This week, I published Brendan O'Leary's #DevJourney story on my eponym Podcast: Software developer's Journey. Among many other things, here are my main personal takeaways:

  • Brendan's story begins programming lights for a theater. It was not entirely software programming yet, but it had the logic and repetition idea already baked in.
  • Brendan first studied business, and came into the software business through the backdoor, helping a company build and run an engineering department. When Brendan spoke about the mission of the company, his passion for the domain and emotional attachment was still palpable. That's the reason why he remained at this company for almost 10 years.
  • Working on healthcare products shaped Brendan's understanding of Software Quality. "Especially in this field, the job of your users is to take care of the patients. Your software should enable this in the most meaningful ways and never stand in the way" he said.
  • Accessibility and UX are not two qualities I (Tim) would link with public (as in Government created) software. But as Brendan explained, the US government has stringent accessibility rules to suits their accessibility requirements.
  • Brendan moved to Gitlab after having been a Gitlab user/admin for a while. He read Gitlab's Handbook and this was the last reason he needed to apply. Brendan first started in the sales organization (which I find interesting given his business background), then moved toward the product division and finally logged in amongst the evangelists.
  • Brendan mentioned creating a video for Gitlab during the weekend just before Microsoft bought Github. He specifically mentioned asking his wife for 4 hours to do so. I love to hear that you don't have to give up on your life to work as such a successful company <3
  • When Brendan started Gitlab, he was worried that he would be missing social contact.
  • One of the most important public speaking advice that Brendan received was to tell stories. That's how people learn. And storytelling is THE most underrated skill.
  • It's interesting to see how business impacts the direction a tool takes. Gitlab started as the "other" Github. Then added CI/CD pipelines... what Github is now adding in form of Actions. Brendan's background in business is one skill a company needs to identify new needs and steer a product.
  • Open-Source communities hold us to higher standards, they help us stay true to our philosophy. This is also anchored in the guidebook of the company and the documentation.


  • Uphold true to the "Everyone can contribute" attitude


  • "You software should never be your user's job"
  • "BlackMirror Season 6 is an interactive story that we all live in 2020"
  • "On open-source, I hope that when devs can really collaborate on creating their tools, fantastic things will come out of it"

Thanks, Brendan for sharing your story with us!

You can find the full episode and the show notes on

Did you listen to his story?

  • What did you learn?
  • What are your personal takeaways?
  • What did you find particularly interesting?