This week, guest host Ben Lloyd Pearson sits down with Bloomberg’s Engineering Manager Luis Vega. Luis discusses the initial challenges of enhancing developer engagement with internal tooling. He outlines his approach to building internal applications that are as intuitive and engaging as Bloomberg's client-facing solutions, and how applying UX design principles and branding for tools dramatically increased adoption. Vega also reflects on transitioning from a hands-on developer to a managerial role, emphasizing the importance of understanding team dynamics and fostering a culture of support and innovation within Bloomberg.

I was so excited about it because it was such a technical challenge that I started coding, and I didn't realize I was literally blocking the team. That realization of like, you're not here to be the star in the code. You're here to make sure they become the star. When it really hit me that like I just needed to get out of the way of the tough technical coding, things really started happening. But I really wish people think about this now that are becoming managers because they will not have to get burned so many times. That's the one lesson I will tell any future engineering manager.

Episode Highlights:

01:14 What is Bloomberg?
02:52 How do you get developers to embrace internal tooling?
06:58 Giving applications mascots
12:28 Helping developers be more productive with internal tooling
18:31 What was the biggest challenge to tackle when developing internal tooling?
25:41 Luis' journey into development
32:07 What's next for Bloomberg's internal tools?

Show Notes:


(Disclaimer: may contain unintentionally confusing, inaccurate and/or amusing transcription errors)

[00:00:00] Luis Vega: I was so excited about it because it was such a technical challenge that I started coding.

And I didn't realize I was literally blocking the team

that realization of like, you're not here to be the star in the code. You're here to make sure they become the star. So, so when it really hit me that like I just needed to get out of the way of the tough technical

coding. Things really start happening. But I really wish people think about this now that are becoming managers for future managers because they will not have to get burned so many times. And you know, people have to learn sometimes by getting burned. And go ahead. Do the critical part and learn yourself, but that's the one lesson I will tell any future engineering


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[00:01:23] Ben Lloyd Pearson: Hey everyone. Welcome back to Dev Interrupted. I'm Ben Lloyd Pearson, director of Developer Relations here at Linear B. Today I'm joined by Louis Vega, an engineering manager at Bloomberg Louis, it's great to have you here today.

[00:01:36] Luis Vega: Ah, it is my pleasure to join

you and like I'm pretty excited to be in this bubble

[00:01:41] Ben Lloyd Pearson: Dome.

[00:01:41] Luis Vega: Please. This

[00:01:41] Ben Lloyd Pearson: is Dome, I'm sorry. So you were recently recruited to lead a team that that owns revamps and creates applications for Bloomberg's JavaScript framework. Um, which is used by thousands of developers across the company. And your goal is to develop internal tools that follow many of [00:02:00] the same application development, research, and UX design.

Principles that are used in Bloomberg's client facing tools. So, from what we understand, the challenge was not only that there were very few internal tools at the company to aid you in that process, but the ones that existed weren't very well embraced by developers, like even including yourself. Uh, so I wanna dive into what it took to revamp the internal applications at Bloomberg and the path that you, you followed to become a manager along the way.

What is Bloomberg?

[00:02:30] Ben Lloyd Pearson: I think that sounds like a pretty interesting story. Um, but before we jump in, uh, 'cause we may have an audience that's not as familiar with Bloomberg, can you tell us just what is Bloomberg

[00:02:39] Luis Vega: Yeah, absolutely. So,

um, you probably heard from Bloomberg, if you go to like dark news or if you happen to be on our.

Bloomberg TV channel, but that is actually not what we do. Those are just information sources that feed to the Bloomberg terminal. So Bloomberg, a main product is called the Bloomberg terminal, and it really powers financial professionals around [00:03:00] the world.

If you really want to do serious stuff in finance, you need a Bloomberg terminal. Basically how it works. The best way to think about it, imagine your phone and you have obviously tons and tons of applications from your App Store or Play Store, whatever. The Bloomberg Terminal has over 20, 000 applications, we call them functions, you're going to hear me say that a lot, installing to the Bloomberg terminal on the get go.

So somebody with access to the terminal can basically type one to four letters and run one of these applications. The internal tools use the same technology. Talk about eating your own food. So in order to make an internal application, you can also, you, you, we use the same technology and the same things, and we put it in the Bloomberg terminal.

So employees at Bloomberg actually have free access to the Bloomberg terminal little, uh, employee perk there. Um, so that's a little bit what we do in, in engineering. So, um, that is the, the core of the, of the company there.

[00:03:56] Ben Lloyd Pearson: Great. Uh, and, and, and I, I love, this is going to be [00:04:00] horrible to say it, but I love hearing about tools that developers ignore.

How do you get developers to embrace internal tooling?

[00:04:03] Ben Lloyd Pearson: As a developer who, as a former developer who used to love to find ways to circumvent coding standards, Um, I, I want to hear a little bit more about the state of internal, internal tooling when you joined, Uh, and, and why developers, including yourself, You know, fail to embrace them across the organization.

[00:04:21] Luis Vega: Yeah. So we have to, um, dial back the clock to like 2000, maybe 17, 18. Right. Um, since engineering teams in software infrastructure, let's say they were providing frameworks for other teams to build these tens of thousands of applications, sometimes they were like, oh, but we also need, um, you know, an internal tool to manage our

particular framework or whatever it is. So engineers will build an application as part of a managing kind of like their framework. But it was more of a, oh, we need that tool. Rather than really carefully planning from the beginning. So the [00:05:00] same team that provide a service or a particular API to the whole rest of the company was building these tools as a side project per se or as a neat basis.

Let's call it like that. At the time I was a senior engineer in Bloomberg at charts and data visualization, we had to interact a lot with software infrastructure because of the tech that we were using, all of the widgets and the graphing applications. So we had to use a lot of these side tools. And I've been very vocal all my career, I think.

So whenever we see something, you put a ticket, is my saying. So I ended up dealing with a lot of tickets of these tools with this software infrastructure counterpart. To the point that I was known for being the person demanding things. www. Um, and this is how it all began. So, so that was the state of the, of the world, kind of like for, for some years at Bloomberg.

[00:05:55] Ben Lloyd Pearson: Yeah. And I imagine developers do not respond well to demands. Right. ,

[00:05:59] Luis Vega: [00:06:00] well, you know, the response varies ,

depending on, on how you ask for sure. Um, but, but yeah, so, so con to continue on your question there, so what happened was the manager of these tools, um, I had a relationship with him, you know, um, and then he saw me in the elevator one day and he said, Louis, I was talking about you.

I was like, okay, this is not gonna be good . But then he surprised me and he said. We've been thinking about building a team dedicated to build these internal tools. Because you're right, we had it. You're showing us that we can do better. And then he literally offered me to lead the team to build the tools that I kept, not complaining, but you know, opening requests about.

Um, with proper support, full time support. And I thought, this is an excellent opportunity. Maybe we can really turn this around. Right? So, so, after a lot of hesitation, like personal hesitation that I went over in my talk, I decided to do it. [00:07:00] And then I started this team, right? And then we started like saying, you know, what if the internal tools are awesome?

What if we actually put the time and engineering resources and UX resources to make them great? And that's how the whole dream started. We started with a small team, actually it was me, two pre trainees. Fantastic pre trainees, by the way, and a UX person. And that's a little bit of the secret superpower that we found out.

We were able to work with a UX, um, colleague of ours, that, uh, she had a lot of technical background. And she was like, from day one, a member of the team. So we treat her as an engineer, right? She was part of our spring plannings, spring reviews, all of the rituals. And we started really designing these tools, interviewing our engineers, right?

One of the things that, What was a missed opportunity is that these tools were for our own colleagues. We know them. We, we have lunch with them. [00:08:00] So we actually said, Hey, why don't we just book a, you know, meetings in their calendars and let's meet with them. Let's see what their pain points are. So we actually started exploring that.

Giving Applications Mascots

[00:08:09] Luis Vega: And before we know, we started doing all of the development, we started like investigating what we were going to do. We came up with the whole idea of the mascots, which is if you haven't watched the talk, watch it. LeadDev. LeadDev, sorry. Okay, so the mascot development. The idea here, so in Bloomberg, I mentioned you have all these tens of thousands of applications, right?

We call them functions. The name of these functions is one to four letters. That's it. I'll give you an example. GP, Graphical Platform, and then it gives you a price graph. And things like that. They're letters. We call them mnemonics. So our idea was instead of using cumbersome mnemonics, let's create words in, or you know, words that people understand and remember.

So our first application was called Jack for Lumberjack. 'cause it was a application to bring logs from our [00:09:00]customers. Whenever they have errors, whatever we, we can bring the logs into engineers desks so they can analyze him. So we call them Jack, why Jack, because it's lumberjack. And the mascot is like this very cute, lumberjack.

And that was inspiring one of our colleagues, actually, , the lumberjacks bring the logs, which are the customer logs. Yeah, whatever. It was like a, a little cheesy explanation to support it. The point

[00:09:20] Ben Lloyd Pearson: I, I, I love cheeky names like that. Yeah. Yeah. That's wonderful.

[00:09:22] Luis Vega: But the point

is, now people are talking about Jack all over the company.

Yeah. And they're like, oh, have you used Jack, Jack, Jack? Oh, they have stickers. They have a mask on. And then the engineers start being like, I developed Jack. Well, all of the other engineers were developing letters, . So it really created this identity and this passionate on our engineers to be like, we need to build,

Jack has to be awesome.

[00:09:42] Ben Lloyd Pearson: Yeah. I mean, you're effectively turning engineers into like celebrities almost within your company, right?

[00:09:47] Luis Vega: It

is, it is true, yes. Because they started getting so much exposure, you know, and recognition of like as, and, and Bloomberg has a lot of ownership, so people already has the whole concept of like, somebody owns something.

So when you [00:10:00] start owning the stickers that like managers and like start having in their laptops, they're, yeah, you're right. They start getting, popular , which is a great thing. And so we started having,

[00:10:10] Ben Lloyd Pearson: having

an OKR for the number of management people that have your sticker on their laptop. Then ,

[00:10:15] Luis Vega: I definitely, I definitely did a little deck drops, so I would like identify the desk of like the top head departments in engineering and come early and like drop some stickers there, see what happens.

sometimes they stick on their laptop. Say like, what? What is this cute doctor ta? So anyway, so that was the idea. And then, again, the superpower of the UX, I have to say, because people were used to the applications we had internally, but then you really come and hit them out of the blue with this well designed, kind of like my manager used to say, Look, everybody, and not to, you know, throw shade on any cars, but this is what he said, everybody's used here to like old Toyota Camrys.

And you're building like a Lamborghini. Like with top design, with all of the tools, belts, and whistles. [00:11:00] And we're like, okay, I guess that's what we're building. We're building a Lamborghini of an application. So yeah, we started with one, with Jack, and then it was widely, widely popular. And then we said, okay, let's keep revamping all of our tools.

And then we're rapidly starting doing the same process for all of our portfolio of tools. And before you know it, you far fast forward the clock one year and a half, one year. And then we have recruited top engineers because they get like, oh, I wanna be part of that team. Of course that that's what I wanna be, how do I get my

[00:11:29] Ben Lloyd Pearson: own sticker?

[00:11:30] Luis Vega: Right. Right. Exactly. Like I want, I wanna own my own thing. Right. And, you know, I really thought I made it

I was like, that's it,

[00:11:42] Ben Lloyd Pearson: that's wonderful.

[00:11:43] Luis Vega: If they're bringing this to brunch, they said, we, we made it. They're, they're talking about, you know, all these, all these applications in their daily lives. This is amazing.

[00:11:50] Ben Lloyd Pearson: This reminds me a lot of, like the lumberjack example in particular of how like a lot of open source communities sort of brand themselves, you know, so it's like, I don't know if you're familiar [00:12:00] with like the concept of inner source, where you take like the practices of open source internally into a company.

But I love that, and it's such a, like, it's, it's silly, but it's such a motivating factor, because, like I said, you're creating this, this shared identity that you can then celebrate, and that you can then elevate people who are involved with that, and I mean, that's, that's, that's beautiful.

[00:12:19] Luis Vega: Yeah, yeah, it was, it was good.

Um, the mascots came from another colleague of ours, a visual designer, and he, he, he does amazing visuals for work and outside of work. Nice. Um, and then he He had a good relationship with the manager. I met him. We really kick it off and then, you know, all he wants is to make sure that he's building cool, cool ma and that people can see them.

So when we told him, you know, we can put in the stickers and everything, he got really excited. Now the board, the board got out, so obviously other managers were like, whoa. Have you seen what Louis is doing with his. Who is your designer? So they talked to him [00:13:00] and then he became really popular. So you can imagine today I believe he has built over 50 mascots all over the company.

He has a backlog of mascots, it's hard to get one now. But the real story here is that this idea of creating a personal identity for what you build. Has really spread across the company.

[00:13:22] Ben Lloyd Pearson: Yeah.

[00:13:22] Luis Vega: And and I really think that that's what, pretty, pretty about it. 'cause it's not like. Nobody's taking the credit of the idea, but it's more like, as a culture, it's evolving towards that identity and that brightness of like, this is my code, and it's good code, you know?

So I think it's beautiful.

Helping developers be more productive with internal tooling

[00:13:40] Ben Lloyd Pearson: Yeah, you know, so we talk to a lot of people who work in platform engineering on this podcast and at our company. Would you classify this work as a form of platform engineering, or is it different in some way?

[00:13:54] Luis Vega: Particularly

what I

do, it's tools for developers to be more productive [00:14:00] in their entire life cycle.

Coding, finding documentation, finding, um, you know, code samples, all of that discovery phase. The releasing part, knowing all of the assets they own, making sure they're released consistently, making sure they don't forget one, and the debugging side. So obviously the part of, you deploy everything and things crash.

We built a lot of applications for that. Um, in between, we, we have a team obviously dedicated for all the ticket management. We actually own the ticket platform that Bloomberg uses. So, um, it is definitely, I, I don't know if it's platform, but it's more, um, I, I would call it developer lifecycle.

[00:14:39] Ben Lloyd Pearson: Okay. Or developer experience.


[00:14:41] Luis Vega: experience, which is the name of the department. ,

[00:14:43] Ben Lloyd Pearson: yeah. Okay. Wonderful. Wonderful. We got there. . So I want to, I want to touch on a comparison that you made a little bit earlier. Uh, so you're in a world where everyone at Bloomberg is driving Toyota Camrys, I think you said. The Lamborghini dealership opens up [00:15:00] next door, obviously driving a sports car like that, you know, if you're used to just driving an automatic Camry every day, um, leveling up to that, that higher quality, to that deeper engineering, the more complex, like, feature set.

Did you, did you have to do a lot of training to, to sort of, like, level up engineers that, that were using some of this stuff, or? Or did you try to make it the Lamborghini that's as easy to drive as a Camry kind of thing? .

[00:15:26] Luis Vega: So, yeah.

Um, we definitely, we definitely, uh, value, you know, making it easy to onboard.

But as you said, you had to have some learning so that we actually did something for this that I wanna comment on. And we are big on, on chats in Bloomberg. We have a chat for everything. We, we use our own platform. Instant Bloomberg. Think of your instant messaging. Uh, we also use it internally is also an external product of Bloomberg, so I can talk about it.

Um, but we have, we have chats, technical chats for, for [00:16:00] absolutely every community and, and staff in Bloomberg. So what we did in our applications is we created a very, um, a reusable component, basically called live support. So on the top right of any of applications, you have the live support button. You click it.

And it's kind of like a little bit of, um, a clickbait because it automatically adds you into the support chat for that given application. And now you're there in a community of people that are, um, that know this application. Going back to the popularity and the rockstar engineers, they're the ones that are answering all the questions because they're the ones that know.

So when somebody wanted help, they have this live support button, and now they're talking to their colleagues. And that created multiple things, right? It created our engineers to be much better at communication by answering questions from their users. It created a community of people that train itself on how to do things because the third time you ask something in a week, people know.

People that are not of your team start answering the questions. [00:17:00] They're like, nice, they're, they, they, maybe we should hire them , maybe we should recruit them. Right? So, so it created that community base. So yes, there had to be some learning, but I think we really used what we call our support chats, uh, as a self growing community,

of experts of each application and, and yeah. Ka subreddit that like becomes expert on how to shop best at Costco. Right. In the Costco sub Reddit,

[00:17:29] Ben Lloyd Pearson: every niche

question you can imagine.

[00:17:30] Luis Vega: Exactly.

[00:17:30] Ben Lloyd Pearson: There's



[00:17:31] Luis Vega: Exactly. And, and obviously the history is there and then there are like facts and, and so yes, there is a learning curve, but we, uh, leverage our community for it.

[00:17:40] Ben Lloyd Pearson: Yeah. So is is there, is there some sort of extrinsic like motivating factor for people to answer questions? Or is it simply just like. Do you have a culture of people wanting to be experts and wanting to lead and just sort of intrinsically wanting to make, make that, you know, that effort to, to help out colleagues?

[00:17:58] Luis Vega: That's a good question. I really think it's [00:18:00] the culture. I really think in Bloomberg we're just so Ingrained on helping each other and on teamwork that if you know something, you just wanna share it. But, but it's a good question. I wonder the people that participate a lot, if they have some other motive motives on them,

But really, like, I, I participate in the things that I know and like I do it because, yeah, I think it's the culture. Yeah, I know the answer to that. So why will I keep it to myself?

[00:18:27] Ben Lloyd Pearson: Yeah.

[00:18:28] Luis Vega: Yeah. I think we have a culture of like sharing alone,

[00:18:30] Ben Lloyd Pearson: uh, that's really awesome. Like, do you know where the source of that culture is by any chance?

I mean, it's a large company, so you, I

[00:18:35] Luis Vega: I really think it's, it's

ingrained in the way, well, I'm, I'm gonna be a little cheeky here, but I, I really think it's what Michael Bloomberg believes. Because, uh, but, um, like, he always, like, promotes talking to colleagues and, and you see this in the form of the elevators not stopping in every floor.

And then you have to see people and I, and, and, you know, as Chiquita said, I can attest to that because I got my managerial role because my manager saw me in [00:19:00] the elevator. You know, years later he confessed to me that he had a second person in mind and I was actually number two. In the least, but he saw me first

[00:19:10] Ben Lloyd Pearson: And you convinced him while you were in the elevator.

I It must have been a good elevator


I, I,

[00:19:14] Luis Vega: I Right so, so, you know, it's fine. I, I got, I accept it. I mean, he, his number one pick was, is awesome colleague of mine. But, but you know, it works. So, so I think it's ingrained in the culture. And we have a pantry where everybody like gets food and talks and.

And it is well seen, and people get known, I guess.

Maybe we can just step back for just one moment. So let's go back to when you set out to create this tooling.

What was the biggest challenge to tackle when developing internal tooling?

[00:19:42] Ben Lloyd Pearson: So what was the biggest or the most important thing that you felt like you had to tackle when you were first, like, approaching this problem?

[00:19:52] Luis Vega: I think the first thing that we told the team, and we told ourselves, was we're not going to code. [00:20:00] Don't code anything. We need to understand what is the problem. so we can come up with a solution too often in engineering.

You wanna answer before you have a proper question? ? Mm-Hmm. . So, I, I, I feel like we really, and it was a little bit of a tough sell at the beginning. I, I remember my managers were like, Hmm, but why are you not coding ? I'm like, no, no, no. I need to interview people. And it was literally like a road show. Like we had meetings back to back with the ux, uh, person we're working with.

[00:20:28] Ben Lloyd Pearson: I'm, I've actually had a lot of success with roadshows in the past.

[00:20:31] Luis Vega: Yeah. And like, and, and we start interviewing. So when we understand the, the quest, the problem, then we said, why don't we just build that solution and start from there? So, so we, we, we start with a like very simple MVP of like, Hey, let's download the logs , let's make sure we can bring the logs through to, you know, to be, be able to open them.

And then we started from there and building from there. Different organizations have different experience working with UX all over the spectrum, I [00:21:00] bet. But what we have really found extremely successful, and I really call it a superpower for us, is to be able to ingrain them as part of the team and not use them as consultants.

Like, oh, you know, we'll send these documents to UX. No, no, get them in the meetings. Get them involved. And if they lack a little bit of technical expertise, Get them a little bit on board, like get them to understand what's happening. Get them in the chat again of like where all the PRs are flying by and like, they can see what's going on.

Um, Yeah, I think that was very useful.

[00:21:32] Ben Lloyd Pearson: And then, you know, you talked about a little bit of resistance from, from leadership around like how you approached your first step. Was, was there anything else that, that, uh, you felt like some resistance or that you had to spend a little extra time getting them on board with this effort?

Like, and maybe, maybe this happens like long before you even kicked off this initiative.

[00:21:51] Luis Vega: Yeah, I mean, everybody's going to at some point talk about ROI. Yeah. Right. Okay. So we're investing these resources. What are we [00:22:00] getting back? Right. And I feel like more than resistance, that was a very, uh, burning question.

Um, because at the end of the day, we, we had the opportunity of creating our roadmap and decide what was more important, if a was more important than b. But we needed, we know, we knew, I knew that I had to show to management that what we did made sense and that it's successful. Now, with that in mind, we took advantage of a lot of usage tracking technologies that we have at Bloomberg to make sure that users are running the application, how much, what features are they using.

and what workflows are they're following, and the usage numbers, and then really took advantage of my years in charts to put everything on a chart. I'm, you know, on the tagline, like, your status in the IV chart, my status was put a chart on it. Um, and yeah, I really am very visual. So I [00:23:00] made sure that everything we do, we're measuring.

So that when we release it, and look, look, not every application was a success, right? But when it wasn't, it was clear that it wasn't, and maybe we needed to shift gears to something that was skyrocketing. We had to migrate a couple old applications to new ones. And we used charts to show like literally using the dropping of the old one and coming to the new one.

We had a lot of features to, um, make certain workflows faster and we measured that. To the point that we had a chart of, um, hours of engineers saved by going, um, a new workflow versus, like, the new workflow versus the old one. And we had, like, a big number that keep growing. So, so I think, um, Yeah, that was one of the things that I, that I anticipated to be resistance.

[00:23:43] Ben Lloyd Pearson: I, I'm, I'm actually curious how, how are you

measuring the number of hours saved?

[00:23:47] Luis Vega: Yeah. Well, this one was very easy. I'll explain. So you had to, uh, in order to release code, they had to like select the, the, the stuff that they're moving, the, the pick their deployment, like a number of, a number of. [00:24:00] a number of steps, think like three steps that they had to do.

But a lot of them became a little boilerplate, and you can actually derive the information a lot. So it became more like, you know, like checking a form when you entered somewhere in America, like everything has a form, and it's like, are you guys really processing this paper, or is this just paperwork? It felt like that, and we could derive it.

So now we, um, we created a quick way of doing that, which was a single click. You prefilled the information like the format where to parse the data once and then you just click it. So what we did is we released it to half of the population and we start measuring the time that they took before, for months, before we had this feature.

So we knew that the average of creating this process was about, let's say, 40 seconds. But in the new one, it was instant. So, it was like, we were generous and said, okay, we take two seconds to process it, so let's take two seconds better to 40. And then we just measure, we basically back test on how many times this request used to happen before we created it, and we [00:25:00] start measuring in the new one.

So, you interpolate, you like, supersede the graphs, and then you can see how much time was spent before and after. So, this one was very straightforward. , uh, one of the few that was straightforward. ?

[00:25:12] Ben Lloyd Pearson: Yeah. Have, have you been able to do anything to tie. What you've done to like the quality of your engineering?

Like are you, you shipping more reliable code? Are users happier or have you seen anything like that?

[00:25:24] Luis Vega: Definitely, uh, the user happiness, I think it's a big one. And, and we do have these, um. Document where we keep all of the quotes that come from users that we capture in all the communication channels. Yeah.

And we're very eager to display this to management. Every time there are questions about things, I'm like, oh, you know this person that started with you at Bloomberg 25 years ago? Look what they have to say about the application. Yeah. Definitely customer feedback is huge. And, and one of the things I I, I really, really, um, learned is like my first seven years at Bloomberg, I was working on client facing applications, [00:26:00] right?

Hundreds of thousands of users per day. All of the Bloomberg users in the world use it, and, and that felt great, but the feedback loop is harder because customers. Are not in your company, you know, they're busy doing work. Sometimes they give feedback.

[00:26:13] Ben Lloyd Pearson: Yeah.

[00:26:13] Luis Vega: But when I moved to engineering tools, I really thought, oh, am I not working on the most imp like the bigger thing, right?

Like, how am I gonna get that customer feeling? But the reality is when you work on engineering tools, you get the feedback loop right away. So, so, so that was very gratifying and I guess customer feedback to answer your question there. And then, on the code quality,

we definitely have tools and things at Bloomberg to measure crashes and things like that. So we can show that like, you know, we're, we're, we're good. Performant, yeah.

[00:26:45] Ben Lloyd Pearson: Cool. Uh, so yeah, it's a wonderful breakdown of, you know, the technical challenges, how you rolled out these changes.

What was Luis' journey into development?

[00:26:52] Ben Lloyd Pearson: Um, let's, let's transition to talk a little bit about your personal journey.

Because from my understanding, you know, as a part of, you know, we already talked about how [00:27:00] you transitioned to management through all of this. Other than an elevator conversation, how did that transition start? Like, was this the, was this a project that you were engaged in? Like, was that sort of the catalyst, or was there?

Um, something before that that sort of kicked off that transition. Like how, how did you make that start?

[00:27:19] Luis Vega: Yeah, so I wanted, I wanted to be a software engineer since I was like 10, right? Like, uh, I, I asked my mom for like a visual basic six at the time.

[00:27:26] Ben Lloyd Pearson: Wow. I think I wanted to

be a police officer or something when I was 10.


[00:27:29] Luis Vega: I wanna tell you what I wanted to be when I was five, but let, let's stay at the 10 year mark. Um, and then she didn't, she gave me a skateboard. She's like, you need, you need friends.

[00:27:38] Ben Lloyd Pearson: You're gonna be a pro skater. Yeah. Like, yeah, yeah.

[00:27:40] Luis Vega: She's like, no, you need

friends. Get out of the house. I was like, okay.

But my grandma gave me the book. . Yeah. Um, so, so when I started as a software engineer, I, I was really, that was my dream, right? Like, I, I, I love coding, you know, and to this day I really, really love coding. But, um, my managers and the people, like my mentors start seeing that there was a [00:28:00] leadership aspect on me that they wanted to explore.

And, and they start putting the seed in me of like, what if you develop people? I'm like, yeah, I think I would love that, but, but you know, I wanna code something . So it took me a while to really make that decision. And, and honestly, when, when I got the offer to lead the team in the elevator , um, I really thought about it.

I'm like, am I ready for this? But, but after talking to a lot of people, I made the conscious decision. of changing to a managerial path. So obviously, you still need to be very technical, but you know, your goal now is to lead engineers and not code for them. And so I think I made that decision, a little bit of like an intentional one.

Okay, let's become very good at this. I'm probably not good at all. And then I really started there. When we started seeing buildings applications and seeing the customer feedback and the response on our team and my managers, I was like, okay, I guess, I guess this is it. I'm going to keep [00:29:00] investing and doing this.

And what I really found That I didn't know it was going to happen and it was that satisfaction of seeing my team grow. And that was so amazing. One of the, I had an intern in charts when he came back to full time, he joined my team. And amazing relationship with him. He was excellent. He is an excellent engineer.

And then he said, I have a friend from school. Maybe we should recruit him. Bring him in. So we hired him, and another fantastic developer, right? And I started living vicariously through all of them. I'm like, yeah, he's great. Okay, I feel good about it. And he was really into the open source. So I really coached him, like, okay, let's, let's, how do we do this at Bloomberg?

Let's help. And he joined this 39. which is Technical Committee 39, you know, the Congress of JavaScript, or how the language evolved. And he submitted a proposal at the time for records and tuples. And he got it all the way through. Now, with [00:30:00] what's forward to today, it's a thing. So, I can say that he, you know, made the JavaScript language better, or at least added new features to it.

Better is going to be subjective. Um, and the feeling of that. It's so much greater satisfaction for me than coding. So that's when I decided, okay, you know what, let's do this managerial thing. Head on and let's keep going on it and let's see what it lead us.

[00:30:29] Ben Lloyd Pearson: Yeah. So what do you think is the biggest lesson you've learned through this journey?

[00:30:33] Luis Vega: Um, I think it's to stay away from the critical path. I mentioned that in the talk yesterday. Um, obviously when, uh, the road to be sitting here was yeah, Rocky . I made a lot of mistakes. Um, when I, when I started this application that I, that I was talking about, I was so excited about it because it was such a technical challenge that I started coding.

And I didn't realize I was literally blocking the team[00:31:00]

And, and obviously I had to, uh, have to like meet with customers and I said I was doing all this exploratory work, uh, at the same time. So, so it's like, okay, wait, that realization of like, you're not here to be the star in the code. You're here to make sure they become the star. So, so when it really hit me that like I just needed to get out of the way of the tough technical

coding. Things really start happening. But I really wish people think about this now that are becoming managers for future managers because they will not have to get burned so many times. And you know, people have to learn sometimes by getting burned. And go ahead. Do the critical part and learn yourself, but that's the one lesson I will tell any future engineering


[00:31:48] Ben Lloyd Pearson: Gotcha. Uh, and then when, when you made this transition, did you feel like the initiatives that you were, you were leading across Bloomberg? Uh, like, like how did they [00:32:00] level up? Like what, what changed as a result of this personal change for you in terms of the work that you are accomplishing at the company?

[00:32:07] Luis Vega: I,

[00:32:07] Ben Lloyd Pearson: I really,

[00:32:07] Luis Vega: I, I, I think the customer feedback like our cus like our peers feedback, you know, it, it, there is some very satisfying thing in your colleagues to say. This is awesome, but it's also really, um, a reality when they tell you, this is not that awesome, you know, you've been focusing on this, but what we really needed was this.

Uh, I think that that dual feedback or like, let's call it honest feedback, engineers happen to be very blunt. .

[00:32:39] Ben Lloyd Pearson: Yeah. Yeah.

[00:32:40] Luis Vega: But that's great when it comes to application development because, um, you know that you get a little bit of an unfiltered feedback on the things, and, and I feel like. Having that really, really helped us as a team and me build character.

And built a little bit of a [00:33:00] thicker skin, so that you don't take things personal, and you just know that you're delivering products and, you know, people like them or not.

[00:33:10] Ben Lloyd Pearson: Yeah, so we've talked about a lot of things that you've done, your journey to get here, where you are now. Let's talk about the future.

[00:33:18] Luis Vega: Yes.

What's next for Bloomberg's internal tools?

[00:33:19] Ben Lloyd Pearson: So what you, you have this track record of successfully building these internal tools. Devs want to use them. They, they're excited about these branding opportunities. Uh, what's the next step?

[00:33:32] Luis Vega: More applications for now?

[00:33:34] Ben Lloyd Pearson: No, just more, more, more, more and more.

[00:33:36] Luis Vega: No. Um, I, I move into a new area. Um. Eh, I wanna say last year, um, we didn't, we didn't, I'm gonna say between one and two years I moved to a new, new area and what I'm doing now, it's, I'm leading three different teams.

And basically we're applying on existing applications. So we're applying the techniques of the previous team here and really trying to create that [00:34:00] culture and that same results there. Um, now in here it's more interesting because we have a little bit of customer facing applications now and also internal ones so we really have to balance that out.

There is much more, Risk for disaster. We do things wrong and the customer wants, they have high impact. Um, so I think now what we need to do is we need to learn how to transform existing things. Big things. Before it was a little more smaller. Right now, big things. And see what happens there while developing these teams.

We are also building a little bit of a moonshot application where we're changing the entire model of notification. Um, at the company, um, but, but that's, you know, that's the future. That's my, that's the character on my last slide. Um, but that's probably as much as I can say at the moment. Um, you know, I just, I [00:35:00] just want to keep doing what I, what I like and really start training these managers.

And if you're listening, to be awesome and really to be proud of what they do because they have amazing software and they have so much potential, right? I want to focus a lot on the human development side of things. And really hope that, you know, I'm gambling again. I hope that it works. I hope that that what I do has an impact and they develop to become better and better.

[00:35:29] Ben Lloyd Pearson: Well, you heard it here. If you're an engineering manager at Bloomberg, you should be listening to this podcast and taking Lewis's brilliant words into consideration. So, you know, if I had to summarize, it kind of sounds like what you're saying is, you know, when you started you picked some of these low hanging fruit, like a, a logging,

uh, issue that a lot of developers have, but now it's, it sounds like it's transitioning to more of like an organizational change, right? Like Yeah, like find the bigger projects, the more impactful things, the, the stuff that, you know, might be harder to, to, to take on. [00:36:00] But that that's great. I, and, and I really hope you can get some, some more support behind you.

Well, me too, because , you know. I gotta make it to the other side. . Yeah, . So is, is there anything else that you, you think we've missed that you'd like our audience to know about?

[00:36:16] Luis Vega: You know, we're here in a conference. I do. I wanna mention that and I do feel that getting out of your desk, getting out of your day to day.

to come to these conferences opens your minds so much. And the talks are fun. The talks are interesting. You gather little bits and pieces of all of them. Um, but really the networking side and, and, and walking around to really meet People in your industry, but in all over the world, it really opens your mind.

Yeah, so, so I think the one thing I just wanna add, and it's a little bit situational 'cause we're here in the dome , is that if you're listening to this podcast and you have not been to a technical conference, tell your manager to support [00:37:00]you to go to this, because this is a fantastic way to really grow and, and, and keep developing yourself as an engineer and see.

Out of that laser focus that you probably have on your team, on your things. And it's very refreshing. So, um, yeah, an invitation, I open invitation for people to attend conferences.

[00:37:18] Ben Lloyd Pearson: Trust me, you're, you're preaching to the choir right now. I have long been a fan of the hallway track at events. It's where I've always found the most value.

Just having conversations just like this around coffee or, Whatever else. So, yeah, and I'm 100% with you on that one. Yes. So, so if people wanna follow you or learn more about what you're doing, where do we send them? Yeah,

[00:37:37] Luis Vega: so, um, so social media is, uh, the Wild West out there. , as we know. Um, I did have a Twitter.

I have a Twitter. I kinda like have a tweet there that I'm gonna close my Twitter, but I haven't, but I haven't really posted, I'm there. Luis Vega is my handle in all of them. So I do have. Um, Twitter, LinkedIn, and I guess, [00:38:00] um, that's it for work. Um, I do have a pretty social media presence in YouTube. I'm outside of work.

I'm a travel YouTuber .

[00:38:07] Ben Lloyd Pearson: Oh, wonderful.

[00:38:08] Luis Vega: Um, so you can find me there. Uh, and. I guess if you try all the social medias with Luis Alejo Vega, probably something will come up.

[00:38:17] Ben Lloyd Pearson: Awesome. Well, thank you very much for coming on our show today. This is a wonderful conversation. I love to hear about how Bloomberg is doing all this stuff internally.

So, yeah, thank you.

[00:38:27] Luis Vega: Thank you for the opportunity.