It's been a busy week with a number of MVPs welcomed to the Community corner, a fantastic UmbracoTees day today and unfortunately CodeGarden 2020 was cancelled.
Lotte had her Umbraco MVP award renewed this year and she has given great answers to the MVP questionnaire. Grab yourself a coffee, tea, beer, or wine and enjoy her interview below.
Job Title: Web developer / business owner
MVP Status: Renewal
Twitter account: @lottepitcher
Website / Blog: paminternet.co.uk
How did you first hear about Umbraco CMS?
Back in 2011, a friend wanted to build a website and he couldn’t choose between DotNetNuke and Umbraco. He asked me to help him decide. Umbraco was my clear winner and I realised it was a great fit for my own web development business (we’d rolled our own CMS until then). The first project I built for a client used v4.7. Sadly this friend and I lost touch long before I became an Umbraco MVP so I haven’t been able to explain the knock-on effect of that evening!
How long have you been part of the Umbraco community and what do you like / dislike about it?
I discovered the community when I attended Level 2 training with Darren Ferguson for that first project and he took us all to the pub at the end of the first day. I’d worked in a very small sphere until then and was delighted to spend an evening with like minded people.
I guess I became part of the community when I started going to the London meet-ups, then run by Adam Shallcross, later on that year. The second Thursday of every month has been a recurring calendar event ever since!
I love how supportive the Umbraco community is. Not just in terms of helping out with coding questions, and knowledge sharing via blog posts and talks, but by really looking out for each other and providing an online community to ‘escape’ to that is separate to people’s work.
Have you been to Codegarden? If yes, what did you think about it, if no, is there any reason why?
Yes, every year since I first went in 2012. Sadly I won’t be going this year as they announced this week the cancellation of CG20 because of COVID-19. It is such a shame, but no one disagrees with that decision. At my first CodeGarden I met a lot of wonderful people. Those people made me want to use the product more. I’m sad that new Umbracians will have to wait longer to experience it for themselves.
How did it feel when you received the notification that you were being awarded an MVP award?
Surprised, of course, has anyone said they expected it?! In 2016 I was made a “community” MVP so I guess for organising London Umbraco monthly meet-ups. I got involved with organising the meet-ups because I got so much out of attending them, and wanted to ensure they continued and grew. Big shout out to Ravi Motha for encouraging me to become an organiser, and more recently to Callum Whyte for joining our merry band.
It was the first year that Umbraco HQ formally recognised contributions outside of code, packages and forum posts. I was proud to represent another way we can make meaningful contributions.
Has being awarded the MVP made you look at things differently / has it changed anything in your day to day life e.g. asked to do more Umbraco talks? Asked more Umbraco questions at your workplace?
It hasn’t really made any difference to my work, as I have always been the lead on all things Umbraco in my company. But it has definitely made me appreciate the position that I found myself in. 2016 was the first time a woman had been made an Umbraco MVP, and there I was on the CodeGarden stage high fiving Niels with Janae and Erica. I’ve been told by people in that audience that they were encouraged and inspired to see it. It is utterly humbling when someone tells you something like that, but it also makes you want to do more, to be more visible, to keep passing it forward. So it really does encourage me to keep going. Not that I need any encouragement, I do what I do because I enjoy it and get a lot from it.
If you could offer a new member of the community one bit of advice, what would it be?
Just be yourself. It’s easy to say we’re a friendly bunch. But if you can take yourself along to a local meet-up I hope you discover it for yourself. If you’re not comfortable initiating conversations then seek out an organiser of the meet-up and say hello. It’s their job to introduce you to people. If you attend a meet-up and leave without talking to anyone having just listened to the talks, then we have failed you. So a reminder for meet-up regulars, let’s adopt that pac-man technique and leave space for people to join in; let’s not rely on them to force their way in.
Tell us about 1 of your most favourite things whether it's a band, a colour, a bit of software you couldn't live without, an item of clothing, a book, anything but tell us why you love it so much.
It has to be a good pen, the right pen... In this day and age I know everything should be digital and yes, most scribbles of note do have to be consolidated on Trello later. But I just love writing with pen on paper, I think better that way. My current favourite is the 0.38 black gel ink pen from Muji.
What does a typical day look like for you during the working week?
I usually begin work by treating myself to some coding to get the brain going. I know I should “eat the frog” first but I find it works best to tackle it second. The rest of the day will be a mix of project management, talking to clients, prospecting, and more development work. I have a small business so I have a glorious range of things to do each day. There might be some Package Team related stuff to do as well. I’m really enjoying seeing what improvements we can help bring about in that space. After work it’s usually playing netball, ukulele lessons, meetups… Living in London you could go to three tech meetups a night if you so wanted (I don’t, for the record).
What do you do in your spare time? Hobbies?
I do enjoy doing a cryptic crossword. I created a code related one for the Ladies of Code advent calendar last year. The crossword is still online (https://lotte.dev) if you want to have a go. And I’m learning to play the ukulele as mentioned above. It’s a great excuse for a sing-along (with apologies to my neighbours!)
Anything else you'd like to share with the Umbraco Community?
Only that I’m grateful to be part of it. And, in the words of Jon Skeet who spoke at Umbraco Spark last week, “be kind”
Where to find Owain