The Rise of the Community Leader - Meet Tammy Bryant Butow

  • The Uncommon Team

    September 9th, 2021

Image of Tammy Bryant Butow,

Community leaders have a lot in common, like their enthusiasm for teaching and learning, and a passion for building meaningful relationships within and across communities. As community leaders, their goals are similar, but their paths to community leadership are surprisingly diverse and often surprisingly...surprising.

Our series, "The Rise of the Community Leader," celebrates these uncommon paths, the people who took them, and what they learned along the way. Want to connect with more community leaders like them? Join Uncommon.

Meet Tammy Bryant Butow, Principal Site Reliability Engineer at Gremlin.

How did you get your start in community?

While studying for my undergrad degree, the School of Computer Science hired me to run an in-person program to get girls interested in studying computer science at university. It was a great way to give back/pay it forward. When I graduated and got my first job as a software engineer, I went to a ton of meetups (my local Google developer group, Girl Geek dinners, etc.) and hackathons - I love hackathons! I then decided I wanted to create my own community, Girl Geek Academy, to run hackathons that more women would want to come to (I added yoga and amazing food... not just pizza and beer - it worked!). I did that with some friends and we ran the world's first all-women hackathon.

When I moved to the USA, I worked at DigitalOcean and got to do community work as part of my role. I went to hackathons, staffed the booth, built demos, wrote help docs and guides, and answered support tickets while being on the leadership team (I was leading the Platform team at the time). I really love working with developer communities in particular and it's something I've been doing in my spare time as a hobby and for work since 2005.

Tell us about the community you currently lead.

I'm currently focused on the Chaos Engineering community and mentor via my YouTube channel.

What’s a key piece of advice you wish you would have had when starting your community career?

"Have fun!" - I would always tell myself this, but nobody ever told me that. I think that's the most important thing. Just do what you think is fun and what the community finds fun. If folks aren't smiling, laughing and inviting their friends to join in, then make it more fun 🙂

Investment in community is growing. Where do you see it in 5-10 years?

I think we'll be more connected than in the past. When I first got involved in supporting communities and micro-communities, a lot of them were very underground and spread by word-of-mouth. Gen Z is just starting to graduate and join the workplace, and I'm really excited to see how they shake things up! 🙂 I think Gen Z is really going to change how communities evolve both online and offline.

What's your favorite part about working in community?

Helping people, having fun, and making new friends!

What's the coolest thing you've seen community achieve?

I love the little wins the most - seeing someone get a new job they really wanted in a field that is new for them, seeing someone get a promotion, seeing someone create something they didn't know how to until the community either supported them or helped them learn the skills they needed. For me I really think that's cool - seeing individual success.

I also love the TED Talk by Derek Sivers called “How to start a movement”.

We’re all about celebrating our community members and their accomplishments. Is there anyone in the community you’d like to appreciate?

Etel Sverdlov created the DigitalOcean community and she's just amazing and one of my best friends. Love you Etel! Check it out at digitalocean.com/community and follow her on Twitter!

What's different in community today from just a year or two ago?

We don't get to meet in person but there are a lot more activities happening to try and fill that gap (e.g. Twitch and live streaming). I'm a really big fan of video and it's exciting to see folks innovate in that space.

How do you see your role as a community manager evolving?

I'd love to meet more people and learn how I can be even more helpful.

And now some fun questions we ask our Roomies when they join the team 🙂

Favorite emoji?

❤️

Favorite Quote

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” - Proverb

If you had a food truck, what would you name it?

G'Day Mate

What's your inner animal?

🐬Dolphin

Favorite TV Show

Peaky Blinders

Next travel bucket list items to check off?

St Lucia

Thanks for sharing your story with us Tammy! And thank you for all you have done, and continue to do, to increase access and participation for women in tech 🙏

We're continually looking to highlight community leaders, voices, and stories—if there's someone you'd like to nominate to share theirs, let us know. See you in Uncommon!

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