Advice from 5 Joomla! project leaders: Part 2

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Women who code club

Last week, five Joomla! project leaders shared insights into their roles and advice for how to be a great leader in an open source community.

Here, we share with you five more leaders in open source sharing wisdom and advice for men and women interested in learning more about how to have a successful career in open source.

Sarah WatzSarah Watz

Leadership role (current): Board Member of Open Source Matters, Inc. (October 2012-present); President of the Joomla! User Association Sweden (November 2008-March 2012); Vice President of the Joomla! User Association Sweden (November 2007-November 2008); Joomla! Day Sweden Organizer and Joomla! Night Sweden Organizer

Area contributing to: In my role as a board member I work with the other board members with the responsibility for budget, legal issues, trademark usage, events, marketing, public relations etc. I also work with a great team to make the Joomla Certification Program come alive.

Who has contributed to your leadership skills over the years?

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My husband Peter that is my partner in life and business that always makes sure that I don’t lose my edge. My kids Kate (12 years old) and Philip (10 years old) always let’s me look at the world through their eyes to see their way of learning and exploring. My dad, who is no longer among us, always encouraged me to step up and lead. He made sure that I got the confidence to try and fail. And then get up again trying again and finding new ways to succeed. My mom always has my back and makes sure that I’m grounded and seeing things like they are. My team at my digital agency Pixpro enthusiastically inspires me to the great things a team can do when working together with people that have different backgrounds, experiences, and knowledge. The, great things can not be prevented to happen.

What is your advice to someone new to a leadership position?

Listen first. Be humble to the differences in how to tackle things and be sure to embrace the difference. Your opinion/experience/voice matters so speak up. Even if things have been done a certain way before you, joining a leadership position doesn’t mean that they have to stay that way. Don’t be afraid of change. If we don’t progress we slowly die.

What is something surprising about your life?

I love scrapbooking and quilting.

Marike Stuivenberg

Marijke Stuivenberg

Leadership role (current): Assistant Secretary Board of Open Source Matters, Inc. (October 2010-present); Secretary Stichting Sympathy (Dutch foundation that supports Joomla in the Netherlands, January-present); Manager and co-founder Dutch Joomla Community (October 2008-present); Leader Dutch Translation Team (2007-present), Coordinator Joomla Translation Teams (September 2009-present)

Area contributing to: I started contributing to Joomla by translating the core into Dutch for the Dutch community when Joomla 1.5 was released. When translating software, you have to check if your translation makes sense and you get to use all features including producing errors. By doing so I started to find bugs and was getting annoyed if they weren’t fixed when there was a new release. That’s when I learned that they probably won’t get fixed until you report them at the tracker. After posting and testing bugs I was asked to join the Joomla Bug Squad and started to contribute by helping testing the fixes others provided and learned much from it. In the meantime the Dutch community was up for improvement and together with some others we kind of forked the existing community and founded a new one.

The community and the Dutch JoomlaDays are now operated under the Dutch foundation Stichting Sympathy that I co-founded. I also contribute and help organizing the Dutch JoomlaDays who has a very good reputation in the international Joomla Community. This Dutch community cares about contributing and collaborating with the international project. The Dutch translation of Joomla core got accredited and I joined the Joomla Translation Team. That team exists of translators from over the whole world that translate Joomla core. Shortly after joining that team, I was asked to also help coordinate the team.

The Coordination Translation Team helps new translators to set up their translation the proper way, informs all the Translation Teams of upcoming releases, new strings to be translated and provide the means to distribute these translations. I always feel that if there is an area where you can truly experience the barriers of languages, time zones and cultures, that is the one. In 2010 I was nominated for a position on the board of Open Source Matters. Open Source Matters provides the organizational, legal, and financial support for the Joomla! open source project. Internationalization has been one of the main areas that I have been working on and interested in to get (high) on the agenda since I was elected on the board.

Who has contributed to your leadership skills over the years?

I think it is impossible to name one person. Every person in your life is your teacher, even your worst enemy. I have wondered why I end up often in leadership roles though. And I came to the conclusion that my parents, the way they brought me up and especially my mother has been a great role model for me. My mother didn’t have the chance to have the education I did, but that didn’t keep her from stepping up and taking on leadership positions when she was passionate about the cause. She never stopped learning, and I guess she was my inspiration to not be afraid of speaking up my mind and showed me that you can never know everything, but you are able to learn, especially from your mistakes and by listening to other people around you.

What is your advice to someone new to a leadership position?

Be passionate about your tasks but don't let your emotions lead you.

Never take on a leadership role for gaining personal status, it will tear you down at the end.

Listen to others but don't be afraid to speak up and share your own thoughts. After all, the leaders you work with are a bunch of people that look at things from all kind of different angles. Sometimes you have to step a few passes away and take your time to look at the problem you are trying to solve from a bigger distance to be able to see it from more than only your own perspective.

Be honest, don’t be afraid to admit you made a mistake or didn’t get to the task you promised to execute. Hiding it is much worse.

Learn and never stop learning!

What is surprising about your life?

I don’t do any professional business with Joomla (yet). I’m a professionally educated musician; I play the Saxophone. Not jazz, though I am passionate about it too. What you probably didn’t know is that the Saxophone is a classical instrument too, and that's the kind of music I play.

I teach about 50 students a week how to play the Saxophone at a music school in my area. When I studied how to play the Saxophone at the conservatory, I was the only female student. I played in a Big Band for years as the only female. Now most of my students are female and I’m always glad when a new male student applies! Yes, things can definitely change according gender.

It is amazing to experience how Joomla and my history as a musician come together in so many areas. Lots of time I use my experience in music within the Joomla project and vice versa. I’m passionate about open source and the accessibility of software for people all over the world, and I feel the same about being able to learn and let music be a part of your life.

Claire Mandville

Leadership role (current): I am the Vulnerable Extensions List (VEL) Manager in charge of a small team who reacts to and informs on all the vulnerable extension list items. I work closely with the Joomla Extensions Developers (JED) dealing with resolutions from developers.

Area contributing to: I also liaise with the Joomla Security Strike Team (JSST) dealing with the incoming reports and queries on Joomla core security.

I co-moderate the Joomla security forums for all versions.

I previously worked on the trademark and licensing team as the domain keeper; dealing with the incoming registrations and advising of any requirements to be met.

Who has contributed to your leadership skills over the years?

I would honestly say "the Joomla community". There are so many different angles, attitudes, ideas and it is the main feeder for direction suggestions.

What is your advice to someone new to a leadership position?

Learn the rules. As a leader you are expected to enforce any rules, so try and do that fairly until you have listened to your team learning what does and doesn't work and then look at how it can be fixed. Try and be firm but fair, take each challenge as they come, be diplomatic with any delegation you do.

What is surprising about your life?

I speak English, Irish, and Quebecois. I used to play flageolet and bodhran. I dont have a passport. I hacked my first computer network circa 1984 at school (EcoNet). I train Neighbourhood Renewal areas in ICT. And, I hold physical security licences and am also licenced to drive type A,B,C and D/ D1 vehicles in Europe.

Andrea Tarr

Andrea Tarr

Leadership role (current): Co-manager of Joomla User Group New England (2011-present)

Area contributing to:

My recent yet past leadership roles were: Production Leadership Team (June 2011-June 2013), Board Member Open Source Matters, Inc. (October 2010-June 2011), JoomlaDay New England co-organizer (2009-2013).

I got involved with Joomla through the Joomla User Group New England and helped co-ordinate the first JoomlaDay New England. I contributed to the project as part of the Google Summer of Code 2009 when I wrote the accessible administrator template Hathor for Joomla 1.6. From there I joined the Joomla Bug Squad and started talking at various Joomla Days. When I was on the Production Leadership Team, I focused on closer ties with the development community at large and getting developers involved in the Joomla roadmap and working groups.

Who has contributed to your leadership skills over the years?

My parents. They just assumed that I was capable of doing anything I wanted and that it was perfectly natural that I had a passion for mathematics. I started tutoring other students while I was still in elementary school because I could see they wanted help and it was something I could do. I tend to assume leadership roles when there's a vacuum that needs filling rather than actively seeking them out.

What is your advice to someone new to a leadership position?

Don't be afraid to make mistakes. Really listen to what people are saying, notice what they are actually doing and make decisions.

What is surprising about your life?

I was 8th in the USA rankings in Women's C-1 whitewater slalom racing in 2000. There's a funny story behind that, so ask me about it when we meet at a conference sometime. I have, at one point or another in my life, played flute, guitar, soprano recorder, alto recorder, mandolin, mountain dulcimer, hammered dulcimer, and concertina. I belong to two dance groups, as dancer, teacher and choreographer. I took my notes in college in the Anglo Saxon script, I am a former librarian, and live with my cats. Oh, yes, and I knit, too.

Jessica Dunbar

Jessica Dunbar

Leadership role (current): Marketing Lead

Area contributing to: I have volunteered in numerous areas of the Joomla project. Currently, I’m serving as lead of the Marketing Team.

I am an active member of our local Joomla User Group Milwaukee USA. I have assisted in organizing Joomla Day Midwest (November 2011) and helped with other Joomla events.

Last but not least, I have long supported the project. Either personally or via my current employer, I have spoke at or attended many local and international Joomla events, including: J!Day Chicago, J!Day Midwest, J!Day Boston, J!Day NL J!Day Las Vegas, and more.

Who has contributed to your leadership skills over the years?

There are literally hundreds of people who have supported me along the way.

My Dad, Chad Windnagle, Wilco Jansen, Vic Drover, Michael Babker, Ron van Schaik, to name a few.

What is your advice to someone new to a leadership position?

Remember in open source people want status, belonging, and recognition for what they do. Dare to be different. Create a kick ass culture. Respect your teammates.

What is surprising about your life?

I’m involved in multiple open source projects including: Concrete5 leadership, and I am currently helping to organize Milwaukee WordCamp. You can follow my tech, sports-related, and Internet happenings on twitter @jessicadunbar.




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Joomla! is an award-winning content management system (CMS), which enables you to build Web sites and powerful online applications. Many aspects, including its ease-of-use and extensibility, have made Joomla! the most popular Web site software available. Best of all, Joomla! is an open source solution that is freely available to everyone.

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