8 Python Conferences to Attend in 2021 to Become a Better CTO

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8 Python Conferences to Attend in 2021 to Become a Better CTO
Table of Contents
  • What can you learn from CTO conferences?
  • Tips for getting the most out of Python conferences for CTOs
    • 1. Apply to speak
    • 2. Sponsor the event or grab a booth
    • 3. Download the conference app
    • 4. Make the most of the keynote speakers
    • 5. Join a hackathon or development sprint
    • 6. Network at the job fair or exhibition
  • 8 must-attend Python conferences in 2021
    • 1. PyCascades
    • 2. PyCon US
    • 3. DjangoCon Europe
    • 4. SciPy
    • 5. EuroPython
    • 6. PyCon UK
    • 7. PyCon DE & PyData
    • 8. Plone Conference
    • 9. Honorable Mention: STX Next Tech Power Summit
  • Final thoughts
  • Your feedback

February 16, 2021: freshly updated for 2021!

The position of a CTO comes with a number of expectations and responsibilities.

You need to increase your knowledge and diversify your network. Updating your tech stack or scaling your development team might be in order at any given moment.

Representing your company’s technical vision by engaging in speaking opportunities, conferences, and media activities may also fall within your purview.

Lastly, hiring and retaining engineering talent is part of your job description, as well. It is one of the biggest challenges tech startups and established players face at the moment. Since the job market strongly favors talented developers, finding venues for CTOs to gain face time with prospective employees is becoming increasingly important.

So, how do you go about accomplishing these goals?

Well, one great way to do that is to attend technology conferences focused on your tech stack of choice. The foundation of tech stack at the center of this article is Python.

Even now, when the possibilities of traveling and meeting in person are fewer, there are still many opportunities to enhance your talent scouting and to stay  up-to-date. Most of the tech conferences moved online. Now, regardless of where you’re based, you can attend each event we mention on our list!

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What can you learn from CTO conferences?

The 8 conferences featured here can help address some of the biggest concerns keeping engaged CTOs up at night, such as:

  • making technology decisions;
  • managing innovation;
  • keeping abreast of emerging technologies or frameworks;
  • improving coding skills, especially if you’re a startup CTO;
  • managing the engineering team mix.

Tips for getting the most out of Python conferences for CTOs

Here are a few suggestions you can use to get the most out of attending the conferences:

1. Apply to speak

This cannot be overstated. These events provide a great platform to share your ideas and stories. Moreover, it’s an opportunity to showcase a particular project with other developers, invite debate, and build connections.

For more information on the subject, we recommend you use the PyCon US page as a point of reference.

2. Sponsor the event or grab a booth

Depending on your recruitment needs, this gives you a chance to meet potential developers face to face. It does involve bringing some extra team members, but the costs may well be justified. PyCascades has a page discussing the benefits of such an approach.

3. Download the conference app

Use the app in advance to craft your profile and schedule meetings. Now, when most of the conferences moved online, it's also a great way to connect with the other participants and have a fuller conference experience.

4. Make the most of the keynote speakers

Learn from other people who are driving innovation. Don’t shy away from engaging in the Q&A to press the speakers on key points you are interested in.

These days with almost all events happening online, it can be easier to find interesting presentations. And it may be less intimidating to ask questions afterwards.

5. Join a hackathon or development sprint

For the hands-on CTO, this is a great way to contribute to an open-source project or even introduce one of your own.

6. Network at the job fair or exhibition

Even without a booth, this can be the best tactic to reach talented developers. Check out the PyCon Jobs Fair from 2019 to understand how this is organized.

This year most of the networking will happen online and even if you are not a huge enthusiast of online meetings, you might be surprised with what some events have to offer. 

8 must-attend Python conferences in 2021

Python.org does a wonderful job of listing the top Python conferences globally. However, wading through the list can be cumbersome and some noteworthy regional events are left out.

With that in mind, we have selected and listed below some of the essential Python conferences that any CTO or Engineering Manager should consider attending in 2021.

The conferences are ordered by proximity to the actual date of the event. If you’re last minute, start from the top.

1. PyCascades

PyCascades

  • Location: virtual

  • Date: February 19–21, 2021

  • Highlight: This year, they’ll hold a session on how COVID-19 changed core Python development

  • Website: https://2021.pycascades.com
What to expect

Like most conferences, PyCascades will be happening online this year. It’s great news for those who’d like to participate, as the event is starting in just a few days.

In this online edition, the program is full of interesting presentations, for example a talk on open source Machine Learning for Spacecraft operations, or an event on how the COVID-19 outbreak changed the Python communities around the world.

Fun fact

PyCascades is at the forefront of diversity and inclusion. Per the statement on their website, they are committed to follow the Python Software Foundation’s diversity statement:

“Our community is based on mutual respect, tolerance, and encouragement, and we are working to help each other live up to these principles. We want our community to be more diverse: whoever you are, and whatever your background, we welcome you.”

Those statements are supported by actions. PyCascades provides visa invitation letters for accepted speakers and offers grants for those whose budget would prevent them from attending the conference (it also covers childcare expenses during the event).

For more information, head over to the PyCascades subpage.

2. PyCon US

PyCon US

  • Location: virtual
  • Date: May 12–20, 2021 
  • Highlight: the original PyCon and the catalyst for other similar conferences globally.
  • Website: https://us.pycon.org/2021/
What to expect

The agenda for the 2021 edition is still being finalized. Organizers promise that the conference, as usual, will be full of networking opportunities, dedicated time with sponsors, and social events.

Despite that fact that the conference is happening online, the organizers have many ideas on how to involve the participants in non-typical activities. For example, they will organize a 5k run and an online auction with proceeds supporting the PyLadies community.

Fun fact

For Spanish-speaking CTOs, some time ago PyCon introduced a track entirely in Spanish called PyCon Charlas. “Charlas” is a Spanish word, meaning “conference talks.”

It was a very welcome addition, since around 12% of the U.S. population speaks Spanish. Genial!

3. DjangoCon Europe

DjangoCon Europe

  • Location: hybrid (virtual and onsite in Porto, Portugal)
  • Date: June 2–6, 2021
  • Highlight: Last year, the conference moved online and it was a huge success. It had more than 800 registrants from 5 different continents!
  • Website: https://2021.djangocon.eu/
What to expect

DjangoCon focuses on Django—Python’s “web framework for perfectionists with deadlines.”

By a wide margin, Django is the most popular web framework used in Python. You can learn more about Python web frameworks here.

DjangoCon Europe 2021 will be held in a hybrid way, both online and onsite in Porto.

Fun fact

DjangoCon Europe offers a grant program that “prioritizes speakers first, and then anyone who is part of an under-represented or marginalized group.”

For example, last year, they offered 500 free registrations. 

4. SciPy

SciPy

What to expect

The program consists of 5 days of tutorials and talks, and 2 days of sprints. Not much detail has been announced so far, however some of the topics that appear in the lineup sound really promising!

Fun fact

For community-building, SciPy introduced Birds-of-a-Feather (BoFs) sessions. This event includes a short presentation by a panel and a moderator opening up the discussion to everyone in attendance. BoF topics can be of general interest or based on the themes of the conference. If you want to participate, submit the topic before the end of May 2021!

5. EuroPython

EuroPython

  • Location: virtual
  • Date: July 26–August 1, 2021
  • Highlight: Although this year’s conference is going to happen remotely, the organizers aim to promote EuroPython Nodes, where small groups can meet in person and join the conference together. 
  • Website: https://ep2021.europython.eu/
What to expect

Like last year, EuroPython will be held online, although compared to the 2020 edition, it will be denser with events. The organizers hope that this way you’ll feel like you are taking part in a regular event. 

The 1st EuroPython actually predates the 1st PyCon by a year. The original event brought together a small group of 240 attendees. Now, the number of participants is close to 1,200 every year.

The 7-day event is broken up into the following days:

  • two workshop/training days (July 26–27)
  • three conference days (July 28–30)
  • two sprint days (July 31–August 1)
Fun fact

If you haven’t had a chance to attend EuroPython before and you wonder how it looks, you can watch all of the previous video materials on archive.org.

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6. PyCon UK

PyCon UK

What to expect

In 2020, the conference was canceled due to the pandemic and postponed to October 2021. The hopes are that by that time the UK will be back to “business as usual.”

I attended PyCon UK back in 2016. While the travel plan from Poland wasn’t ideal—a flight to London, followed by a train to Cardiff—the event was worth the trip.

The 5-day conference attracts 500+ attendees, mainly focused on the UK. Over those days, attendees can join keynote presentations, talks and panels, as well as lightning talks and sprints.

As is the case with all conferences on this list, PyCon UK offers an option for companies to sponsor a booth and pair their conference efforts with recruitment.

Since 2016, a PyCon UK Slack is created every year for the purposes of putting together meetups and events with other conference attendees.

The social channel provides networking opportunities for those unable to stick around over the entire 5-day session.

Fun fact

Apart from the typical convention panels, PyCon UK 2019 hosted a few additional activities that they proudly announced at the top of their website.

In cooperation with Django Girls, the organizers threw a one-day free Python course for beginners. Raspberry Pi Foundation and CoderDojo curated a Children’s Day initiative to teach the basics of coding to the youngest attendees.

And in the evening, the participants could try their luck in board games and… manual crafts. Knitting a scarf at a Python conference? Only in the UK.

7. PyCon DE & PyData

PyCon DE & PyData

  • Location: onsite in Berlin, Germany
  • Date: to be announced
  • Highlight: 1,000+ “Pythonistas” over the course of the 5-day event
  • Website: https://de.pycon.org/
What to expect

Two years ago, two major Python conferences teamed up: PyCon DE and PyData. This year, the cooperation will continue.

Last year the event was cancelled.There’s still not that much information about the program of this year’s edition, but it’s planned as an in-person event.

In 2019, the conference offered over 100 sessions dedicated to PyData topics such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and ethics, as well as Python topics like programming, DevOps, or Django. I’m sure we can expect a program just as rich this year.

Fun fact

By the end of 2019, all the conference videos were released on YouTube.

8. Plone Conference

Plone Conference

  • Location: onsite in Namur, Belgium
  • Date: to be announced
  • Highlight: seeing as it’s a conference dedicated to Plone, I doubt I need to say anything more if you’re a fan
  • Website: https://2020.ploneconf.org/
What to expect

For those unfamiliar with this small, passionate community of 200+ core developers and 800 contributors, Plone is a content management system (CMS) geared toward users of varying technical skill levels. Organizations such as NASA, eBay, and the FBI have used Plone for both public-facing and internal websites.

Some developers I work with may take exception to Plone making this list, since it’s considered to be outdated and increasingly redundant in certain circles. However, there is no denying that the CMS has a devout following, meeting up annually to discuss recent developments.

Fun fact

While the annual meetup focuses on Plone, conference track themes are quite diverse and may appeal to the larger Python community. In the past the topics included “not just Plone, but also related technologies such as Volto, Guillotina, React, Angular. And of course topics such as accessibility, user experience, documentation, continuous integration, community organizing and others.”

9. Honorable Mention: STX Next Tech Power Summit

STX Next Tech Power Summit

  • Location: onsite in Poznań, Poland
  • Date: to be announced
  • Logo: to be updated
  • Highlight: Python discussions alongside broader talks focused on AI, React Native, cloud technologies, Agile, and more
What to expect

STX Next holds its very own Python conference, called the Tech Power Summit. 

Aside from the traditional Python talks, our top specialists will be discussing the latest trends in software development, including AI, React Native, cloud technologies, Agile, and more.

Stay tuned for the full agenda of the Summit! In the meantime, you can check out how it looked in 2019 (or watch the talks on our YouTube channel as well).

Fun fact

While the event is invite-only, we are discussing opening up the 2021 edition of the summit to the broader Python community. Check back here soon for updates!

Final thoughts

Being a CTO means you’re obviously extremely busy. You can’t afford to attend every great Python conference out there, even if you wanted to. There’s a lot of work to be done, like updating your app, contributing to an investor’s pitch, or opening recruitment to expand your team.

That’s why if you only have time for 1 or 2 Python conferences in 2020, I strongly recommend PyCon US and/or EuroPython.

While there is a wide range of amazing Python conferences to choose from—some of which we’ve probably omitted—both PyCon US and EuroPython offer just the right combination of engaging discussions on emerging technologies and stimulating prospects of expanding your engineering team mix.

Pick either, and I promise you’ll get your money’s worth. However, with that said, now that so many events are happening online, it's not impossible to fit a few extra events on your calendar!

Your feedback

Thanks for taking the time to read through the list.

Do you agree with our selection? Think we’re missing a critical piece of information about the conferences listed? Know of another Python conference that should have made the list, but didn’t?

Go ahead and leave us a comment. We’ll verify your suggestions and include them in our next update of the post, if we decide they could be of interest to CTOs.

We also have handy lists of must-read books and essential blogs for CTOs, should you prefer to hone your capabilities from the comforts of your home, rather than go to conferences.

And if you’d like to learn more about the most important issues for CTOs right now, check out the report from our 2020 Global CTO Survey!

Read insights from 250 CTOs

Read the report
Read the report

Read insights from 250 CTOs

Read the report
Read the report
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