Speak the Future: Interview with Alessandro Nadalin, VP Technology at Namshi.com


Conferize’s “Speak the Future” series features speakers who are currently changing the conference world. Often described as the thought-leaders and knowledge port-holes to this world, which is why we are passionate about sharing their ideas, right here, with you! For more info check out our “Speak the Future” Manifesto.

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I am a seasoned technical leader, currently in Dubai managing the tech team for Namshi, a Rocket Internet venture, who pays a lot of attention to enterprise patterns, methodologies and communities. In the past few years, I have heavily focused my attention on agile practices, patterns of enterprise application architecture and leading mid/big-sized development teams.

I have also been involved in projects for the italian government, Samsung, Nissan, ENI and pioneered the e-commerce ecosystem in the Middle East.

I’m a big supporter of the REST architectural style, Service Oriented Architectures and asynchronous messaging systems. When I’m not working, you can find me speaking at some conference, riding my motorcycle, blogging at odino.org or eating some indonesian food in the old side of Dubai.

What is your favorite area of expertise to present?

Web architectures, scalability, leading teams and clean code: over the past 6 years I’ve been able to work for small enterprises, governments and startups. I don’t consider myself a guru in any field, but due to the projects I’ve been involved in, I could witness and take part in motivating challenges. 

How did you begin speaking at conferences?

It was more of a try, in 2009, I really was a different kind of professional: no management experience and poor coding fundamentals. I gave a talk about a popular CMS and its efforts to be more developer-friendly. All in all, that conference (PHPDay 2009 in Italy) wasn’t great for my talk, but was great mostly due to the people I could meet, the networking and a lot of things learned on the spot.

What have been some of the key conferences you’ve attended or participated in?

The best conference I’ve participated in were the ones totally informal, like the PHP Benelux Conference of 2011, probably the one that I enjoyed the most, even though I wasn’t speaking there. The best one I’ve given a talk at was probably the Jazoon 2011 in Zurich, in front of a huge crowd and running for the rookie award. It was a very intense experience.

Why do you think conferences are important today?

Basically – and I see it daily as I moved to the Middle East – the most important thing that professionals should do is to network: no man is an island! At every conference you get to know more about different approaches, methodologies and working habits that could revolutionize your work experience. Honestly, the worst candidates I’ve ever interviewed for any company I worked for, were the ones with a pretty closed mentality, who were too “behind” the state of the art in the technology field. It’s always like that.

Have you noticed any significant trends in the Meetings Industry in the wake of digital/mobile developments?

Man, honestly the tech environment, from this point of view, it’s amazing! Where do you find communities so close, so eager to learn, professionals that “sacrifice” their spare time to learn and get better? It’s unbelievable what happens in our industry. These days, we are kickstarting the PHP User Group Dubai. I could honestly not stand to live in a country, in a city, where people don’t leverage their biggest power: others.

How would you like to see conferences change more in the future?

Informal. We live in a world that is taking itself less seriously day after day, and I’d like to see this trend pervading the world of conferences and meetups. Less formal and more substance, that’s a winning motif.

As a speaker, what do you feel you need right now to strengthen your profile in the conference world? Tools, technology, network etc.?

I think the biggest problem nowadays is evangelization and sponsorship: very few conferences can afford to get very valuable speakers from the other side of the world due to strict budgets. I think that when more and more companies will understand the advantages of knowledge sharing through conferences and events like these, they will get more involved in offering sponsorships in order to invite the most kick-ass speakers in their towns.

Any conference nightmares?

India, OSIDays, November 2011: I needed to give an interactive presentation about implementing an algorithm in TDD. My laptop, plugged with a VGA adapter, didn’t give any sign of life.

They were featuring me as a power, foreign speaker and I looked like a noob!

Advice to aspiring speakers?

Just. Do. It.

My first talk was horrible, it wasn’t until the beginning of 2011 that I gained the confidence that allowed me speak at a conference as though I was with my closest friends. That, and the ability of taking yourself for who you are, a guy from anywhere with some thoughts to share – not a featured speaker at an illustrious conference.

Any feedback on Conferize?

I think we always needed some sort of reference for the conference environment. Keep up with the goal, the idea of actively involving and engaging speakers is terrific. +100.