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Elevating Our Impact: Leadership Lessons from Women in DevRel


A graphic for the virtual fireside chat with Bear Douglas from Pinecone and Caroline Lewko from DevRel.Agency

On March 21, in celebration of Women's Month, we hosted a virtual fireside chat featuring two distinguished women leaders in Developer Relations (DevRel): Bear Douglas, Director of Developer Relations at Pinecone, and Caroline Lewko, Co-Founder of DevRel.Agency.

Bear Douglas and Caroline Lewko shared insights into leadership in DevRel based on their experiences. The conversation touched upon various aspects, including identifying leadership, building relationships internally, supporting women in leadership, and elevating DevRel practices. Additionally, we received overwhelmingly positive feedback on the breakout rooms, where attendees had the chance to connect and engage with their peers. These breakout sessions proved to be an integral part of the event and will continue to be a feature of our future sessions.

Key Takeaways

Recognizing Leadership Potential

Caroline Lewko: "We wanted to take the opportunity to talk about women in leadership and I really wanted Bear Douglas to join. We met in almost 11 years ago at Mobile World Congress and she's somebody who has always really impressed me, right from the beginning, and I remember when I first met her thinking, this young lady has leadership qualities, and I have to say, Bear, you haven't disappointed us."

Bear Douglas: "Thank you for that early vote of confidence. You were a wonderful early mentor and it's wonderful to be here now a decade later and seeing where we've come in the last 10 years."

Bear Douglas: "I remember being at Facebook and helping people who were trying to navigate the promotions process understand how it even worked, what leveling was, where they stood, and how they should think about their own performance and was acting in this sort of peer coach capacity for quite some time. The reason that I was even able to move into management is because a colleague, who worked with me at Facebook then moved to Twitter, recognized that I had been doing that for the team, and he needed to hire somebody to lead the developer relations team for the new SDK product they were building. He tapped me to interview and so having that opportunity was a matter of doing it and having people see that I was doing it in the first place. The kicker for me was that I actually enjoyed it. I thought it was important to see systems clearly that affect your career and being able to help people in a concrete meaningful way was important to me.”

Bear Douglas: "I had early convictions that came from interacting with developers a lot about what I felt was important. So I'm thinking about very early days at Facebook where our investment in our developer events really ebbed and flowed with the tides and opinions and whether people thought that investing in the community was particularly important. I had spent enough time with people that I thought, no, absolutely not. We can't disappear one day and come back later and say did you even notice we were gone. There was an importance in continuity there that I ended up filling in as much as I could with just my own time where I couldn't have actual sponsorship dollars. I said I'm gonna keep up this events program. I'm gonna go to a hackathon every weekend, and I just kept on getting out there because I had the conviction that it was important, and that conviction can really insulate you against any feeling that there's imposter syndrome that you shouldn't be the one to lead."

Fostering Community Support

Caroline Lewko: "I really like to support the women in the community, whether I tell them I've seen them do a good job or I really like what they're doing. Supporting the community is a really big part of leadership. One of the things I love what you did, Bear, was I saw the leadership that you had in identifying career ladders. Not only did you do that to think about how people can grow within your organization but you made that public. A leader who can look outside themselves and think about their community really elevates the type of leader that you are and I've seen you do that."


Bear Douglas: "Creating the opportunities and spotting them for people who wouldn't necessarily self-identify is helpful wherever you can. I think Step One for people like you and me is recognizing the power that we've amassed over the last 10 or 15 years, the experience and the confidence that we can lend to others and say, you can do this. I'm here to help. That confidence, lending that support, being really a sponsor rather than just a mentor, can be really meaningful. One of the things that I appreciate about being a manager is that I do have much more scope for helping people meaningfully. They're more concrete things you can do for people when they're on your team.”

Watch the Full Event Video







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