Internationally acclaimed technologist and speaker Anjuan Simmons will provide a framework for reducing burnout and managing stress levels at DevConf2020, as part of a conference track titled ‘Mental Health in Tech’.

To be held in Cape Town on 31 March and in Johannesburg on 2 April, this annual gathering of software developers and professionals is expected to attract more than 1 250 delegates.

DevConf organisers Robert MacLean and Candice Herodotou say the average profile of a member of the software development industry is that of an individual who is at risk of burnout, while being one of the least likely to seek help.

“This motivated us to again focus on mental health at next year’s event. We believe this holistic approach to the software development community is what makes DevConf a very special conference indeed, one focused on both the technology and the people who develop it,” says Herodotou.

Simmons, who has over 20 years’ experience in the software development field, is an engineer by training, an agilist, has an MBA from Texas A&M University and is known for his upbeat, relaxed presentation style.

He says in his presentation, titled ‘Managing the Burnout Burndown,’ he hopes to share new thinking about the people side of software development. “Managing humans is hard, and I hope to help attendees understand how to take an empathetic approach to stress and burnout.

“I really look forward to being part of the well-crafted DevConf experience and to learning more about South Africa and its tech community.”

According to Herodotou, DevConf 2019 provided a ground-breaking moment in the careers of many software developers.

“Industrial psychologist Tanya du Plessis and her husband, software developer Riaan du Plessis presented what – for many – would be a life-changing talk on burnout and mental health in tech.

“Providing real-life experiences, tools to deal with burnout and how to identify the signs of family, friends and colleagues led to many attendees seeking help for burn-out related stress and health issues,” she says.

Du Plessis says people working in tech need to deal with job demands that are inherent to the industry which can lead to severe job strain if not managed properly.

“Our experience at Devconf 2019 proved that there is a need among IT professionals to be better equipped to deal with these demands.

“Sharing our story increased awareness about these demands and how it can lead to burnout. It could also contribute to removing the stigma associated with stress and burnout in the workplace.

“Throughout the conference, attendees and speakers freely shared their personal experiences and challenges with stress and burnout.”

Other topics that will be discussed at DevConf 2020 include languages and technology, diversity and inclusion, architecture and domain design.

DevConf targets professional software developers, from solo developers to anyone who works in mid to large-sized organisations, contributing to projects of all sizes.