My First Week at Pivotal

Ashley Willis (McNamara)
5 min readApr 17, 2017


I have a confession — I feel way out of my league and before you diagnose me with imposter syndrome, hear me out. Just think: If you came into a job knowing how to do everything perfectly, you’d simply come in, do your job, and leave — every day. There’d be nothing to push you to learn new skills, develop new competencies, or rise to new levels. You’d be good at your job. But you’d be bored. (I suspect I’ll never be bored here.)

The people on my team are incredible. Most of you will recognize their names because of their somewhat prolific community contributions. I work with people like Bridget Kromhout, Josh Long, Casey West, James Weaver, Kenny Bastani, and Michael Coté. That’s just part of the list, since I also get to work with people like James Watters, Joshua McKenty, Onsi Fakhouri, Zachary Gershman, Pieter Humphrey, and Matt Stine.

Working on this team is a dream and I instantly felt like part of the family. In our first team meeting we talked about quantum computing and I’m embarrassed by how much I had to google to keep up, but at the same time, I’m thankful because I have an opportunity to learn from these awesome folks.

At Pivotal, more than any other company I’ve worked for, I feel like a person rather than a cog.

I’ll start with what Pivotal does at a really high level — Pivotal’s mission is to transform how the world builds software and they mean business. Pivotal is responsible for some of the most popular open source projects in use today, including Pivotal Tracker, Spring, RabbitMQ, and Cloud Foundry and they employ some of the best and brightest in the industry.

Now a little backstory…

I started seeking new opportunities just a few weeks ago and was fortunate enough to have some really amazing companies reach out (I considered listing them here, which felt pretentious, so if you’re curious, send me a message) but Zachary Gershman who works as a Go developer at Pivotal was the one that snagged me. Pivotal wasn’t even top of mind for me, because remember, they’re out of my league so I kind of brushed it off. But, I felt compelled to tweet something snarky to James Watters about hiring new advocates, because when in doubt you go with snark. That turned into a DM exchange and then into a scheduled interview with Andrew Clay Shafer — from the moment I got off of the phone with Shafer I knew that I needed to work at Pivotal and not just at Pivotal, but on his team specifically — Shafer hired me because he saw potential in me combined with a willingness to learn, and that’s not something I take lightly.

Today marks my first full week as a Pivotal employee and I couldn’t be more thrilled. On-boarding was a breeze — The week prior I had a meeting with my boss to set expectations and on my first day, I just got online and logged into all of the things. That’s all. I didn’t have to go anywhere for training or to any kind of office. I get an on-boarding issue in Pivotal Tracker that gave me some tasks that must be done. Everything is done via the internet, which is definitely a different experience, but I really enjoyed having the opportunity to explore on my own and at my own pace.

What are some of the cool things I got to do in my first week?

I’ve spent time:

  • Getting to know my co-workers
  • Learning the company and team goals
  • Defining my work objectives and goals for the year
  • Identifying action items to own as part of the team
  • Raising awareness of my new role at Pivotal within my network
  • Getting access to the tools I need to use
  • Reading documentation, release notes and roadmaps
  • Connecting with other developer evangelists in Austin
  • Identifying conferences and events to attend
  • Getting to know the other team’s objectives and goals
  • Competitive analysis of the market space
  • Appearing on GoTime podcast

This was just the end of my first week, but there’s so much more ahead. I have scheduled meetings with various people on my team so we can get to know each other and I can learn more about what I’ll be working on.

Now you’re probably wondering, what I do at Pivotal?

I am a Principal Technologist, which is the coolest title ever. Essentially, I act as a bridge between third party developers and Pivotal, driving platform adoption through the developer community and driving change into products based on real world customer/developer feedback. I also help with developer support, building applications that consume our services, teaching workshops, hackathons, and any other opportunities to interact with developers to understand their needs. Basically, I deliver solutions and my focus will be on Go and the Go community, which, as many of you know is near and dear to my heart.

Pivotal uses Go in a number of projects, like Ginkgo, Gomega, and Agouti. Then you’ve got the interesting projects from the Cloud Foundry side like container scheduling/ lifecycle management in terms of Diego and let’s not forget Concourse, which is their own CD tool (with support for modern pipelining).

Now you’re probably saying, I thought Pivotal/Cloud Foundry was a Ruby/Rails shop? And you’re right, Pivotal’s expertise didn’t start out with Go and most of Cloud Foundry was Ruby — Since then Cloud Foundry has transitioned most of their projects and built a wealth of Go knowledge in the process.

Many teams/engineers use Go almost like a scripting language. They write a lot of small tools/light CLIs to do things that they might have once done in Ruby or bash — This is especially handy when you want to be able to, say, write a little diagnostic test on macOS and then run it in an arbitrary Linux container without futzing with dependencies or worrying about bash mysteries.

The real takeaway here is that they have a ton of really passionate Gophers at Pivotal that are doing all sorts of interesting things, interesting things I intend to share with all of you.

As sad as I was to leave my coworkers at Rackspace, I am really excited about this opportunity at Pivotal. What better way to break in my Medium account than to start with a new chapter in my career?

Wanna chat more? Catch me at Dockercon this week!