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Open Source / Software Development / Tech Culture

The Developer’s Career Path: Discover’s Approach

Angel Diaz discusses how Discover Financial Services built an academy of 15,000 software engineers to learn together as craftspeople.
Jun 21st, 2023 2:03pm by
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VANCOUVER — With great engineers who create great code comes a lot of learning, said Angel Diaz, vice president of technology capabilities and innovation at Discover Financial Services.

“It’s not just creating great code, but learning and learning from each other and teaching each other,” said Diaz, in this On the Road episode of The New Stack Makers, recorded at Open Source Summit North America.

Diaz largely works as the leader of a serious effort at Discover called The Discover Technology Academy, a community of about 15,000 engineers.

“Now, let’s not think of it as some ivory tower institution,” Diaz said. “It’s actually a place where we come together as craftspeople.”

Developers and engineers at the academy, he said, define and develop processes they create for building software.

A developer’s journey at Discover, Diaz told The New Stack, starts by contributing content, with this notion of atomic elements: articles, blogs, videos and tutorials. Then, they take it a step further to democratize the knowledge. That serves as the basis for what they do. They then encompass the open source principles of communities, guilds, and similar established practices.

“The way we work and discover is defined by us and for us,” Diaz said. “It’s about contributing knowledge, gaining knowledge and then sharing that knowledge.”

Golden Paths and Pair Programming

The Discover developer experience embodies itself in the concept of the golden path, Diaz said. It’s far more than just consuming blogs and videos. It’s also about code and automation. How to get the development environment set up.

“You want to build a Spring Boot app inside a container?” Diaz asked. “Well, we’ve got a golden path, here’s how we do that. So engineers and developers have the ability to find those different paths, bring them into their environment to quickly get stood up so they can get started with building and contributing within the team.”

Pair programming serves as another aspect of the learning process. Developers learn together. It’s a cultural approach that gets built into Discover’s talent system.

The work Diaz describes at Discover extends beyond the financial services company, so engineers can share what they do with the external community.

“So one of the things that we recently announced in January was,” Diaz said. “And that is a kind of a subset of our academy, where we share our people, we share our knowledge and so forth.

“And here we are, at the Open Source Summit, sharing some of our open source work with others and that’s another way of growing because growing your career, you want those …  merit badges. I’m a maintainer here or I’m a contributor there, right? So you can talk about, not just the internal guilds that you’re leading or contributing, and put that on your LinkedIn profile.”

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