EvolvingWeb Co-Founder Suzanne Dergacheva spills on why she recently joined the Drupal Association, what's happening with Drupal in Montreal, and the Oboe.

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I've felt a great affinity for entities having represented an entity as a person.

This Episode's Guest

Suzanne Dergacheva

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Co-founder and front-end lead at Evolving Web out of Montreal. Does trainings all over the world. Newly elected Drupal Association Board member.

Transcript

Transcript

Chris:
On this episode I'm going behind the screens from DrupalCamp Atlanta with Suzanne Dergacheva. Suzanne, tell me a little bit about what you do with the community, your business, and your recent application and acceptance to be a board member for the Drupal Association.
Suzanne:
Okay. Well, yeah, thanks for having me. I run a Drupal agency up in Montreal, and I've been doing that for the last 10, 11 years. So it's been a while since I've been involved in the Drupal community. I first got involved just by showing up to a Drupal meet up and the first meet up I went to, Angie Byron, Webchick, was there, and so it's really, really exciting because she was telling us all about everything that's going on with Drupal.
Suzanne:
And at the same time, the local community meet up was organizing the first DrupalCamp in Montreal. So of course we were really excited about this and it was kind of a contagious energy, so we signed up to get the t-shirts printed and make the website and somehow in the next two months we had the first DrupalCamp in Montreal. So I guess you could say we really jumped right in.
Chris:
Wow. Yeah, two months you went from the idea to getting it running. So how did that first camp go? I'm assuming it's still continuing today and you have good following up there in Montreal?
Suzanne:
Yeah. Well the first camp was an unconference and there were about 50 people, so since then it's evolved year after year. There's an active community still in Montreal. We have meet ups, not every single month but pretty often and there's an event every year. So this coming year, sometime probably in June, the dates haven't been confirmed yet, but there will be a Drupal event, and it will be Drupal North. So this is the biggest Drupal summit in Canada, and this year it will be in Montreal.
Chris:
How exciting. So tell me a little bit about your company and what sort of work does your company do?
Suzanne:
So we develop and design Drupal websites, when our company started out, we were really a tech focused company, so we were doing mostly just development work, and we've changed and grown over the years. So now we're also doing a lot of strategy and design work, and we do a wide range of projects. Like most Drupal shops, we do some higher education projects, we work with some non-profits, and our particular company, we work in the finance and healthcare sector a fair amount.
Chris:
And so when I say your company, you actually run the company yourself right? Tell me, what's your position?
Suzanne:
Yeah, so I run the company with my husband Alex, we co-founded the company together, so we just call ourselves co-founders. I originally was more on the front end side, so when we started I was doing all the front end development. But I've worn most of the hats in the company, everything from bookkeeping and accounting to HR and doing pitches to clients, and now one of my main roles is running our training program. So I go and teach workshops to teams of new Drupal developers or just people learning Drupal in any capacity.
Chris:
No, I love that, the educational part of that. And I don't believe we actually mentioned the name of your company. What is you company called?
Suzanne:
It's Evolving Web.
Chris:
Okay. So if there's anybody in the Montreal area, Evolving Web, they can get in contact with you to come out and provide some training for them?
Suzanne:
Yeah, and actually we do workshops anywhere in North America, so yeah, you can get in touch with us even in you're in a small town. This past year I've been to places as far away as Marquette Michigan, and Halifax and kind of more far flung places as well.
Chris:
So recently, or actually very recently, you were just accepted or voted in as a board member, a community voted board member for the Drupal Association. So yeah, tell me a little bit about how that process was for you and why you decided to run.
Suzanne:
Yeah. I was really excited to be asked to run in the elections for the Drupal Association board. I've always been involved in the Drupal community but I was really excited to get involved in this capacity because I'm really excited these days about marketing Drupal and growing the community, getting more people involved. I see there's a big need to recruit more people to start using Drupal, become developers, kind of grow that community, and then also market Drupal more to marketing experts and content people, and those kinds of audiences that the Drupal community hasn't always had as much strong numbers.
Chris:
Yeah, it's been more developer centric, sort of development focused, so trying to push out into those other areas.
Suzanne:
Exactly, yeah. And in my trainings, I meet a lot of developers but I also meet a lot of people who are more project managers or content editors or marketing folks and they're trying to learn Drupal too. So I've seen it more from their perspective and so I think there's a real need to kind of talk to those people and explain Drupal to them in terms that they can understand.
Chris:
I think that's really important and that's a great thing to have somebody on the board who has that vision to try and help push that forward. So how many community voted members of the board are there?
Suzanne:
There's two. So of the board, right now it's me and Ryan who are the two members and every year there's an election for a new member, so it's rotating.
Chris:
Okay. And so Ryan is Ryan Szrama?
Suzanne:
Yeah.
Chris:
So have you been part of any meetings or gotten involved with the board just yet?
Suzanne:
Yeah. It was really great. I went to my first board meeting, it was a board retreat, just before Drupal Europe so in Frankfurt in September.
Chris:
Wow. All the way out to Frankfurt. That's-
Suzanne:
Well, Drupal Europe was an amazing event so I was planning to go anyway. The European Drupal community did an amazing job of putting that on, so going to the board meeting was just an extra bonus.
Chris:
Yeah. Oh, fantastic. Having started your own company with your husband now and you're doing trainings, you've been part of the front end like you said, and now part of the DA, if you could give any advice or recommendations to anyone who's entering the community for the first time, what would that be?
Suzanne:
Yeah. I would say being an open source community is such a huge benefit to anyone involved in Drupal and just the fact that people are so willing to open up and share their experiences really means that you can learn a lot form everyone you meet. So my recommendation is just to be open. I'm sort of a somewhat introverted person, so for me at first, going to Drupal events, I didn't feel natural to just go up and start talking to people, but I realized that the more that I opened up and shared what I had learned, the more that I learned from other people.
Suzanne:
And so it's a real exchange in the Drupal community and there's lots of ways, there's lots of channels of communication to get involved. There's going to events, there's just going on Slack channels, there's places on Drupal.org where you can get involved. So I really encourage newcomers to get involved where they feel comfortable and to just start that entryway into getting involved in Drupal.
Chris:
So I wanna flip it around a little bit now, and talk away from Drupal a little bit, so if you were to wake up tomorrow and the internet had just completely disappeared, what are you gonna do with your time?
Suzanne:
Well that would be a scary but also kind of wonderful thing I think. I gave a talk this week about user experience and I was talking about how digital experiences make up more and more of our lives, and so I think having a complete clean break from the internet would kind of be a shock to the system. But I would probably take a really long nap and then it would just open up so many different opportunities.
Suzanne:
Like I studied music when I was back in university and having the time to sit and play the piano and maybe go back to like my love of singing and playing the oboe, and all the things that I used to do, that would be great. And this is like technology that's been around for hundreds of years that does not rely on the internet. So I think it would give us all some time to go back to those pass times.
Chris:
Yeah. That would be wonderful. I like that, it's terrifying and awesome all at the same time. I'm right there with you. So you're fairly familiar with the module ecosystem in Drupal, you've worked in Drupal for a long time now, normally I give my guests a little heads up on this one to think about it a bit but I didn't do that with you, so we'll see how this goes. If you could be any module, what module would you be?
Suzanne:
Oh, if I could be any module.
Chris:
Yeah. What's the module out there in the Drupalsphere that just represents Suzanne?
Suzanne:
So this reminds me of a time, I think it was at DrupalCon London, when Amitai asked me to be in one of his famous DrupalCon sessions, and he had a DrupalCon session which included a fashion show in which I was dressed up as an entity. So I know entity is not a module but since that time, I've felt a great affinity for entities and having represented an entity as a person.
Chris:
I like that. I'll let you slide on that one. You can be the Entity API.
Suzanne:
Okay, okay.
Chris:
It's not technically a module but that is a fantastic answer so I'll take that.
Suzanne:
Well it used to be. It used to be one.
Chris:
Well that's true. Drupal 7...
Chris:
Yup, there you go. There you go. All right. And I always like to wrap these up with a little bit of thanks and gratitude, so if you can think of anyone or a group of people maybe, that you would like to share some gratitude with or say "Thank you" to, who maybe gave you a boost along the way or helped you or when you needed a hand.
Suzanne:
Oh! There's so many people. Well top of mind I guess, just like I mentioned, I was at Drupal Europe in September and I was really inspired by the whole team of people who organized this conference, they stepped in because DrupalCon Europe didn't happen this year and they came in and organized an even that was just amazing and it was as well ... I wouldn't say maybe as well attended as the last DrupalCon year, but pretty much there like about just like a DrupalCon.
Suzanne:
And key in organizing that were Gábor and Baddý and then there was a whole team of people who put forward a ton of work. And that was just a really great inspiration to me and continuing on organizing our Drupal North Event, it really gave me a feeling of momentum and yeah, it's great to see the work that they're doing.
Chris:
Yeah. I've heard so many great things. I was unfortunately unable to attend Drupal Europe but everybody I know who's gone and I just overheard people talking about it, and we did a podcast, Matt and Mike, for Lullabot did a podcast with the organizers of Drupal Europe and it was such a tremendous amount of work I heard for volunteers to put together. But it went off so well. I've heard so many great things about it.
Suzanne:
Yeah. And they actually were able to do a lot of new things, kind of innovating on DrupalCon and coming up with new things like the diversity tickets and better kind of visibility on BOFs. And I wrote a blog post about it just because I was so excited about all the new things that they tried that worked really well.
Chris:
Suzanne, thank you so much for taking a few minutes to talk today. This was wonderful.
Suzanne:
Thank you.

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About host Chris Albrecht

Chris Albrecht
His backend brings all the nerds to the code. Skilled in Drupal development and architecture, you can often find him running through the Colorado wilderness and hosting the Behind the Screens podcast.