The Work Item - A Career Growth and Exploration Podcast

Den Delimarsky

Building a fulfilling career is hard. With so many people around us taking on different adventures that propel their careers in unexpected trajectories, is there a path a person can take that is going to increase their likelihood of success? Can I build a career creating content? What does it take to make the transition from information technology jobs to space? Can I start a start-up and not lose my sanity? Every week, Den Delimarsky sits down with folks from a range of industries, roles, and backgrounds to learn more about their career journey, lessons learned, and what it takes to map out your own very unique track.

All Episodes

In this episode, Courtny Cotten and Den Delimarsky talk about what it takes to work remotely, along with some tips and best practices.

Mar 2020

56 min 13 sec

In this episode, Den and Courtny are talking about their career starts.

Apr 2020

29 min 29 sec

In this episode, Courtny Cotten and Den Delimarsky chat with April Speight, Senior Developer Advocate at Microsoft, about social media, writing Python books for kids, and more.

Apr 2020

1 hr 3 min

In this episode, Courtny Cotten and Den Delimarsky chat with Clint Rutkas about PowerToys - a fantastic set of utilities for Windows power users.

May 2020

53 min 58 sec

A virtual fireside chat with Jin Yang, VP of design at CapitalOne. We discuss leadership, building great teams, and wrap up the show with food place recommendations.

Jun 2020

1 hr 6 min

Today, we had the honor of having an in-depth conversation with Matt Swanson, a software engineer at SEP, on engineering best practices, design systems, and managing complexity.

Jun 2020

1 hr 7 min

In this episode of The Work Item, we interview Dan Fernandez, VP of Product for Developer Services at Salesforce. Dan, a tech veteran, talks about product management, skill stacking, and building great developer experiences.

Jul 2020

59 min 36 sec

In this episode of The Work Item, we interview Charmaine Lee, product manager intern at Microsoft, and a friend of the show. Charmaine talks about her experiences breaking into tech, building projects for fun, and being engaged in local tech scenes.

Jul 2020

1 hr

In this episode of The Work Item, we interview Philipp Cannons, CEO and founder of PMFIT.AI - a startup that aims to accelerate product success. Philipp talks about his experience starting a business from scratch and building a deep understanding of large organizations.

Jul 2020

51 min 50 sec

In this episode of The Work Item, we interview Sara Chipps, Director of Public Q and A at Stack Overflow. Sara is also the founder of JewelBots, a company that provides electronic building kits for young inventors. We chat with Sara about community feedback, engineering management career tracks, and building tools for STEM inclusivity.

Aug 2020

52 min 43 sec

We're back after a week-long hiatus with an interview. This time, we chat with Eric Martel, Director of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning at Eidos-Montréal. We re-visit some of the gream games of the past, talk about console development considerations for modern games, and dig into how artificial intelligence and machine learning are going to revolutionize the engineering process.

Aug 2020

1 hr 7 min

In this episode of The Work Item we interview Christina Weng, product designer at Facebook, about building a career in user experience design from scratch.

Sep 2020

58 min 40 sec

In this episode of The Work Item we interview Amanda Silver, Corporate Vice President, Developer Division at Microsoft. We discuss the process of building great developer tools, the human element in product design, and career advice for the long run.

Sep 2020

1 hr

In this episode of The Work Item we interview Richard Lander, Principal Program Manager on the .NET team at Microsoft. Richard does a deep dive on communication, being a generalist vs. specialist, and growing one's career.

Oct 2020

1 hr 3 min

We sit down to chat with Tarun Gangwani, Senior Product Manager at Sanity.io. Tarun is a seasoned PM with tons of expertise to share about the product management domain. With previous experience at Twitch, where he oversaw the entire lifecycle of a developer using extensions and data services to create engaging and personalized viewing and streaming experiences, Tarun is talking about lessons learned, differences between startup and large company environments, along with the ways in which product managers can broaden the understanding of their products and customer needs.

Nov 2020

51 min 20 sec

This weekend, we go outdoors with Bill Kenney, co-founder of Focus Lab, a branding agency that is entirely remote. We talk to Bill about the importance of a good brand and what distinguishes professionals from amateurs in the field.

Nov 2020

1 hr 2 min

In a surprising twist, this week we chat with Christos Matskas on two topics - transitioning from consulting life to a corporate life, as well as about building identity tools and services in the cloud.

Nov 2020

1 hr 2 min

Right before the Thanksgiving break, we are releasing a fresh new episode with Megan Risdal, Product Lead at Kaggle. Megan took the multi-talented route to the career she has today, and enjoys every bit of it. In this episode, we talk about the importance of being a multi-dimensional professional in a product role, finding the best ways to collect customer feedback, and building communities at scale.

Nov 2020

59 min 4 sec

Den and Courtny reflect on the year we just went through, and discuss our plans for 2021. There is a lot to be thankful for, and we had quite a year kickstarting a new podcast from scratch. This also happens to be the last episode of our Season 1.

Dec 2020

41 min 26 sec

Our first episode of the year is with the one and only Scott Hanselman. We tried to come up with a catchy title, but the entire episode could be summarized in one word - intentionality. We discuss Scott’s foray into TikTok, building your own definition of success, and fostering strong relationships with people around you.

Jan 10

54 min 17 sec

Mayuko Inoue made a bold step by defying the stereotypical career path of a software engineer, and became a full-time content creator. Her videos on YouTube answer some of the more salient questions that are almost never covered in your typical coding tutorials and overviews. What was behind this career decision and what were the lessons learned? How do you build a healthy community, and develop a good work-life balance? We talk to Mayuko about her personal take on the unique trajectory she's carving, as well as the lessons learned along the way.

Jan 17

1 hr 1 min

Paige Bailey is one of the few Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) experts who is able to convey complex technical topics in an easy-to-understand and relatable language. Her Twitter feed is full of AI/ML paper recommendations, open source projects, and insights about the ever-evolving tech space. What was her journey like to a career in a very complex domain? What does it mean to build an inclusive AI? This week, we sit down with Paige to learn from her experience.

Feb 1

1 hr 5 min

Charlie Kindel is a tech industry veteran who helped bootstrap, grow, and manage teams that built home servers, phones, voice assistants, home automation software, and hopefully soon - space technologies. In this episode, we dive a bit deeper into Charlie’s approach to product ideation and design, discuss the importance of having a principled organization, and ask questions about his most recent adventure around space.

Feb 21

58 min 37 sec

Jess Lee is the co-founder of dev.to - a developer community that emphasizes the importance of a friendly approach to guiding folks through the tumultuous waters of software development. In this episode, we chat about Jess’ career, the journey to founding Forem - the open-source platform powering large communities, and her experience building successful distributed teams.

Feb 28

52 min

Jack Zerby is not your typical designer. His experience producing music, working at Pentagram and Frog, building startups, pitching to Gary Vee, and now - building tools for creators at Gumroad, puts him square in the middle of a very uncommon career path. In this episode, I chat with Jack to learn more about what motivated him to grow his career, how to break into design, how to make the transition from a big company to a startup, and what does it mean to build compelling narratives in deck format.

Mar 7

1 hr 1 min

There is no single, well-defined path to becoming a product manager. There are more questions than answers when it comes to figuring out which skills are necessary, what books or blog posts to read, or which courses to take. Dan Olsen, the author of The Lean Product Playbook, former product leader at Intuit, Friendster, Box, and the US Navy (he worked on submarine design) shares with us some insights on what it means to grow as a product manager.

Mar 14

58 min 40 sec

There is a certain air of mystery around careers in Human Resources (HR), and David Daniels, who is a veteran HR leader in tech, is here to bring some clarity about the work. David has extensive experience being in HR at Microsoft, Pinterest, and now - Snapchat. He shares his insights about going from education to leadership in some of the most prominent tech companies, fighting against the fixed mindset, and uncommon recommendations for folks wanting to get started with their careers.

Mar 21

47 min 8 sec

Rebecca Murphey tried a lot of things on her way to becoming an engineering manager at Stripe - from journalism to advertisement, and even learning how to fly. In this episode, I sit down with Rebecca to learn more about her path, what were the important lessons learned in her non-tech career that helped her be an efficient engineering leader, and what aspiring engineering managers can start doing today to figure out if this career track is for them.

Apr 4

1 hr 1 min

From Pascal, to writing image processing code, if there is one word you absolutely can’t use to describe Ben Sandofsky‘s career, it would be “uneventful.” He was one of the first mobile engineers at Twitter, had a stint helping build Periscope, and ultimately ventured into unexplored territory to finish a photo app he always wanted, that later became Halide. In this episode, I sit down with Ben to get a better understanding of the decisions he made in his career, and what were the critical turning points that made him start his own studio - Lux.

Apr 11

1 hr 14 min

Folks often forget that engineering is inherently a very creative process. Monica Dinculescu found her own niche where she can build impactful things and do it in some of the most unusual ways possible. An excellent engineer, creative thinker, and fellow Eastern European by origin, Monica joins me today to talk about the things she learned as she figured out her career path.

Apr 18

58 min 32 sec

Talking to Chad Fowler, you quickly realize what true leadership means. Chad has extensive experience leading large technical organizations such as LivingSocial and 6Wunderkinder, being a venture partner at BlueYard Capital, and now - helping make the Internet safer as Chief Product Officer at DEVCON. Did I mention that Chad also is a musician? In this episode, I talk to Chad about his work, lessons learned from music and travel and how those apply to life and career, and what is the approach to consider for one to carve out a path towards an executive role.

Apr 25

1 hr 2 min

Setting your sights high for a career in engineering management might be an appealing endeavor, but it also means that you will be making a lot of assumptions about future roles without really knowing what those roles are truly about. In this episode, I sit down with Camille Fournier - a veteran CTO, speaker, and entrepreneur, to learn more about ways to map out the path to becoming a CTO (or not).

May 9

54 min 8 sec

What lessons can you take away from a music degree and bring into engineering management? How do engineers work with folks in the newsroom at one of the biggest news organization on the planet? Nicole Tibaldi, Senior Engineering Manager at The New York Times (yes, that The New York Times) is here to tell us more about these things, her work, career, and how to foster a culture where your team feels included.

May 16

55 min 41 sec

There are thousands of blog posts, tutorials, and videos that tell you what engineering careers are about, how you should be thinking about your dream job, and promotion trajectory. In this sea of content, it's often hard to separate the common from the edge case. In this episode, I talk to Laurie Barth, a renowned technologist and Senior Software Engineer at Netflix, about the myths we encounter in our careers, and what we can do to think about growth in a sustainable way.

May 30

56 min 7 sec

I often hear about folks moving from engineering to product management and back. Others make the transition from marketing and sales to product management. In a first for this show, today I talk to Janine Co, a product manager who recently joined the Microsoft Teams team, who also happened to switch from following a pre-med path to one in product. What things did she consider when making the switch? What did Janine do to build a network from scratch? It's all in this episode.

Jun 6

56 min 5 sec

There is a bit of a chasm between requirements for building open source projects and those that are designed to be closed. Not surprisingly, it also requires a different set of skills altogether if you want to do it right. To learn more about this, I sat down with Jenn Creighton, Senior Staff Open Source Engineer at Apollo GraphQL. Jenn has been building scalable web experiences at companies such as Ralph Lauren, Chartbeat, and ClassPass, and is now leading the work on one of the most interesting and active open projects out there.

Jun 13

57 min 13 sec

Last time I chatted with Jack, I had pages of questions I still wanted to ask - with this episode, I attempt to address that backlog. And the more I talked to Jack, the more I realized that the theme of his entire career is - “be a builder.” As someone who started and worked at many startups, he sure knows first-hand how to do that well and in a way that is sustainable. Today, we talk about his work at Vimeo, what it means to collaborate with others, and how to build a network of folks that are there when you need them most.

Jun 27

1 hr 2 min

From the early days - when we are growing up, to when we go to school, we tend to be involved in a lot of activities. From sports, to music, painting, coding classes. But as we grow up, we tend to specialize. One is a product manager, or a Python programmer, or even a doctor. According to my good friend Salman Ansari, this is where we have an opportunity to break out of the typical norms and become a polymath - a person with extensive knowledge in several domains. In this episode, I learn more about Salman’s career, as well as his take on how someone can become a polymath.

Jul 11

52 min 22 sec

In the sea of shiny technology objects (I am talking frameworks, tools, libraries, and many others), Dan Shaw has been pretty opinionated - focus on delivering value to the customer first, and tools second. In this episode, I sit down with Dan to learn more about this approach, and how he applied it in his career and work with the Node.js community - after all, he’s known as the Godfather of Node.js.

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Oct 3

59 min 20 sec

Management, and especially engineering management, is way more than just telling others what to build. Talking to Amro Mousa, an engineering manager at Twitter, it becomes evident that a key ingredient to a good team is empathy. In this episode, I learn from him on what the best way is to lead with empathy in a team, and how one should think about the management track as a potential avenue in their career.

Oct 17

44 min 46 sec

Despite what your LinkedIn feed might tell you, a career in FAANG is not the only way to grow in tech. Or even get started in tech, for that matter. There are many variables in play that can help you determine what career track to pursue, but none more important than the answer to your own “Why?” That’s why today I am talking to Chloe Shih, a product manager and content creator, about her journey to a product manager role, struggles along the way, and the realization that work in Big Tech might not be all that interesting or impactful.

Oct 24

1 hr

Whether you are new in the tech industry or are a veteran developer, chances are that you've used a product that Jeff Atwood worked on. I'm talking about Stack Overflow and Discourse, of course. When it comes to building communities and fostering good conversations, Jeff took an unusual position - steer the conversation towards finding the best in people, argue ideas and not people, and ultimately, contribute to a world that's just a bit better. How does it all work? Jeff elaborates in this episode.

Oct 31

58 min 34 sec

Developer Advocacy is a relatively new field, but when it comes to knowing how to navigate it, Brian Douglas' knowledge is second to none. As Director of Developer Advocacy at GitHub, he is at the forefront of a lot of the developer engagement efforts - from understanding the pain points of those that use GitHub, to advocating for new initiatives and programs. I sit down with Brian to learn more about what it takes to be a great developer advocate, how one can break into the field, and how you measure success in the role. Suffice to say - it was a packed conversation and we needed more time and maybe even a future follow-up to cover everything.

Nov 7

57 min 52 sec

You've probably heard of the many types of PM - project managers, product managers, and even program managers. But did you also know that there is a PMM - product marketing manager? I wasn't quite sure what the responsibilities of one would be, so I reached out to Isaac Levin - Principal Product Marketing Manager at Elastic, and asked him to talk about his work.

Nov 14

1 hr 1 min

The decision to join a startup or a big company is not an easy one, as one has to consider many factors that go beyond just the financial side of things. In this episode, I talk to Jennifer Kim, a seasoned startup advisor with a lot of experience dealing with these kinds of decisions and more. Jennifer also specializes in the people part of the startup equation - arguably, one of the hardest ones. We chat about the current challenges startups encounter in this space, why it’s important to build a diverse workforce, and what one individual can do to be a changemaker in their company’s culture.

Nov 28

54 min 11 sec

The myth of the superhero programmer - we often hear about it, but it’s rarely the reality. Being a superhero on a team takes more than just technical chops, and that’s one of the topics that I chat about today with Senior Developer Advocate at Microsoft - Christina Warren. You might’ve seen Christina before on This Week on Channel 9, or even back in the day - at Gizmodo and Mashable. This episode ended up being less of a career chat and more of a friendly exchange about the latest happenings and what we can learn from them. Yes, we even talk a bit about the re-released Grand Theft Auto: The Definitive Edition.

Dec 5

58 min 26 sec