DevOps Institute

[EP40] Community Is The New Business with Dheeraj Nayal


On this episode of the Humans of DevOps, Jason Baum is joined by Dheeraj Nayal (@HumanOfDevOps), Global Community Ambassador at DevOps Institute. They discuss the importance of communities, enterprise communities, Dheeraj’s human hobbies and more!

The lightly edited transcript can be found below.

Narrator 00:02
You’re listening to the humans of DevOps podcast, a podcast focused on advancing the humans of DevOps through skills, knowledge, ideas and learning, or the SKIL framework.

Dheeraj Nayal 00:16
Or together the communities becomes a singularity from both sides. And the thing that really matters because then the enterprise tend to see their go to market approaches change to go to community. And then we have the community also sees the value from the enterprises.

Jason Baum 00:34
Hey, everyone, it’s Jason Baum, Director of membership at DevOps Institute. And this is the Humans of DevOps podcast. I am so excited today to be chatting with Dheeraj. Now, y’all Dheeraj is currently the global community ambassador, along with region head for APAC and Middle East region at the DevOps Institute. Dheeraj is based in Delhi, India, and is currently a certified member of leaders excellence with the distinguished membership title ml he member of leaders excellence, he’s a certified business relationship management professional holds multiple credentials as a certified DevOps leader, certified site, reliability engineer, and DevOps professional. He has an MBA in engineering and computer science. And he’s also the first official announced DevOps Institute ambassador. So that’s pretty cool. Dheeraj has built sustainable strategic partnership with Fortune 5000 enterprises globally, and has built massive online social global tech communities while evangelizing and launching several global initiatives with 1000s of members, industry leaders, partners and practitioners. Dheeraj It is a pleasure to have you on the podcast this morning.

Dheeraj Nayal 01:46
Thank you, Jason, thank you for such a wonderful bio. I think I never heard such an amazing bio being described ever before. So

Jason Baum 01:56
I you know, I try my best. It’s like, it’s like it was handed to me. Well, they’re harsh. It is a pleasure to have you on you have done so much. And I had no idea that you are the very first DOI ambassador. So that’s, that’s pretty cool.

Dheeraj Nayal 02:13
Absolutely, Jason. And it has been a pleasure to be the first-ever ambassador from DevOps Institute, but also to work with the community, which has evolved with DevOps Institute over the years. So I think I was fortunate enough, I was privileged enough to also work with the various community members, not just from the APAC, or Middle East and Africa region perspective, but also from the global perspective, and also working with the cohorts of ambassadors, who has been really influential, as well as the catalysts and advancing the human elements of DevOps globally.

Jason Baum 02:49
And we’re gonna talk a lot about communities. I’m sure that’s something that’s passionate to me, and I know you’re passionate about it. So we’ll, we’ll definitely spend some time talking about communities. But as we always do, I would love to just start by getting to know you a little bit. I think that that bio, pretty much covered everything. So I don’t know, maybe we could just all go home now. But I would love to get to know you. How did you get to where you are today? It sounds like you kind of always knew what you wanted with an MBA and engineering and computer science. But take it away, let it tell us a little bit about you take us on your journey.

Dheeraj Nayal 03:24
Thanks, Jason. So definitely, I mean, since the passion around the information technology field started during my engineering days, and then I thought of extending it to more from the management perspective. And that’s where immediately after the engineering, the MBA in international marketing happened, and then for the initial one year, I was just working on the ground getting to know everything from the IT services perspective, and more or less absorbing everything. So as they say, initially, you have to be a sponge and illuminate and reflect everything you are learning in the best manner possible. And then I think around a decade since I have been working in this field, I have been just focusing on developing a strategic relationship with the enterprises along with the community development, along with making sure that’s what has been our mission as well. Those new skills, new knowledge, and new ideas, innovation learning are being access, not just for the enterprises, but I think to the wider community as part of not just it as a field, but I think the overall learning extends beyond in various verticals as well. So that’s where the passion has definitely started building more about engaging more with the community, learning from the community, giving it back to the community and that’s where the additional role about the local community investors always becomes more as part of my larger passion area. Because we organize various meetups attend to speak at various events, I also engage with these thought leaders, so that everything which is being conceptualized is also being rendered to everyone who is part of the network. So, as I said, privileged enough to be associated with DevOps Institute, and also helping out all of our members located worldwide, alongside of our education partners in the region, as well as various enterprise members who are seeking these new skills, guidance around the new innovations and the technology trends, which we keep on providing to our various initiatives.

Jason Baum 05:51
So in with the background, like you have, you know, computer science engineering, evangelizing, you’ve kind of done it all within the space. I know your speaker, you touched on that, obviously, the community building as a kid, were you interested in engineering? Is that what you wanted to go into as a field later in life? Like, some people are like, I want to be a firefighter, I want to be a police officer did were you like taking apart computers and putting them back together?

Dheeraj Nayal 06:23
Yes, it’s quite interesting, because professionally, and personally, there is quite a contrast with respect to the personalities. And what I mean to say is, personally, I’m quite a reserved person. But as part of my job role, and this is what I learned during my MBA is, when you get into a sales and marketing role, yes, you have to be more extrovert, you have to be more open, you have to be more welcoming, in terms of engaging with the clients in terms of engaging with your partners. So I kind of took it as a challenge to see if this role is something that is meant for me or is this something which I will not be able to do it because I am a completely closed or reserved person. And that’s where I think the taps Park came in, of not just getting into this field, but also making sure to learn on every step, making sure to try towards excellence overall, even though it’s a long journey. But I think that challenge definitely sparked internally to keep on learning keep on persevering towards this path. And fortunate enough to me to have met various thought leaders, various mentors, various bosses sports in the past, as well as the existing one who have been supportive enough with respect to advance my own learning journey, because I think everyone here is a learner, and in each and every step, and in each and every milestone, we tend to meet all of our mentors, seniors, friends and colleagues, who tend to contribute in many and multiple ways. So that is where I think the overall challenge now became more like a passion area for me, and I love doing what I’m doing, both in the past as well as in the current role as well. And I think now, personally, still, I’m a reserved person, but I think I love to chat with people. And that’s why I’m here with a podcast with you. having these conversations, love to know more about people and see as a larger purpose in life, how can I help? So always with respect to for members or partners? So that’s the opening statement, I tend to share that how can I help, and even if I can help a bit, I think then the purpose is definitely coming to the larger goal or near goal, which I have set personally for myself.

Jason Baum 09:00
You touched on something and I love everything that you just said. But you touch on something that is near and dear to me because it’s a topic that I’ve I’ve definitely discussed with people and it’s, it’s I think it’s part of our core who we are people described by introvert or extrovert and it can sometimes shape what you do in life. And unfortunately, I think most of the time it’s a label. I don’t really necessarily totally believe in introvert-extrovert like I like to refer to myself as a reluctant extrovert because I forced myself to be more of an extrovert when at times I would like to do nothing more than not talk to anybody. But then when I get going, I can’t stop and I love to talk to people. So it’s a very strange dynamic. And I think we all have a little bit of that in us the part that wants to run away and not talk to anybody, and just leave me alone. And then the part that’s like, you know what? Once you get going, all right, I could do this. And when people hear community, when people hear networking, I actually talked about this at one of the scale of days. You know, when people hear those words, it’s like, they become a little frightened. A piece of them doesn’t want to do it. But it’s actually one of the most important things that you could possibly do. Everyone talks about it in your career, most people don’t get a job because they applied to it, they get a job because they know someone, because they have a relationship with someone, and that person recommended them or brought them in. And so we all need to do it. So the community aspect and the fact that you’re a community builder, but you refer to yourself as like an introvert is fantastic. I love that.

Dheeraj Nayal 10:48
Absolutely, Jason, and I think you mentioned it correctly about the phase, when you just want to be at peace, do not want to engage, not want to talk, I call it as our zombie phase. Because at that phase, we just want to be like a zombie not doing anything,

Jason Baum 11:03
I love that I’m stealing it.

Dheeraj Nayal 11:06
laying around and having all the time for ourselves. And I think in this, I mean, the fast-moving world, everyone is just busy in their own role, either making pitches, either doing marketing, either positioning, so lots of stuff are happening from the personal perspective, or professional perspective, as well. And I think down the line since everything is moving at such a fast pace, sometimes that human element kept on missing. And that’s the link, I think we need to nurture together as part of the larger community. So even if we are coming in communicating with an introvert or extrovert, if we are talking more humanely, rather than as a role, or as a product or a service, I think it makes not just job easier, but also it makes it really helpful, really affectionate to whomsoever you are interacting to.

Jason Baum 12:03
That’s what I think has fascinated me so far with my journey of learning DevOps, because that’s what I’ve been on kind of the rush journey, the accelerated journey, but it’s been great. And doing these podcasts and speaking to, you know, the brightest minds in the DevOps community has been a great education for me. And I had no idea that something like this in the tech world existed, the marrying of the human element with the tech element. I always knew you guys were funny, you guys have a great sense of humor. Everyone in tech, but I had no idea that there was this, deeper philosophic, philosophical level of, of the tech industry that wants to marry the human elements to the, to the tech side of it. It’s kind of a beautiful thing.

Dheeraj Nayal 12:58
Absolutely. And I think there is also a funny story, which I would like to share as part of this conversation because I think definitely DevOps is a philosophy dilemma or technological moment, but at the same time, so I hail from Delhi, in India. And here, as you know, that we worship a lot of gods and goddesses. And funny enough, that the God in the translation, which is Hindi is a regional language in India. And the God Hindi Translation comes as Dave. So it’s like D, the DevOps, you see the spelling, which is comes across, and I was at the conference, engaging with our network and peers. And then there was a separate cab driver who was supposed to take me back to my hotel, and he just read like DevOps Institute. So that was a tagline. And he read that tagline. And C said that, are you doing something related to our God, because death means the God in Hindi. So that was I think, was really fascinating. As well as funny, but at the same time, I think it also touches upon the philosophy, fickle and technological moment, which spans across multiple regions and multiple domains as part of the larger IT group.

Jason Baum 14:24
There’s nothing worse than engaging with a cab driver over religious philosophy and religious conversation. I’ve got those by the way I was once given diagnosis Dianetics by a cab driver.

Dheeraj Nayal 14:41
Right? Yeah. Those conversations because they kind of bring in different perspective as well. Something which you might have not come across. So those are definitely intriguing conversations.

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Jason Baum 15:29
So tell us now let’s go back to you a little bit. And, and we can come back to community because I know community is a passionate topic. What do you like to do as a hobby? What do you do when you’re not? You know, getting your MBA speaking everywhere building communities for Fortune 5000s? What do you do with all that free time that you have?

Dheeraj Nayal 15:54
So like I said, I love that those zombie phases in which I can just do binge-watching. That means watching movies. Love Christopher Norton movies of Martin Scorsese movies, so lots of movies, which has been on my watching lists in the past as well. And then other than that, love traveling, which is of course has been restricted because of the pandemic. But yeah, love traveling, love,

Jason Baum 16:24
it love to go.

Dheeraj Nayal 16:26
So, I mean, primarily for me, I mean, India is the country, which definitely have a lot of diversity. So that’s why for me, it’s also about exploring what it has been there in other regions of the world as well because they are the culture the overall aspects, the overall, which we call as part of the community engagement is a completely new form to learn and absorb as well. So that’s where I tend to love everywhere, where it takes me to a completely new word, if not entirely different, but I think more or less aligned with something new to learn as part of my own personal adventures. So certainly love more of the rural places as compared to the urban cities because then again, it’s all those fast-moving worlds, which comes as part of the urban on metro cities, but I think we are still pretty much occupied and not able to spend much time with the nature itself. So I think love going to the countryside, spending time in either in short trade in the Himilayas. So yeah, that’s what has been as part of my hobbies. During my free time.

Jason Baum 17:47
You are the second person I’ve had on this podcast who talked about hiking in the Himalayas? I did I did not realize we had this type of audience, which is it’s so cool. What’s your favorite country that you’ve been to?

Dheeraj Nayal 18:00
New Zealand?

Jason Baum 18:01
New Zealand? Yes. Awesome.

Dheeraj Nayal 18:04
I mean, it’s a beautiful place. And I think you must have seen the Lord of the Rings, hobbits. movie covers everything around New Zealand. So I think they have beautiful landscape. And again, very close to nature. So kind of my favorite places. So yeah, definitely recommend if

Jason Baum 18:22
you have now seen digit Did you see a hobbit while you were in New Zealand?

Dheeraj Nayal 18:25
No. So I was in fact, in the other city. So this was part of the professional engagement. So didn’t have much time. But maybe next time, so hopefully, quite soon.

Jason Baum 18:38
I got over to Australia years ago, I never got to go to New Zealand. It was one of our, our regrets my wife and I, we did Fiji Australia, and then we went home and it’s like, ah, you know, that was a really, really long flight to not have seen New Zealand too. And so I think it’s on our list to go back. Someday, we’ll see. Let’s go back a little bit and talk about communities again. And just kind of get into, you know, I, everybody defines community differently. And what is a community? And who are you talking about when you’re talking about community? So I’d love to just get your sense of when you talk about community in this industry? What are you talking about? Are you talking about the customer? Are you talking about the culture within a company, what what are you referring to what type of community building are you doing?

Dheeraj Nayal 19:34
Right, so I think that’s a very interesting question, Jason, because, like I said, initially, I’ve been involved with respect to not just from the community development perspective, but also to conceptualize what a community entails for the, for the organization for the end-user, per se. So I think there are different taxonomy to share about communities and I will also refer to some of the acts Gamble’s that aligns with it. So we talk about communities of product. And I think you know it better than anyone, where we talk about communities of productive members of these communities, are focused primarily on discussing and learning about a specific product. And I mean, take example of SIP for us beauty insiders or Tullos champions program, or Salesforce trailblazers. So I think all these are and have been a community of products, which has also been running quite successfully. And then we talk about communities of practice, where members are all about leveling up, or discipline or craft and connecting with other practitioners independent of any tools or platform. And some of the examples which I can think is like, the Cohort Based Learning Community on deck or design communities, like Tribble, so the DevOps Institute, absolutely, and DevOps Institute has been spearheading it, as part of the DevOps and emerging technologies, which has been really successful has been able to derive the values which are required by the community members, which keeps on evolving. And I think last, which I can think of is the communities of play, which is also very intriguing because members of these communities come together around a common interest, like sports, gaming, athletics, and I can think of a gaming communities which happens on Discord, or even the NBA, Topshop, which I think his again, makes it really together as part of that sense of belonging. So if I have that sense of belonging, whether it’s coming from an end-user, or whether it’s coming from an enterprise, I think then all together, the communities become a singularity from both sides. And I think that really matters because then the enterprise tend to see their go-to-market approaches change to go to the community, and then where the community also sees the value is derived by the various products, services, and other initiatives from the enterprise’s as well.

Jason Baum 22:29
Yeah, and, and, and the sales funnel has really kind of flipped over the years, the sales funnel obviously used to be our team is gonna come up with it research and development, they’re gonna figure out what what you know, what’s going to be the next great product, we’re going to push that out, marketing is going to sell it, and then we’re going to drive that to the consumer and, and now in and that’s applicable for almost all industries. And now that funnel has flipped, and we live in a really interesting time. I mean, I’m talking to you right now you’re in Delhi, India, and I’m in New Jersey, in the United States. And I mean, we are having a seamless conversation over a platform, right, that that really derived out of necessity more than anything, or at least became popular due to that. But the sales funnel was flipped. And now that we have been the voice of the consumer has been empowered, more so than ever before. We have social media, we have rating systems, right Amazon put those little rating things on there for reviews and that took off. And now everyone has reviews and everyone is you buy based on referrals you buy based on what other people in the community are referring to you buy based on what an influencer is telling you to buy, companies are coming up with the products in a vacuum companies are listening to the chatter, and then they are coming up with the products that the consumer wants. And then the consumer is getting what they want. Because if the consumer is not getting what they want, they will tell you about it, and then they will get what they want. So community has become more important than probably ever in the sales chain. And then yeah, I mean, professionally, that’s been a model forever. That’s the model I I’m passionate about, obviously the most director of membership for an association. But yeah, every component I think communities are more prolific now than they’ve probably ever been because we’ve been empowered.

Dheeraj Nayal 24:25
Absolutely. And I think you made a great point about the funnel because I think the classic metaphor of the funnel has defined most go-to-market strategies. And it’s focused on optimizing every step of the process from awareness and discovery to evaluation, engagement, conversation, sales, loyalty, and advocacy. Pushing leads through linearly extracting value at each stage. While community on the other hand, like you mentioned is about pushing people towards a binary endpoint, but each about creating an environment so compelling that it naturally attracts people towards the center. And I think in other words, extending to the funnel, which you mentioned, healthy and active communities, just like DevOps Institute have that gravity, a high gravity community is the one that excels at attracting and retaining community members, but at the same time, help and maintains this gravity, which is also being derived to other members who are keen to join as part of the larger community. And I think that all derive as a benefit to the company as part of their overall business goals.

Jason Baum 25:49
It’s so well said and I don’t know as we’re talking about it, I think about just how funny it is how much things have changed and the need for continuous learning, right? I mean, what we learned in business school and communications about the sales funnel in the traditional model of how things are set up, and how that is so not the case anymore. It’s changed significantly. In 1520 years, it’s like, I think that infomercial, forget everything you know about slipcovers, it’s like forget everything you know about what you learned in college because you know, what, if it, if it was 1520 years ago, it’s not relevant anymore. And yeah, continuous learning is so important not to plug our own continuous learning. But I mean, I am going to plug her on continuous learning. But it’s it is it’s important to it, life is a journey, right? We’re always evolving, we evolve with the times and things are changing, and social media. And that empowerment has changed literally everything about how business is done today. And when it comes to community, even in the corporate culture, employees, you have people are talking about diversity, inclusion culture more than they ever have. And your employers are essentially a community themselves. You see it now when people are posting jobs, it’s so competitive out there right now. And one thing that I know that people are looking for is is a good corporate community, a good corporate culture? So you’re gonna see the I think communities have never been more powerful than they are today.

Dheeraj Nayal 27:24
Absolutely. And I think, as it has been quoted, that every company is a software company, or will be a software company. And down the line, I think every company will be a community-focused company, because that’s where even the new role or the emerging roles, which we see when in DevOps, like developers advocate, Dev Rel has been coming up quite strongly, because that’s where it has been focusing on the community development, community engagement. And I think from the organizational perspective, community is the new presales. Because it’s not just about engaging with the community but also making sure that they are able to send the message of their purpose of existence from the organization’s perspective to the larger audience as part of their community engagements.

Jason Baum 28:17
I think that’s a great place to kind of, to segue away from this conversation because I think you just put the period on it. Every company is going to be a community company. I think that’s a very powerful statement. I love that. And it’s not going to market. It’s go-to community. I think those were the big takeaways that I got from this. I want to go back and for our last question of the podcast, ask you something that I like to ask everyone is, what is one unique thing about you that nobody knows? Never told it professionally? It could be anything about yourself. Something fun.

Dheeraj Nayal 29:02
Yes, I think that’s kind of putting us on a spot because something more of a

Jason Baum 29:10
that’s my job. Yeah, absolutely.

Dheeraj Nayal 29:14
So I think I’m not a terrible singer. I can still sing decently well, although I’ve never sang anywhere professionally. I’ve been a bathroom singer or have sung a couple of times, very personally, but I think certainly I have some, some are a bit of a quality of being an amateur singer as well.

Jason Baum 29:39
You realize what you just did right now. You’re totally Yeah, you’re you know, at our next DOI all hands. Dheeraj is going to be singing for all of us. Don’t worry, we’ll get a few drinks and your first Dariush thank you so much for being on this episode of the humans of DevOps podcast was a lot of fun.

Dheeraj Nayal 30:02
Thank you so much, Jason. It’s a pleasure.

Jason Baum 30:05
And something that, you know we’ve been toying with. For you, our listeners, if you have questions while you’re listening to the podcast, we’d love for you to send them in. And if they’re good, we’ll read them. Not all questions will make it but please send us questions, we’re going to come up with an email address for you. But in the meantime, send us an email to Member Services at DevOps And we will read them on air on one of these podcasts it I think that would be fun. So if you have a question, please send it in could be for me, it could be for a guest. We’ll try and get that guest to give an answer something and maybe we can make it a little more interactive with you. Thank you for listening. Thank you again Dheeraj and thank you for listening to this episode of the humans of DevOps Podcast. I’m going to end this the same way I always do encourage you to become a premium member of DevOps Institute to get access to even more great resources just like this one. And until next time, stay safe, stay healthy, and most of all, stay human, live long and prosper.

Narrator 31:11
Thanks for listening to this episode of the humans of DevOps podcast. Don’t forget to join our global community to get access to even more great resources like this. Until next time, remember, you are part of something bigger than yourself. You belong

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