A Guest Interview with Aubrey Stearn

By:Alfie Rice

A Guest Interview with Aubrey Stearn

Our global platform has allowed us to meet like-minded DevOps enthusiasts and simultaneously build a community where voices can be heard, actions can be taken, and friendships can be formed.

Aubrey Stearn has been a pivotal part of our community; attending our very first Women in DevOps event, and engaging with our platform since. In addition to her being an omnipotent force in the DevOps landscape, Aubrey is also a public speaker, and has even shared her voice with us during our LGBTQ+ Inclusive Workplace webinar session in May. We were thrilled to have Aubrey speak to us for our first Women in DevOps newsletter, as we delve deeper into what led her to the world of DevOps, as well as the importance for D&I in the tech landscape, and everything in between! 


  1. What inspired you to pursue a career in DevOps?


I wouldn’t so much say that I pursued a career in DevOps, I think it’s more a consequence of having skills in both operations and development and the need for a synergy from both of those domains.  There was a time when operations was a separate skill set, racking servers, joining them to a domain, image prep and network configuration.  Next the networking side started to shift into software defined networking, soon the hardware followed and it became more of a software exercise with more resemblance to a software engineering exercise, the domains shifted but the way we interacted with those domains was firmly software engineering.


  1. If you could elect a famous figurehead to represent women in tech, who would it be?


A famous figurehead, can I pick a villain? The victors get to write the history books right, and so many times in history we have folks who have taken a punt and won, jobs, gates, musk, there are some spectacular stories of fake it until you make it.  There are also folks that have changed the world in more ways than one, general magic is one of my favourite documentaries, I’m inspired every time I watch it, its’ like the tech equivalent of watching rocky and feeling like it’s gym time.  So I’m going to go with Elizabeth Holmes, who flamed out in spectacular fashion, but like many before her, was faking it until she made it.


  1. How important is it to have D&I initiatives within the workplace?


I think it’s important we address supply chain issues until you get back to ‘why am I not getting diversity through the door’ when we’re hiring.  There was a point where I asked a recruiter to list names of every CV they vetted to figure out if it was bias being introduced at that ingress point, or was it the organisations proposition to potential engineers, was it the package, the location, was it simply the availability of local talent.  I firmly believe in hiring on merit, and that doesn’t remotely mean just technical merit, building a functioning team is like building an ecosystem, you have challenges with imbalance, what will thrive in that kind of environment, components migrating out of that environment because something is missing.  I’m more interested in why groups are underrepresented and what we can do to change that than, ‘I want you to hire me because I’m exceptional and not because I’m transgender,’ mutually I want folks to know I hired them because they are exceptional and not to tick a box.


  1.   What’s been your proudest career moment so far?


I think what we built at the Nationwide Digital Accelerator Platform was my proudest, we had some incredible thinking that was before it’s time, some real commercial thinking from our engineers.  The reflection ceremony every two weeks remains something I fondly look back on, with so many folks who were ‘just engineers’ to start with finding their voice, finding their story, standing up and telling their team and the business about both of them.  I really enjoyed seeing everyone grow in that environment, challenging ‘OK’ to be exceptional. 


  1. What is your vision for the future of technology?


My real interesting is in Financial Services, I think there is so much we can do if more people understood the rules of the game and it is a different rule set, it’s not just about getting things to production fast, its about understanding the landscape the EBA, FCA and PRA have created for these firms to conduct business on.  There is a huge opportunity for innovation because there are so few folks who can spot whitespace and develop a solution to fill it.  My particular interest right now, is in the regulated space, I think the benefits of innovating in this space can help everyone but the future for me is regulated.


  1. Any advice for our future leaders hoping to make their mark in the DevOps landscape?


Don’t be afraid to build your own brand, your own vision, define your own rules.


We’d like to thank Aubrey for her insightful responses and contributions towards the newsletter. If you’d like to learn more about Aubrey, check out her YouTube channel, where she candidly answers 10 questions about her transition. 

Keep your eyes peeled – we will also be releasing a podcast interview with Aubrey very soon!