Atomic Tech Lead 2020 Learning Interests

Last week, the tech leads in Atomic’s Grand Rapids office got together to share professional development interests and brainstorm opportunities for 2020.

Atomic has sponsored employee professional development since its beginning, including an internal conference (“Atomic Con”) and funding for conferences, certifications, classes, reading groups, etc. This year, the Grand Rapids tech leads wanted to get out ahead of the year and coordinate our efforts to take the best advantage of our prof dev activities.

Personal Interests

From the group of 14 tech leads, we saw several themes crop up as topics of personal interest that were exciting to at least a couple of people:

  • Cloud platform mastery/certifications – AWS, Azure in particular
  • Machine Learning/Data Science
  • Consulting skills – e.g. leadership, group facilitation, and design thinking
  • Domain-driven design and software architecture
  • Embedded software development
  • Tuning projects for large organizations and IT departments


An annual conference attendance is a pretty typical prof dev choice for many Atoms, and some of the tech leads were eying specific conferences:

Others were interested in a “stay-conference,” internal slang at Atomic for a multi-day internal activity where a group of Atoms rent a space offsite and work together through a self-guided curriculum. While most conferences offer a survey of community topics, stay-conferences are an effective method for taking a deep dive into something new.

We’re seeing traction about potential stay-conferences or other internal activities focused on:

  • Machine learning and data science
  • Cloud platforms (AWS and/or Azure)
  • Embedded software development
  • Domain-driven design

Advancing Technical Consulting Practice

This set of interests and activities aligns nicely with the tech lead role these Atoms are currently occupying. This role bears the ultimate responsibility for engineering and executing on the implementation of the software we’re delivering to clients. It’s cool to see, across the group, how different individuals’ interests complement each other, and how the need to grow as a technical consultant for future projects is shaping the landscape.

Sharing our interests with one another was also great for stimulating ideas and discussion. During the discussion, one idea would morph and strengthen with ideas and input from others, not to mention the fact that it helped birds-of-a-feather find each other within the office, illuminating group professional development opportunities that weren’t obvious at the outset.

Personally, this has gotten me excited for my own professional development in 2020!