Aslam Khan

Software Developer at FoldLeft


The Humble Programmer
Wednesday 16:05 - 16:50
software delivery

Your rating:

It is relatively easy to express the range of technical capabilities that is good enough to build software reasonably well. Sure, it can generate much debate, but technical ability is the minor part, overall, of being an effective developer. I believe that software solutions can only ever be as good as the people who build them. Reflecting on the last 30 years or so of my career, I have observed that humble programmers are a lot more effective. It doesn't matter if they are working alone, in a small team or with many teams; humility plays a significant part in increasing their effectiveness. In this discussion, I walk through stories gathered from my work and life and what I have learned from others in a humble programmer's journey. In doing so, I extracted a few principles that have served myself and others well and codified a few practices. These complement what we already know but perhaps forgotten or overlooked. Humility affects the lines of code we write, the design decisions we make, and the very nature of a team and engineering organisation. I find that humble programmers create spaces where others are comfortable expressing their creativity and contribution. The consequence is better performance, a better way of working, and increased fulfilment, leading to higher effectiveness. The global software community is still a long distance from being fundamentally equal, inclusive and diverse. We understand the necessity and beneficial side effects of such a society. Humble programmers have a large part to play in shaping that future.


Aslam Khan is an African by birth and a software developer by choice. An entrepreneur, author, presenter, and coach, his career spans over three decades of building businesses, architecting software solutions, and raising high-performing software teams. Grounded in the belief that software solutions can only ever be as good as the people that build them, he has never stopped being an advocate for improving how people interact and work together. At this stage, he enjoys the unexpected ways in which experiences and relationships he has formed on his scenic route through the world of technology are starting to intersect. In recent years, a large part of his time has been invested in building platforms to train up young developers. He believes there's a lot to do and address in our world and work by harnessing technology's power to level playing fields. His commitment is to play his part both as an individual and a capacitor of Africa's youth.