Michelle Brenner

Microphone for speech, with blurred background

Michelle is available for speaking opportunities both locally and abroad.


Document Yourself

Audience: All career levels
Length: This should be at least 60 minutes, but can vary based on audience size and engagement.
Appearances: ReDeploy 2019
Slides: Download
Interactive Worksheets: Success Statements, Brag Sheet, Elevator Pitch
Printable Worksheet: Download
Video: ReDeploy 2019

The goal of this workshop is to document yourself the way you would document code. You wouldn’t expect someone who wants to use the program you built to read every line of code. Instead, they’re relying on the design documents and docstrings to know how it works. The same is true with your career. This workshop is about making it easy for you to provide overwhelming evidence of your value to the company. When you can show your ROI, it’s much easier to secure that promotion, raise or a new job that you deserve.

This workshop consists of 3 parts. Writing your daily accomplishments in the form of success statements. Putting them together into a brag sheet. And finally using them to create your elevator pitch. Using this framework makes it easy to make a habit of documenting, the same way a style guide helps you document your code. Once you have documented yourself, you will be amazed at how much you have accomplished. You will walk out of the workshop with the confidence and plan to take your next step.


Perfecting Your Pitch

Audience: All career levels
Length: This should be at least 60 minutes, but can vary based on audience size and engagement.
AppearancesSoCalCodeCamp 2018, Diana Initiative 2019

Slides: Download
Worksheet: Download
Video: Not Yet Available

Whether you are pitching a company or pitching yourself for a job, it is critical to highlight your strongest skills in a way that makes your audience excited about you. People often downplay their accomplishments or talk about every single thing they’ve ever done. During this workshop, we’ll go over a series of strategies that can be used to help articulate and refine your story for different audiences. We’ll work together on questions designed to help you figure out how amazing you are and what you excel at. By the end of the workshop, you will have a bank of stories and the confidence to give the best pitch at any time.


Ahead in the Clouds: How to get started with serverless on Google, Amazon & Microsoft

Audience: Early/Mid Career
Length: 30-45 minutes, including Q&A
Appearances: Kansas City Developer Conference
GitHub: AWS Serverless TemplateAzure Serverless Template, Google Serverless Template

Video: Not Yet Available
Slides: Download

Serverless apps are everywhere these days, but how do you get started? How do you decide which provider to go with? I have created the same Python based app with 3 services, AWS, Google Cloud & Microsoft Azure. I will go over what’s the same, what’s different, and how to judge what’s right for your project.

My goal for creating this app was to answer these questions. What services are available for which languages, but especially Python? How fast can I get to coding? How do I programmatically define the infrastructure? How do I test everything? How is their CI/CD pipeline? How do I secure the app? How can I monitor what is going on?

During my research I ran into a common problem. There are guides on how to use the UI to create samples. There is technical documentation that will give you the name of the flag you are looking for. There is rarely a user story to help you go from nothing to a running application. My user story is that I wanted an endpoint that allows you to add data to persistent storage, get, edit and delete that data. Seems straightforward, but there is a steep learning curve that had me tearing my hair out. This talk is not just to give you a better understanding of serverless offerings, but to keep you from getting discouraged at the inevitable blockers. At the end of this talk you’ll walk out with the confidence to create your first serverless microservice and smash any walls you hit along the way.

CFP Secrets: Judges Tell All

Audience: All career levels
Length: 45-90 min, depending on time for writing.
Appearances: PyLadies MeetUp
Slides: Download
Co-Presenter: Annie Flippo

Michelle and Annie  spent more than 100 hours reading and rating submissions to the largest tech conference for women. They have also attended, submitted to and spoken at numerous technical conferences since their careers began. You’ll hear about the common pitfalls and the most engaging CFPs they have encountered. Michelle and Annie will also delve into distilling an idea into a polished topic for your audience, the editing process, how to refine the content and portray yourself as the best choice to deliver that message.

How to use data to get your next raise

Audience: Early/Mid Career
Length: 30-45 minutes, including Q&A
AppearancesPyData Los Angeles 2018Scale 17X
ROI Tracker
Video: PyDataLA 2018Scale 17X
Article: OpenSource.com

Most people dread the annual review process. It is difficult to remember everything you have done and summarize it in a concise, clear way. As engineers, there is the additional factor of translating technical achievements into a format business folks can understand. I propose a solution for tracking and reporting achievements in a way that’s simple and easy for stakeholders to understand. This talk will consist of two main parts. After outlining the difficulty of annual reviews with a real life example, I will explain the manual solution of success statements. A success statement is a sentence that explains a single achievement and how it contributes to the bottom line. This is a great place to start, but can be tedious to add up all the information for reports. The second part is about the app I created and how you can use it to store and automatically summarize the data multiple ways. I’ll get into the different ways to manipulate the data and how to deploy the app to have a personal ROI Tracker.

Serverless Level 2

Audience: Early/Mid Career
Length: 30-45 minutes, including Q&A
Appearances: AWS Anaheim Summit 2019
AWS Serverless Template

I will be going over the basics of a serverless microservice (API Gateway, Dynamo DB, Lambda). I will then take it to the next level to go over how to use it in a production environment, including provisioning your infrastructure as code, CI/CD and security.

How Coding is like Baking A Cake

Audience: All levels
Length: 3-10 mins lightning talk
AppearancesGirl Develop It Leadership Summit 2018, WordCamp LA 2018
SlidesGoogle Slides

This talk is about how I learned a better way to write code using my love of baking. Coding is putting the cake in the oven. Beforehand, you ascertain the goals (we want a chocolate cake!), discuss alternatives (what about cupcakes?) and whiteboard the tech (we’re going to use this recipe). That way, there are no surprises and everyone gets the cake they want.

Creating a Triple-A Team: Next Level Management

Audience: Mid-career, New management
Length: 15-30 minutes, including Q&A
MediaSimple Leadership Podcast

Many engineering teams struggle with hiring senior engineers, keeping them motivated and still maintaining a diverse and inclusive team. I will discuss a management success story where a team was able to hire only entry level developers, yet create some of the best employees in the company. It’s based on the three principles of Autonomy, Accountability and Advancement. It’s about teaching the developers how to strive for constant improvement, both on their own as a team. How to track their own skills and knowledge growth, and a standard metric for advancement so no one feels like they are stuck. By having clear goals for advancement it reduces the bias of “promoting your friends”. This creates a culture of efficiency, creativity and self-sufficiency that follows these team members throughout their time at the company.

Success Statements: How to Document Your ROI

Audience: All audiences
Length: 5 minute lightning talk

A success statement is a method of documenting your accomplishments so all stakeholders (especially non-technical ones) can quickly see your value and help get you bonuses/promotions.


Michelle is available for panels and excels in the following topics

Breaking Class Barriers

Audience: Early career. Experience with working, but trying to get first white collar job/promotion.
Length: 60 Minutes

Tech is trying to address its diversity problem, but one area you do not often hear about is class. Managers often do not think of their class bias. There are not “wrong” and “right” ways to act, but when one acts out of the accepted range for a class it can alarm a manager and peers. This is often coded as “not culture fit”, when it is a learned skill that can be taught. The goal of this panel is to give job/promotion seekers the tools to present themselves in the acceptable way. Hopefully these tips will help with code switching to ease people into their next job and help them communicate so their talents will shine.

Getting the job

Working at the job