Company name: Umbrella
Job Role: Technical Director
Country: United Kingdom
For how long have you been working with Umbraco? Since 2007, Umbraco v3.0.3!
What's your favourite Umbraco moment?
I would struggle to pick just one moment from the past 13 years. Taking a whistle-stop of selected highlights… My first Codegarden in 2009 opened my eyes to the wider community and ecosystem. My first MVP award in 2010, at the same Codegarden where I met Matt Brailsford (who I went on to produce numerous popular packages with), and also met Rich Green (who I went on to form Umbrella with).
There was also the Razor vs XSLT death metal pillow fight at CG11, and the time I missed collecting my MVP award (at CG14) because I stayed up all night coding, (okay, partying), and the success of uComponents showing what a collaborative project could be, and helping to run umBristol user-group for over 10 years, and all the great times at CODECABIN, and celebrating my tenth MVP award, (much to the annoyance of my fellow multi-winning MVPs - “Oh, I wish he’d stop going on about it now!” I hear them cry.) ❤
What in your Umbraco career are you most proud of?
It would have to be the Carlsberg projects. Between 2013 and 2019, we (Umbrella) were an integral part in how Carlsberg democratised their digital marketing strategy. Building a platform that became the basis for their 500 brand websites, (realistically, it was about 100 brands, each with between 1 to 40 markets and languages). Our original remit was to build the initial framework then hand it over to a larger agency, however, we performed so well that we continued to work with Carlsberg for over 5 years. In fact, I’ve heard that Umbrella holds the record as Carlsberg’s longest tenure for the smallest supplier (in terms of company size).
What about Umbraco keeps you coming back for more?
The cliché answer is the community, I love the people, made lifelong friends. The real answer is the CMS itself, the flexibility and intuitiveness it provides content editors is excellent. No other CMS that I have used has come close to the level of customisation and extensibility that I can achieve with Umbraco CMS.
What are you currently working on?
As the COVID-19 pandemic was kicking in, I was finishing off delivering a portal website for STEM charity EngineeringUK, this was in collaboration with creative agency Clearleft, (I can’t share the link yet as it’s in private beta phase), it was our first major Umbraco 8 project, delivered on time and within budget, with a very happy client. Now we find ourselves in the middle period of COVID-19, things aren’t as good, new project leads appear to have ground to a halt. I remain hopeful that we’ll see client projects being greenlit in the coming months.
What are your top 3 best tips for an Umbraco newbie?
Most people share a similar sentiment for this question… training courses, community, forums, meetups, etc. I don’t have 3 top tips, more that if you’re new to a technology, appreciate that you do not know everything, even Umbraco CMS does have a learning curve. Once you’ve got an understanding of the Umbraco CMS, it’s important to stay curious, to question why certain things are, and to challenge the status quo.
Any aspirations for your future?
For the past year or so, I have been building on an Umbraco package called Contentment. It draws from all my learnings with Umbraco CMS and client projects. A lot of time, effort, and energy have been invested in it. Having experienced burnout in the past from supporting free open-source packages, I am interested in how we – as a community - could make package development sustainable. One avenue that I’m currently exploring is GitHub sponsors program: https://github.com/sponsors/leekelleher
What is on your desk at work?
I have a minimalistic desk – the usual – laptop, monitor, keyboard, mouse, notepad, and pens. In terms of “flair”, I have a few coasters with pictures of nostalgic movies – Back to the Future, E.T., and Jaws – I love Spielberg movies.
What series are you watching now?
Over the past year, I have been working through watching all of Parks and Recreation with my daughter. It is scary how much I relate with Ron Swanson 😳
Do you have a hidden talent?
It is not really a hidden talent, as a lot of people in Umbraco-land already know this, I play bass guitar in a band. We mostly do covers of 90s/2000s rock songs, but over the last year, we have written our own songs and are currently recording an album. Yes, this is my midlife crisis dad band moment.
What an inspiring Umbraco journey, Lee! 😍 And if you’d like to connect with him, reach out on:
👉 Twitter, for micro chats
👉 LinkedIn, for professional connections
👉 Github, for anything code-related
👉 Lee's website for anything else
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