Why do we need, “Mentoring the Mentors” – Traditionally, SPE (Systems Performance Engineering) professionals have gained knowledge and expertise mostly through hands on experience working in fire fighting situations fixing performance or capacity related issues for their clients. Speak to most experienced SPE professionals and you’ll soon learn that the best understanding of any SPE (Systems Performance Engineering) related discipline (i.e. Performance Modelling, Performance Testing, Capacity Management, Application Performance Management, etc.) is gained through years of effort fighting customer fires. It’s strange but that’s absolutely true.
However, a wise man once said, “What doesn’t destroy you only makes you stronger”. You’ll also learn when speaking to SPE (Systems Performance Engineering) professionals that one needs to be incredibly lucky to get called upon to build performance into an application proactively (i.e. Performance driven design and development which is as rare as a blue moon) at Requirements Gathering, Design, Architecture and Build.
Secondly, as professionals we all have finite career spans and when our careers come to an end the experience that we have gained over number of decades is lost. It is absolutely rare for one to find an SPE (Systems Performance Engineering) professional who has chosen to write book(s) to capture the knowledge gained through decades of hands on industry experience. Most SPE (Systems Performance Engineering) professionals just don’t have the wherewithal to assemble all their learning into a concise manual or book that can be made available to rest of the world. As a result we are all bound to re-invent wheel time and again when it comes to building systems that scale. To complicate the issue, Systems Performance Engineering (SPE) is only taught in a handful of universities around the world in a very academic setting with very few text books doing any real justice to the subject.
With the above background we now ask ourselves the question, “How are we to further the profession of Systems Performance Engineering (SPE) when there is very little documented material available and absolutely lack of training on the subject”.
The situation we find ourselves in has led us to set up an initiative at Practical Performance Analyst focused on Mentoring called, “Mentoring the Mentors“. We realized that we need a program where we not only capture and retain the skills and talent in SPE (Systems Performance Engineering) but also mentor budding SPE professionals with an aim to making them successful and more importantly helping them become the next generation of mentors here at Practical Performance Analyst.
So let’s take a look at our definition of Mentoring along with the objectives, outcomes expected including the type of candidates who might be able to apply.
Definition – We define mentoring as the process of supporting and encouraging budding SPE professionals to manage their own learning in order that they may maximise their potential, develop their skills, improve their performance and become the professional they want to be. Mentoring is a powerful personal development and empowerment tool that focuses on both the technical and non technical (i.e. leadership, people development, etc.) aspects of development. It is an effective way of helping professionals to progress in their careers and is becoming increasing popular as its potential is realised.
Mentoring is truly a partnership between two people (mentor and mentee) normally working in a similar field or sharing similar experiences. It is a helpful relationship based upon mutual trust and respect. At the end of the program the mentees are expected to take on roles of mentors in some shape and form with gradually increasing responsibility as they gain relevant industry experience.
Objectives – The objectives of the “Mentoring the Mentor” program at Practical Performance Analyst are:
- Support budding Performance Engineers and help grow the talent in SPE across the Systems Development Life Cycle
- Prevent the loss of skills through constant skills transfer among SPE professionals around the world
- Help budding SPE professionals develop a relevant career development plan and an associated learning plan
- Help budding SPE professionals build a strong understanding of SPE across the Systems Development Life Cycle
- Encourage mentees to become mentors themselves on completion of the mentoring program
- Encourage mentees to participate in collaborative open programs here at Practical Performance Analyst
Mentoring Process – The mentor works very closely with the mentee, helps them believe in themselves, helps boost their confidence and more importantly coaches them with a focus on helping them gain relevant skills in areas of SPE (Systems Performance Engineering). A mentors job is to work with the mentee, ask relevant questions, challenge the status quo, identify the mentee’s strenths, weaknesses and interests. The mentor then helps the mentee evolve a learning plan, while providing guidance and encouragement to the mentee. The process might look something like the following:
- Mentee puts in an application
- Applications reviewed and if approved gets assigned to a mentor
- Mentor sets up initial discussion with mentee with the following objectives –
- Get to know mentee better
- Understand mentee’s strengths and weaknesses
- Understand mentee’s professional goals
- Identify areas of focus for the short and long term
- Mentor then –
- Works with mentee over email to identify a learning plan along with milestones
- Works with mentee to identify opensource initiatives that the mentee is able to take up
- Coaches, guides and supports the mentee on the agreed career learning path
- Sets up quarterly catchup sessions with each of the mentees
- What Next –
- Once the mentee has mastered the relevant skills, the Mentee is expected to take on the role of a mentor
- Mentee is also expected to participate and assist with one of the open initiatives in the SPE space
The process of mentoring allows the mentee to explore new areas, take on new challenges and move into unchartered territory with confidence. It is a chance for the mentee to look more closely at themselves, their limitations, their strengths, opportunities and what they really want out of their professional careers with an objective of building the skills that are relevant to them. Mentoring is about becoming more self aware, taking responsibility for ones professional career and directing ones life in the direction they decide, rather than leaving it to chance. The communication mechanism for the mentoring process will be emails.
What’s expected from the Mentee – The mentee is expected to:
- Be responsible for their own career development and work closely with the mentor on evolving a learning plan
- Take ownership of their learning plan, demonstrate responsibility and achieving the various milestones
- The mentee is expected to be proactive and reach out to the mentor for any support required over email
- The mentee will become a mentor at the end of the program and take on at-least one mentee
- Collaborate and participate in an opensource program for the duration of the mentoring program
- Proactively reach out to the mentor to discuss issues or questions with regards to meeting the various milestones
- Invest in any resources required to meet the goals and milestones defined in the career development program
- The mentee can use the quarterly catchup sessions to review progress and get feedback on any changes required
What can be expected from the Mentor – One accepted into the program the mentor can be expected to:
- Help the mentee evolve a learning program suited to the candidates short term and long term professional goals
- Coach the mentee on an ongoing basis and provide support to the mentee with regards to meeting the various milestones defined in the learning program
- Support the mentee on an ongoing basis and provide guidance with regards to access to relevant learning material and content to achieve the various milestones defined in the learning program
- Coaching over email with one kick off call over Google Hangout or Skype and one follow up call every 3 months
Who might be able to apply – Here is what we think potential candidates (mentees) for the program will demonstrate:
- Participation and contribution in open source activities including ones possibly related to SPE
- Excellence in work related projects
- Experience in some aspects of SPE with demonstrated excellence in one of the areas
How to apply – To apply to the program you need to provide us the following details.
Please use the following Application Form to reach out to us and provide us the relevant details.
- 5-6 lines on why should you be taken into the program
- 5-6 lines on the various professional accomplishments as outlined above
- Links to other collaborative efforts or opensource project you might have participated in
- Anything else you think will make you stand out in a crowd
- Link to you LinkedIn CV
What to keep in mind – We request all applicants and program members to keep the following in mind:
- Our volunteer mentors are very experienced professionals with years of experience in different aspects of SPE (Systems Performance Engineering) across the Systems Development Life Cycle.
- Our volunteers have full time jobs as well and try to juggle volunteer activities along with a family and a full time job so please expect delays in responses to your emails.
- Please respect the privacy of both the mentors and mentees and stick to the framework laid down for this program.
- Mentees also need to note that they are still in charge of their own careers and completely responsible for all the decisions they make personally and professionally.
- This is purely a mentoring program, mentees cannot at any point use this program to answer work related question or challenges.
- All conversations between mentors and mentees must be kept private. No customer data or information should be shared at any point.
Our Mentors – Here is our current list of distinguished mentors.
- Alex Podelko – LinkedIn
- Bob Wescott – LinkedIn
- Dmitry Agranat – LinkedIn
- Dr. Neil Gunther – LinkedIn
- Trevor Warren – LinkedIn
The list of mentors will be updated as we sign up more distinguished SPE professionals.
If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to the program administrators at “mentoring at practical performance analyst dot com”. Please note that our mentors do this on a voluntary basis and you will be matched depending on the availability of slots and the strength of your applications along the above lines. Being in the SPE profession doesn’t give you the right to ask for enrollment. Enrollment into the program is at the discretion of the program administrators and volunteer members.
Best wishes and feel free to reach out to us over email with any questions, comments or clarification.