Cassandra Faris

Information & Communications Technology

Professional Networking Personal Branding Social Media Hiring Interviewing Employee Engagement Career Growth Recruiting Mental Health Employee Happiness Communication People Management Soft Skills Agile Mindset Agile Leadership

Columbus, Ohio, United States

Cassandra Faris

Community Manager at SaltStack

Cassandra Faris is passionate about the human side of technology. She is the Community Manager at SaltStack, an event-driven security, cloud, and configuration management software company. Her career has focused on supporting tech professionals through training, community outreach, marketing, hiring, mentoring, and employee engagement. She is an international speaker who specializes in teaching people how to communicate, be more effective team members, and advance their careers. She is President of the Stir Scholarship for women pursuing technology degrees and President Emeritus of the DogFoodCon tech conference. She has an MBA in Organizational Leadership. When she's not busy with the tech community, she is an avid tabletop gamer, runner, and soccer fan who travels as much as possible.


I'm an international speaker who specializes in teaching professional skills to technical audiences.

Current sessions

Failing Successfully

Failure is normal. It’s so normal that many software development teams encourage people to fail and fail fast. Failure is also scary. It makes us feel vulnerable. Yet we hear countless stories of people turning failure into success in seemingly magical ways. This session will teach you what’s behind that magic. You’ll discover how to help yourself and others fail successfully. You’ll learn how to reflect on failures and apply those reflections in the future. Because success is hard to see in the midst of failure, we’ll also discuss techniques for surviving the challenging times. With this knowledge, you can use your failures as the building blocks of your own seemingly magical successes.


Emoji & Visual Communication

From cave paintings to modern photos, humans have always used pictures to communicate. Today we often communicate via text rather than verbally. This can make it hard to express emotion, tone, and nuance. Emoji, GIFs, and other visuals can help! But it’s tricky to know whether visual forms of communication are appropriate. This session will examine when and how to use them. We’ll discuss their application in professional settings. We’ll cover the challenges of relying on visual communication. Along the way, we’ll learn how ASCII art and smileys evolved into emoji and how they're changing. If you’ve ever wondered why it took so long to get a taco emoji or whether to send your coworker a silly dog GIF, this session is for you.


Career Growth Questions You're Afraid to Ask

There are so many job opportunities out there for technical professionals. Some even sound like super exciting things you’d like to do! How do you know if they’re actually right for you? Even if you’re not actively seeking a job, this is an important question that we all need to answer. Drawing on real-life examples, this session will walk you through the career change and opportunity evaluation process. It will cover topics including benefits questions, intellectual property concerns, and assessing company culture. Most importantly, it will help you identify your career growth priorities and whether that seemingly shiny new opportunity meets them.


Health: The Most Important Tech Tool

Working in the tech industry often involves spending long hours sitting down, staring at a screen, consuming copious amounts of pizza and caffeine. The work is mentally demanding and can be stressful. In the rush to get everything done, it can be easy to neglect our health. But a healthy body and mind are necessary for effective performance. Based on HR training, research, and personal experience, this session provides realistic suggestions for managing your well-being at work. It covers the connection between physical and mental health, as well as how to discuss these topics with your employer. You’ll leave with a better idea of how to take care of yourself and be a happier, healthier, more productive person.


Purposeful Personal Branding

If you have an online presence, you have a personal brand. Most of us didn't intend to create a brand when we made our first websites and social media profiles. They were just fun ways to share our lives meet people. Now, they're networking and career growth tools. In this talk, you'll hear about people whose brands helped them become respected developers, managers, and community leaders. You'll learn how to use your online presence to advance your career. You'll also pick up best practices, common mistakes, and tips for balancing professional and personal content. Intentional personal branding opens the door to endless opportunities. Come see how to make that happen!


Becoming an Effective Interviewer

Interviewing is stressful when you're looking for a job. It's also stressful when (surprise!) you're suddenly the interviewer. You want good team members, but how do you identify them? This talk distills lessons learned from recruiting and managing development teams. It covers the technical and non-technical considerations of identifying your team's needs and finding the people that fit them. By applying this framework to your own team, you'll be prepared to ask the right questions and know whether candidates will fit your team today and in the future.


Building an Effective Interview Framework

Growing your team is about more than just hiring the people with the strongest technical skills. The interview process is about making sure the people that join your team fit into the larger picture. In this workshop, you will learn how to identify the needs of your specific team. Through hands-on exercises and guided discussions, you will create a unique interviewing framework that considers your team’s technical and non-technical needs. This framework will compare those needs with the strengths and weaknesses of potential team members. Then, you will apply your framework to common scenarios to help make more informed and effective interviewing decisions. Finally, we will discuss how to take this framework back into the real world.


Charting a Course to Your Dream Job

As a technology professional, your career path can and probably will take many directions. The challenge is determining which directions are right for you. Are you no longer learning or growing at work? Do you want to change jobs but don’t know where to start? Do you feel stuck on a narrowly-defined path that doesn’t excite you? Whether you're just starting out or are the most experienced person on your team, this workshop will help you determine what's next in your career.

Through a series of guided exercises and discussions, you’ll examine your technical and professional strengths, preferences, and dislikes. You’ll reflect on your values and how they apply to your career. Along the way, discover how to do more of what you enjoy at your current job. Finally, you will learn about finding new opportunities with your employer or whether to seek something entirely new. Though you may not leave knowing exactly what you want to be when you grow up, you will leave with a clear plan for getting closer to that dream job.


Get Out of Your Lane!

In the tech industry, we often think our jobs have narrowly defined skillsets. We believe that staying in our lanes, gaining more years of experience, and learning new technical skills yields automatic career growth. This is a mistake! For continual career growth, we must also venture into the worlds of business and communication. This talk will explain why these worlds matter to your career. You'll discover how to gain and apply this knowledge at work even if it's not part of your job. You'll also learn how leveraging the tech community enhances your business and communication skills alongside your technical skills. This session will leave you challenged to go beyond your job description and drive your career forward.


Business & Tech: A Communication Guide

Development teams and business decision makers frequently conflict. Business people don’t always understand that without software, their companies wouldn’t make money. Developers don’t always realize that solving a problem requires more than the latest framework. Each group has different priorities. This session is designed to help technical teams reconcile those priorities. You will learn to identify the values you share with the business and how to communicate with those shared values in mind. You’ll also learn how to apply different communication styles when discussing technical solutions with the business. By finding a shared set of values and a shared language, you’ll create solutions that have business and technology working in harmony.

The presentation will have an overview of the communication problems teams often face. Then, we'll talk about different communication styles using the DISC assessment, give some practical tips for building rapport, and having conversations once those things have been discovered. There will be interactive components to the talk in the form of brief discussions and exercises.


Repairing the Broken Technical Interview

We often talk about tech interviews and how they’re a broken system. But why do we keep using them in the industry? How do we fix them? What are we missing by not making technical interviews better?

This workshop is designed to think through our interview processes. We’ll talk about the information an interview should give you and how hiring decisions impact your team. We’ll think through the parts that work and the parts that don’t. After some discussion, we’ll talk about the good ways to interview (and why), and what we can do to make your company’s interviews better. You will collaborate, share, and practice interviewing techniques. You’ll leave with better interviewing skills to take back to your team and make more effective hires.

This workshop will be co-presented with a software developer. Drawing on our experiences, we’ll help people understand how and why they’re interviewing and give them chances to improve their interviewing skills as they add new members to their teams.


It's OK to Talk to Strangers

Tired of job boards and recruiter spam? There’s a better way to manage your career growth. Networking is something that doesn’t come naturally to many people, but it’s a tool that every tech professional should have in their tool belt. In this talk, you’ll learn tips for growing your professional network online and offline. You’ll also learn strategies for intentionally fostering relationships. A good network means fewer strangers, more free lunches, and a better path to finding your next opportunity.