Who is Patrick Debois (@patrickdebois) ?

The next person on my WhoIs list is Patrick Debois. I’m not sure when I met Patrick, it was one of the first XP benelux events I attended. Patrick was one of the first people I met with an agile mindset. And yet, it took me a while to realize he was not (only?) a developer. He has been talking for years with such passion about combining developer and operations work. Hell his company is named Just Enough Developed Infrastructure. And then in 2008, he paired on a wonderfull presentation using great youtube video’s I followed from the sideline when he was launching the first DevOpDays in my hometown Gent. For personal reasons I did not join the conference and I still regret it to this day. And I already knew that new agile conferences have a special magic…

What is something people usually don’t know about you but has influenced you in who you are?

I first had a degree in industrial engineering and want to move into computer science. When I applied the guy said that they were skeptic on me pulling of a thesis in their field. So he suggest I’d do my thesis at the Bio Informatics department. At the time Internet was an academic playground, but my promoter saw the great value it and asked me to write a program to expose their entire calculation system to the world. We’re talking 1993! I had all freedom to work and this is how I totally got my love for the Web ever since.

If you would not have been in IT, what would have become of you?

I initially hesitated between Medicine and IT. And wanted to do both because my father was a Doctor and I learned through him that IT can make a difference in any field.
Now I would probably sign up for philosophy or psychology classes, as over the years I know understand the success of projects largely depend on human behavior and understanding.

What is your biggest challenge and why is it a good thing for you?

My current challenge is not running out of capacity. Things are so hectic with all the opportunities and ideas I’m exploring. At days it can really wear me down. But it’s a luxury problem: I often say, even if nobody pays I would probably do the same job. I’m addicted I guess 😉

What drives you ?

I have clear hunger for new information , ideas. Routine is not my game. I enjoy the learning experience the most,  so I tend not to stay too long in the same environment. Sharing that information seems to be the most natural thing.

What is your biggest achievement?

Most people know me probably because of the term ‘devops’. It was not really an achievement as it more of an ‘accident’ that I organized the first conference and called it devopsdays. I never anticipated the effect it has on the IT industry. People are sending me mails , “thank you for changing my job” . That’s about the biggest reward I could get .

What is the last book you have read?

Design Thinking by  Nigel Cross. It’s a fascinating read about analyzing the core-capabilities of designers. I like to explore these kind of  worlds with IT. Seems like they are already moving away from user-centric design to collaborative design; something like that is creeping into IT as well : Open Source, Knowledge websites like Stackoverflow, github. Interesting to learn in analogies.

What question do you think I should also ask and what is the answer?
How about,
Q. “how do you balance your family and your work?”
A. I could really use some tips 🙂

Who do you think I should ask next?

I suggest you contact Steven Noels who is creating Lily a scalable data and content store.

He is one of those Belgian guys with awesome future ideas in IT. We Belgians should be more proud of what we do and take credit for that.

Update: if you liked this, please buy the “Who is agile” book. It contains similar answers from other agilists. And Patrick’s answer to the question: What’s the secret to eternal happiness?