Tell us a bit about yourself.
Heyyoo!! I’m Daniel Madalitso Phiri.. DevRel Lead at Strapi. I come from a community and software development background. I really enjoy engaging with and interacting with developer communities and I’m super lucky to be able to do that most days. I love incorporating storytelling into what I do. Stories are part of who we are as humans and experiences presented as stories tend to resonate better with people. I love to tell stories outside of the DevRel work I do either with my writing or music.
What do you feel is the most important part of your job?
Practicing empathy and understanding context.
Empathy helps a lot especially when I’m very aware of a lot of things. We tend to make a lot of assumptions for skill level, learning style, setup, workflows, incentives, and the list goes on.
Having these assumptions in mind and being empathetic towards the various people who fall into each really goes a long way and helps me inform where it is we might have to step in as a team and add value for our community and in what ways.
Context is great because given what we do it’s pretty important to have an idea of what’s going on around the product and in the company. This sometimes can be a lot of reaching out to people and putting myself in places where I can gather context and look for opportunities to add value.
What is something you’re struggling with?
Hiring and internal buy-in! I think it’s something a great deal of people in DevRel are struggling with at the moment.
Hiring is more of a larger ecosystem problem right now. I do however feel like it’s 10 times harder (I’m exaggerating) in DevRel. There’s a huge need for “battle-tested” DevRel talent right now which depending on your industry or ecosystem can be a very small pool. We need more juniors to be given a shot and again.. this is a larger ecosystem problem.
Buy-in is tricky. The struggle is more around changing the definition of what being developer-first means. A lot of companies tout the term here and there but it doesn’t usually generate value for developers in ways that matter outside of shipping them solutions. Internal DevRel is something I want to try out.
What do you look for when building your team?
I look for different things at different times. Companies grow and your DevRel team should reflect that. Early on you want to have people with strong foundational skills either on the events, development, program management or education sides but also a good balance of some other really important skills and characteristics because very early on in a team, people are performing different tasks. As the team grows you want to account for your team’s growth and it helps to let them own any one of the skills I mentioned above.
What’s one change you’d like to see in DevRel?
I would like to see more nuanced conversations around DevRel. I see a lot of very wide nets cast and if one thing is important in DevRel, it’s context. This will do a great deal of people in early, mid or late-career a huge service as they have an idea of what they should probably pay attention to and what they should not. It will also help us build more applicable models for programs and better metrics and in the long run, build a better case for why DevRel is important to an organization (hopefully stop the need to prove any importance altogether).