Faith (04:17):

So, ok. On that note, what is your job here?

Deividi (04:19):

Oh, that’s a good question. I am officially Director of Developer Relations. This means I have the whole developer relations department, dev rel. But it’s different from normally what you see on dev rel, right? So if you look at big companies and what they do and the APIs they create, if you think about dev rel, these are those people that are going through documentation, helping other developers work on top of their APIs to expand on their platforms. When you think about dev rel here, we are here to take care of the developers and build that relationship so they get hired. So it’s a difference being on dev rel. Dev rel has hundreds of different ways companies do things, and this is the way that we do it. It’s creating a touch point where developers come into the platform and talk to us, and they make things happen for themselves. And we are always here to advocate on their behalves and and make them succeed and get hired.

Faith (05:22):

I was on a family vacation last week, and I come from a long line of nerds and people who work in security, and developers and all that. And my family notoriously thinks that I’m unemployed, because they just don’t understand what I do. Like that’s a joke, is like, Faith doesn’t have a job.

Deividi (05:39):

I get that a lot too. Yeah.

Faith (05:40):

And so finally they were like, Clearly you have a job, so let’s hear about it. And I was kind of telling them about the platform, and to them, the thing that stood out the most is what you do, Deividi, and the dev rel team. 

Deividi (05:54):

Oh, that’s cool.

Faith (05:55):

And because, you know, when you’re—you know this, like you’ve been a job seeker, as a developer—and when you are either vetting platforms or recruiters, or whatever, it’s very rare to have a fellow senior developer who is your advocate through that whole process, and who’s the one who’s actually doing your vetting and your matching with companies. And so that they were like, Okay, that’s very cool. That’s very unique.

Deividi (06:25):

From my perspective, what I think is most exciting is that I’m here rooting for them. I’m like, the best feeling that I get—and this is for real, I’m not BSing because we’re on a podcast. When we get people hired, I feel like, ok, this is my reward. I see so many people I talked to in the last few weeks, and then getting them to that job that a lot of times are going to change their lives, because it’s with paychecks that they’re never going to get locally. Right? So, this is life changing. So this is very, very cool. The reward that comes from that’s very cool.

Teja (07:04):

Yeah, no, it’s like a drug. I mean, I remember this was—I told the story on the podcast, I don’t know, in one of the earlier episodes, but when we were just like a job board, I remember I was on Hacker News, like answering some question about jobs, and some dude replies to my comment and is like, ‘Hey, I got a contract on your site, and I bought a Jeep Wrangler.’ And I was like, Dude, what? I didn’t even know who this dude was. And it was crazy. I was like, this dude just found a job through us, and you’ve bought a car. That’s incredible. And today with your team, we’re doing that on a much larger scale, and the money’s not just like, to buy a car. It’s like, I mean, it’s like tens of thousands of dollars per month. So it’s life changing.

Deividi (07:52):

Yeah, you can buy houses here in Brazil with that kind of money.

Teja (07:55):

Totally.

Faith (07:57):

But the taxes will get you. (Deividi: Yes.) We’ve been talking about that.

Deividi (07:59):

Yes, that is true. 

Faith (08:02):

Ok. So we’ve talked a little bit about your role and kind of the ins and outs, what you do here, what you think about all day, and it’s a really specific skill set, I think, to do what you do and to do it well. You’re managing people, you’re thinking about generating revenue, right? Like we talk a lot about as a leadership team, revenue, and kind of how teams are structured and all that. And then obviously like running your department, figuring out how we vet talent, how do we match talent with clients efficiently and make sure it’s a great experience for everybody. So that’s like a very unique set of different skills kind of across the board. So I’m curious, if you had to think of one previous experience in your professional history that prepared you really well for this, what would it be? It could be a collection too.

Deividi (08:58):

Yeah. I think– 

Teja (08:58):

Working out, lifting weights… (Faith: Rock climbing)

Deividi (09:02):

I think it builds up over time. So when I started as a software engineer, of course, all the background just writing code and understanding how you solve a business problem with code, that’s one thing that you gotta have to be in my position. You need to understand how to solve problems and how you help company with your code. And so for, I don’t know, almost 10 years—up until today—I still code eventually, not as much as I’d like to, but I still do. So that whole background coding on a day to day basis helped a lot. But once I’m moving to management, and that’s where I got the taste for getting to help others and scaling myself. Ok, I can deliver so much more if I’m a force multiplier. And I help others, and I enable others to deliver, and I delegate some of my things. So it started when I was working with Propo. I started building my own team. It was my first experience building my own team. We were working with on an IoT platform company, had no clue what they wanted. So that was cool too. I use that on here too. It’s not uncommon for companies to not have the most amazing technical skills, so they don’t really know what the end goal for their business is. So allowing your technical person to lead you and to tell you what you need to be doing, that’s one of the things. So I learned that on that company. They were trying to set up something. I came in and I said, Hey, this is all wrong. This is what we need to do.

I help them. It was a really cool experience setting up the team, setting up the platform, creating partnerships for setting up the whole platform, understanding the business problems to be solved, and leading my team there. I think that was a turnkey moment to help leading others. And then a lot of what I do on a day to day basis, I already had it in me, but it just potentialize once I moved to AWS, which is being data driven, insisting on a higher standards, and making sure we’ll bring buyers to our action, making things happen, and just crushing everything that is on your way to get to the end goal.  I cannot be sitting and not making things happen, but I need to be doing that with data, right? So whenever I insist with the rest of the team, Hey, let’s make sure we have the data. Let’s take a look at the dashboards. Let’s understand that I do every day. And I pick a lot of that from when I was working with AWS. I was working with the most talented people in the world, right? And when I decided to leave AWS and I was working by myself, I was missing that part. Okay, I need to be working with the most talented people in the world. What is the way that I can do this? The whole world is remote right now. And I was still—I still wanted the independence of doing my own things. And I got very lucky to be involved with Gun.io because it felt like, okay, this is my opportunity to not be a manager for 20ish people, maybe like 10 to 20 people, or if I move to a senior management position, 50 people, something like that. But to be managing thousands of people on our platform, right? The way I see right now, every developer that is on our platform, if they wanna set up a conversation with me, get some mentoring, or just talk about technology or anything they wanna do in their careers—if they wanna sit with me, have a one-on-one, I’m always open for that. So I feel like I’m manager for over thousands of people, and that’s where—that’s how I feel most blessed by this position.

Teja (13:22):

That’s awesome. (Faith: Yeah.) That’s so cool. So, you know, I’m curious, are you an introvert or an extrovert?

Deividi (13:28):

I think I fluctuate between both, very easily. The thing is, I’m very comfortable being alone, which is something that is more for introverts, but I also don’t shy away being in a room with a lot of people. I’ve spoken to thousands of people, thousands of people before. So I don’t know, I’d say a mix of those. Why do you ask?

Teja (13:55):

Yeah, I’m curious because, you know, as an engineer, and now as a manager for the entire platform, you know, I’m curious about context switching. You know, how you go from coding, let’s say early morning or late at night to then going to having six different interviews, managing the dev rel team that’s actually doing the evaluations. Like, how do you kind of shift gears? Do you do time boxing?

Deividi (14:22):

Yeah. So that’s one of the things that you gotta learn as a technical manager. You need to create those slots. And you allocate the time on your calendar to make room available for when you need to do some more deep thinking and when you want to be available for the team. So I learned that a lot. And I think I got very good with this now that even for things that are not coaching or just that I— okay, I need to sit here and think about the people on my team and I need to reevaluate what are the goals and then where they should be going. Everything gets a time slot, even for the smallest things. So yeah, that’s how I protect my calendar and how I try to block those times to think. You can see me early mornings going through the notifications and people that are waiting for our responses, or things like that. That’s when it’s supposed to happen. There’s a reason for—you can see me doing that every day, early morning.

Teja (15:28):

Do you have any rituals around switching? Like, do you get up and go for a walk, or are you just able just to like, bang it out? Like go through the deep thinking, then switch to a meeting?

Deividi (15:38):

I can switch pretty quick. I don’t have a ritual, but that’s a good thing. Well, I have a—

Faith (15:45):

He’s a superhuman.

Teja (15:46):

He’s like Armin van Buuren. Those Master Classes…

Deividi (15:55):

One small secret that I think helps me a lot: I really love taking 15 minute naps after lunch. (Teja: Ah, yeah.) That’s the best. I love that.

Teja (16:07):

Do you go to sleep in those 15 minutes? 

Deividi (16:10):

Yeah. It’s deep sleep. Yeah. If I tell you right now, I’m going to sleep right now, I can sleep here in front of you.

Faith (16:19):

What?

Teja (16:21):

Yeah.

Faith (16:21):

Wait, I wanna make that a podcast episode one day. Deividi, I’m curious about—just a hard left here. I’m curious about benchmarks. Caffeine’s more interesting, right?

Teja (16:32):

Hey, our best performance posts are my caffeine pills. So we’ll talk about caffeine.

Faith (16:40):

Your role is so unique. There’s probably very few, if any, people who have to think about the same things and achieve the same things as you do in this role. Whereas, like me and Teja, like we can Google how to be a good marketing leader or how to be a good CEO. We consume content.

Teja (16:58):

I definitely don’t Google that, but…

Faith (16:59):

You know, or like, ok. Or if we’re not Googling, at least we have like folks that we look up to, right? Like people who we think CEO very well or market very well. And it’s a little bit different for you, Deividi, because you’re—there’s just really no public benchmarks like that. So I’m curious, like, who do you look to to kind of tell you what “good” looks like, and how do you benchmark yourself that way?

Deividi (17:28):

That’s a good question. I try to think about it in a way that—going back to my roots as an engineering manager, what should I do? Because in the end of the day, the talent advocates, they’re all engineers. So instead of them doing tasks and writing codes and submitting GitHub issues or things like that, on a day to day basis, I think about the jobs and the people that they have to work with. And I use the same techniques that I learn as an engineering manager to manage the team, and being a good manager for them. So, I don’t have a reference. Let me use my own reference as what I have before, and try to use that. And I try to validate some of my hypothesis. This is the way that I do things. And if they don’t work, I would have changed, but it seems to be working, so I didn’t change that part. So, I’m working as a dev director the same way as I would do as an engineering manager, managing the engineers on my team. So that’s how I think about it. So if you see all the techniques that I use: monitoring, observing the results, and always be looking at the data, those always relate to the engineering manager practice.

Faith (18:56):

That’s a good kind of strategy for anybody who’s stepping into a role that might be a little bit undefined like that— is to think, you know, what is the overlay here with, you know, other management roles or whatever that I can kind of pull from? Like I said, I think that’s what’s unique about your role, is it’s really like a conglomeration of a lot of different stuff. 

Deividi (19:22):

I tell my friends that this position that I am is really fun, because they get to wake up and do whatever I wanna do. Ok, today I’m going to do this. I think this is the way I’m gonna test this hypothesis. Maybe it’s not, but yeah, I have all the freedom—and thank you to Teja for that—to go and try to test those hypotheses. And next week I do something different, or—it’s really, really fun that way. Keeps things interesting, right? So I’m a person that, if there’s something that’s not very interesting, I start to try to find other ways to make things interesting. If I fail on that, if I cannot find, then it becomes a problem. So I’m lucky that every day I find a way to make this dev rel director position very interesting and work on the things that I like.

Teja (20:18):

Yeah, I think a unique trait that Deividi also brings to the team is, so, like, you know, when you have a leadership team, every person brings their own set of processes and they change actually the way that the company or the team makes decisions. Like every single person added to the decision making group changes the way. And I think Deividi’s superpower, like not just in running dev as an excellent department, is he forces all of us to approach conversations through a data driven standpoint, right? Like, anytime we’re trying to make a decision based on rhetoric, he’s like, No, what’s the data? Like, why are we doing this? How do we support this? What’s the goal? And I think you know, maybe that’s personality. Maybe that’s your training in your previous roles, but that’s been something that I think had a really positive influence beyond just dev rel. And it’s like, that’s been an impetus for us to, you know, prioritize getting a data pipeline in place, a singular dash for all the teams. That’s been incredible.

Deividi (21:23):

And I like it because it’s been only a year, and you can see so much that changed. And I feel good because I touched a lot of things like that, right? And I don’t really care which department it is, I just wanna help us as a team, we’re all together. Help us as a team, grow this business, and make sure we get people hired.

Faith (21:45):

I’ve got a question probably on behalf of folks who are listening, which is, you know, imagine somebody who has been an IC programmer for their career, and they’re really, really interested in joining a company, maybe like ours, that, you know, fewer than 20 employees, but moving fast, and profitable, and all that good stuff, and they wanna join in a non-engineering role—something like yours, where they have a chance to really build out a department and affect change. What advice would you have for somebody like that, essentially to pursue a similar career path as you?

Deividi (22:21):

Well, first of all, when you’re interviewing, make sure you ask a whole lot of questions. Try to understand if the company aligns to your values, if the things that you’re gonna do on a day to day basis that are not coaching, not as an individual contributor, and if they make sense to your path. Mostly, just try to have fun, right? Find a way to have fun. If it’s not fun, it’s not worth it. So always try to have fun when you’re working on something.

Faith (22:53):

That’s good advice.

Teja (22:54):

I think a lot of Deividi’s magic is, like him, you know, it’s hard to be like, copy and paste the particular strategy for—it’s like good leaders have found a way to be themselves and identify their strengths and their weaknesses and like, let that be, you know, how they manage. It sounds trite. 

Faith (23:17):

Yeah, but it’s true. And I think that really, Deividi, that first piece of advice that you just gave is like, ask questions, and be kind of relentless in your search for something that really aligns with you. Not just something that’s gonna pay you well, or something that like, looks cool on a resume, but something that really energizes you. Because I think, Teja, that’s what you’re calling out is, you can tell when that alignment is there and it’s like a genuine thing.

Teja (23:43):

It’s so easy to tell.

Faith (23:45):

Oh yeah.

Deividi (23:46):

You know, I just remember one thing that someone told me about, I don’t know, about eight years ago or something like that. Because there’s always—people that are here in Brazil that are good engineers— There’s always a dream that you can work with companies outside and it used to be a more farfetched dream, and now it feels closer, because a lot of people are remote. And one thing I was told eight years ago was that if you wanna work with a company outside of Brazil, you should never move outside being an individual contributor. People never hire managers from abroad. And this is somewhat true. (Teja: interesting.) It does not happen very often. So when I got hired to relocate from Brazil to Ireland to work with AWS as a manager, I was like, this isn’t real. This isn’t happening. I was told this was impossible. I’m doing the impossible here. So, it felt pretty cool. But then when I got there and I got more intimate with the folks that was working with, I was like, Hey, I’m curious. I don’t see other folks coming from Brazil getting hired directly as a manager. I see people evolving from senior engineers to manager, but not directly. And they just told me, Dude, you crushed the interview. So what do we do? We needed to hire you. We needed you here, you were good. So the things that I would say to people, don’t listen to that BS. If someone ever tells you that you cannot be a manager working with a company outside Brazil, of course, you can—just believe in yourself, keep doing the good job. And if that’s your dream, you can make that happen.

Teja (25:43):

Yeah. It’s crazy how many limiting beliefs people have, Like, you know what I mean? And some of that is cultural

Faith (25:51):

Oh, yeah. And then give to others.

Teja (25:53):

Yeah, totally. Right? And doing so actually reaffirms that, Oh, this is actually true. It’s okay that I believe this. I’m not limiting my own self, if somebody else believes it.

Faith (26:04):

Right? Well, if you want Deividi in your corner, helping you combat those limiting beliefs and helping you get hired with really awesome clients; when you sign up for Gun.io, Deividi is one of the first faces you’ll see. And that’s his whole job is, you know, being your advocate as a developer. So Deividi, we’re super lucky to have you. I’m so excited for people to learn more about what you do, ‘cause I think it’s just such a cool career trajectory and such a differentiating factor for us as a company. So thank you guys. I really appreciate it. 

Deividi (26:40):

Thank you, very much. I’m always very happy if anyone wants to reach out, happy to talk to anyone.

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