Join Me at Advancing the Careers of Technical Women in Chicago this October

by Angela 29. September 2016 18:42

ACT-W Chicago 2016 is almost here. Haven’t heard of it?  Either had I until about a month ago, which is why I am trying to help them spread the word!

This regional, annual, action-packed event is where talented women can build skills, grow their community, and accelerate their career path! The conference includes speaking sessions, hands-on workshops, one-on-one coaching sessions, and so much more. It is a two-day conference that focuses on providing content that addresses the unique, women in tech landscape here in the Chicago area.

Some important dates and details to put in your calendar:

Kick off Happy Hour

October 13th from 7:00PM to 9:00PM

Holiday Inn Chicago Mart Plaza, River North


ACT-W Conference (more details about ACT-W here, schedule posted here)

Thursday, Oct 13, 2016 7:00 PM to Saturday, Oct 15, 2016 12:00 PM

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology

325 North Wells Street
Chicago, Illinois 60654

The prices are listed below and are really reasonable for all of the value you get, and I have a discount code (speaker20) since I’ll be presenting. Be sure to register soon, and I hope you can make it to my Imposter Syndrome talk Friday afternoon.



All proceeds from our first annual ACT-W Chicago Conference go towards providing STEM education programs to local high school girls through ChickTech.




Get Registered for ST Louis DevUP Before Tickets Sell Out

by Angela 13. September 2016 14:27

You may be thinking, what the heck is St Louis DevUp. Well, previously you may have known this conference as St. Louis Days of .NET.  The conference is about a LOT more than just .NET, and has a shiny, new name to boot. I’m especially excited about the Next Generation Process and Tools track, but I might be biased Winking smile The full session list has been posted, so start marking your favorites, it’s going to be a hard choice this year!

We have some awesome, seasoned speaker talking about agile, scrum, test automation, DevOps, development, data data data, and so much more,  And there are a TON of tracks to choose from:

Web Development JavaScript Development Mobile Development
DevOps Automation & Tooling Data Everywhere! Quick, Yet Correct
The Modern Day Architect Soaring to the Cloud Next Generation Cloud
Next Generation Processes & Tools Career & Soft Skills Cool & Fun




Polaris Solutions Agile Lunch and Learn Series Continues with Rapid Product Development on Sept 28

by Angela 29. August 2016 17:07

You may have noticed that the Chicago Visual Studio ALM user group has been ramping down, and in its place we are ramping up an Agile Lunch and Learn series. This past winter we had a Release Management and DevOps themes event, this Spring we covered SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework), and this Fall we are introducing a talk on Rapid Product Development.  I am really excited about this one, as its a topic near and dear to my agile heart, and the speaker (Zach Beer) is someone who has lived rapid product development for a good portion of his career. Zach is a recent addition to the Polaris family and he has some amazing experiences in the Chicago Startup community to draw from for this talk.  We are so excited to have him on our team, and to be able to bring his expertise to our clients and the community. Check out the details below, and sign up soon if you are interested, we have only 16 spots available for this one. Below are the details…


Agile Lunch and Learn: Rapid Product Delivery

Do you feel like your team is grasping at straws about what your customers want?  Do your customers wait weeks or months for a release that doesn’t address their most pressing needs?

Lots of organizations struggle to find the most effective way to meet their customers’ needs.  Agile processes like Scrum can help organize teams, but they don’t explicitly show teams how to deliver the most value to customers.  In this presentation, we’ll discuss how choosing what you work on is as important as how you work on it, how product development can go sideways, and what strategies your team can use immediately to start delivering value to your customers sooner.

Please join our Agile experts for this free lunch and learn to hear more about how you can transform your company into a high-performance customer-pleasing engine.

Complimentary lunch will be provided to registered attendees.

Seating is limited. Register now!


Event Info

September 28, 2016  11:30 AM – 1:00 PM CDT

Microsoft Office – Downers Grove

3025 Highland Pkwy Suite #200

Downers Grove, IL 60515


clip_image002Zach Beer is an agile strategist and Senior Consultant with Polaris Solutions.  He has spent the last ten years developing software for start-ups around the Chicago area, gaining deep technical and organizational skills applicable to a range of industries and corporate structures.  He specializes in understanding business value and applying that understanding to the process of creating software. A certified scrum master, software architect, and speaker, he is passionate about helping people and companies reach their potential.


Polaris Solutions, LLC

Polaris Solutions is an Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) consulting firm. We specialize in helping teams deliver high value software through technical leadership, process improvement, and software development expertise.




Agile | Scrum | Software Development Lifecycle Management | ALM | Application Lifecycle Management | Product Development


Coming to ThatConference Game Night? We have exciting news to share

by Angela 4. August 2016 13:42

Hope you have all of your gear charged, packed, and ready to go to ThatConference next week! I’m packing the family truckster up with supplies for blinging out your badge, badge ribbons including some awesome new designs that I was able to find at Name Badge Productions, and a handful of board games.  “What now, just a FEW board games? Are you feeling OK?” you ask…  Well, let’s reminisce a bit.

Remember our very first board game night. Awwww, the library was so petite and manageable, and we had maybe 8 or 9 tables of people playing games.

WP_000528  WP_000519


Over the years, word spread, more and more people contributed their own games to the cause, and by our 5th year our crowdsourced library had grown quite a bit and managing it became a full time job (mostly for my super sweet husband who tracked everything in his homegrown board game checkout system). And you guys loved game night so much that we had to bring in half a dozen EXTRA tables. I loved it. But I knew now that we needed some serious help!

WP_20150810_043 WP_20150810_050


SO WHAT DOES THIS MEAN ANGELA????  Have no fear, board game night is still on!!  C’mon I wouldn’t leave you hanging like that. But this year the Dugans are not bringing their entire board game library. I found an awesome local board game store located in beautiful Appleton Wisconsin called Boardlandia. The awesome folks at Boardlandia generously offered to sponsor board game night by supplying and running the board game library! So now David and I can spend more time playing games and hanging out with all of you, and you get more games to choose from to boot! I hear they’ll also have some great games for purchase if you play anything that you really want to take home. They carry hard to find games, kids games, family games, and they even sell used games!  Please be sure to stop by Game Night on Monday after the first day’s sessions end.  Meet Boardlandia, and have a chance to play some great games with your family, friends, and maybe some fellow campers you haven’t had a chance to meet yet!

We’ll certainly bring a few favorites so feel free to bring a few yourself because EVERY night can be game night at ThatConference. Can’t wait to see you all at the Kalahari in the Wisconsin Dells next week Smile


About Boardlandia

Boardlandia’s mission is to make great games accessible and affordable for everyone. They have thousands of board games to choose from with new titles coming out every month. At Boardlandia, they pride themselves on cultivating a collection that has well-reviewed titles, exciting new games, and a sprinkle of some old favorites. Their store is located in Downtown Appleton, inside the City Center Plaza on the first floor.


Breaking news!!! Boardlandia will deliver web orders that night too, so check out what they have in stock and place your orders today for Monday delivery during the conference. How cool is that?!



Navigating the Scaled Agile Framework–FREE Lunch and Learn With Polaris Solutions

by Angela 24. June 2016 15:15

With so many agile-based process frameworks and methodologies out there, it’s hard to know where to begin. And just when everyone seems to be warming up to agile, here comes SCALED agile, there are even multiple scaled agile frameworks!

But how is SAFe different than agile? When is it appropriate to start looking at SAFe strategies and practices for your team and your organization? Does using the SAFe framework prevent a company from having effective scrum teams? How big or complex do you need to be for SAFe to make sense? Isn’t SAFe just a glorified version of waterfall that companies adopt when they can’t handle “real” agile? I run across all of these questions when talking to clients, coworkers, and other technologists.

We have found that SAFe leverages the best pieces of a number of different agile frameworks, including Lean, Kanban, and scrum. SAFe is certainly intended for large, enterprise customers delivering extremely complex and interdependent systems, but that doesn’t mean you cannot take away some great practices and strategies for even smaller organizations with just a handful of teams. Since becoming a SAFe program consultant, Zaneta and I have coached a number of our customers on improving their software development and delivery processes leveraging practices and techniques from SAFe.

In this interactive session, we plan to quickly walk through the tenets of SAFe, share some of our learnings with you, and help you to understand when and how SAFe can benefit your team! We will also walk through how VSTS and TFS can support SAFe processes with its newer process templates and customizable experiences!

When: Tuesday, June 28, 2016 from 11:30 AM to 1:00 PM (CDT)
Where: Microsoft Midwest District - 200 East Randolph Street #200, Chicago, IL 60601 - View Map


Seating is VERY limited so sign up today! https://www.eventbrite.com/e/navigating-the-scaled-agile-framework-lunch-and-learn-with-polaris-solutions-tickets-18210911326 


Polaris Solutions is custom application development, Application Lifecycle Management (ALM), and DevOps consulting firm. We specialize in helping teams to continuously deliver high value software through technical leadership, process improvement, and software development expertise.

Find out more about us at: http://polarissolutions.com/



Chicago Coder Conference is Next Week! Hope to see you there

by Angela 1. June 2016 16:41

There are a lot of conferences in Chicago this summer, well I suppose technically it’s still spring but from these temps you’d never know it! Anyway, I was invited to speak at Chicago Coder Conference this year (not to be confused with the awesome CCC = Chicago Code Camp conference), and I’d never really considered it before.  With all of the other conferences I am involved in and speaking at, it just hadn’t made the cut. I recently checked out their session list and holy cow are there some great people speaking, including a few of my coworkers. There is even a full day of hands-on sessions where you can dig in deep. It’s an seriously action-lacked 3 days. A few of the bigger names you might recognize are Doc Norton, Uncle Bob Martin, and Joel Tosi.

Now I’d be remiss if I didn’t bring up the great topics being presented by some of the folks at Polaris Solutions, including yours truly:


Steven Contos

June 7, 2016 - Session 1 – Coding the Most Complex “Hello World” Program Ever Written and More Hyperbole

Room 600 from 10:00 AM  -  11:00 AM

Florin Ciobanu

June 6, 2016 - Session 1 – Xamarin! The Babel Fish in the Developer’s Guide to the Mobile Apps

Room 621 from 10:00 AM  -  11:00 PM

Kevin Fitzpatrick

June 6, 2016 - Session 4 – Dear Coder: The Problem is Over Here!

Room 600 from 2:30 PM  -  3:30 PM

Angela Dugan

June 7, 2016 - Lunch & Learn – Improve your Retrospectives with Agile Kaizen!

Room 621 from 12:15 PM  -  1:15 PM

June 7, 2016  - Session 4 – Deconstructing the Scaled Agile Framework

Room 404 from 2:30 PM  -  3:30 PM


It’s not too late to sign up, and I may still have some discount codes I can share if you want to get in on it.  If you are interested, hit me up through the contact link on my blog for more info!

And while you’re in the mood to check out AMAZING local conferences, be sure to check out ThatConference!  I wrote a blog post about it here, including a great overview and some pictures. Check it out.  Hope to see you at Chicago Coder Conference next week, and at ThatConference in August!


Chicago Code Camp 2016–A Recap

by Angela 12. May 2016 20:03

If you made it out to Chicago Code Camp 2016 then I don’t have to tell you that it was an AWESOME day! It may have been rainy and cold outside, but inside it was action packed and full of surprises. 2 of our local community members brought their HoloLens devices, and I even got to try one out. A friend of mine even shot a short video of my keynote, including the proverbial “elephant in the room” – Imposter Syndrome. I saw lots of friendly faces from years past, made some new connections, and had a lot of really great conversations in the halls, at the booth, and even via Twitter.

Polaris is proud to support a great conference like Chicago Code Camp, and it was great to have the opportunity to chat with so many awesome local technologists! Whether or not you realize it, we really do enjoy when people stop by the Polaris Solutions booth to chat with us, allowing us to share our experiences and maybe even do a bit of quick problem solving! So thank you for making our day that much more fun. If you didn’t quite have enough time to ask us your burning questions, or if you thought of something you’d like to ask us about our company, job openings, or consulting services, please drop me a line any time.

I also wanted to say thank you to everyone who made the day a great one – the attended, speakers, volunteers, organizers, and all of the other sponsors too.


Below are links to the talks that were given by our folks at Chicago Code Camp. So even if weren’t able to come see us speak, you might be interested in seeing what you missed Smile

Keynote talk on Imposter Syndrome by Angela Dugan – http://www.slideshare.net/angelabinkowski/chicago-code-camp-2016-keynote-fear-and-selfloathing-in-it

Improving Your Retrospectives with Agile Kaizen by Angela Dugan – http://www.slideshare.net/angelabinkowski/chicao-code-camp-2016-improve-your-retrospectives-with-agile-kaizen

Xamarin! The Babel Fish in the Developer’s Guide to the Mobile Apps by Florin Ciobanu – https://onedrive.live.com/redir?resid=AC52CB313CD13EBC!677&authkey=!AEbVYnbvFx8ayNk&ithint=folder%2cpptx

Coding the most complex “Hello World” program ever written and more Hyperbole by Steven Contos - http://www.slideshare.net/StevenContos/polaris-presentation-chicago-code-camp-2016


2016-04-30 09.50.09

*Alas when we took this I couldn’t track down Zaneta, maybe someone could Photoshop her in here!

Hope to see you at next year’s Chicago Code Conference!



POWERFUL Beyond Measure–Free Workshop in Chicago on May 12th hosted by IAMCP WIT

by Angela 25. April 2016 19:17

A little background in case you’re thinking “oh god, ANOTHER freaking workshop for women on networking and empowerment” ::cue an eye roll that could cause a tidal wave::  This one is different, no really. Why do *I* know this? Because the woman running it is my career/life coach. And I was SUPER skeptical about seeing a life coach until the opportunity to try out a session for free fell into my lap at a conference. I had an intense first session with her, then never looked back! You see, I’ve been struggling with a lot of my own inner demons lately, a good number self-summoned, a similar number not. And in just a few months I’ve managed to find a lot more joy in my work, and a lot more courage to do the things I really want to do. So I know this lady means business.  She has made a huge difference in how I live my life and how I manage my career, and I am betting that in just this short time she’ll start you off on a similar path. I really hope you can make it!



You are a beautiful, brave, powerful woman. You are. You may not feel it today, but that doesn’t make it any less true. And, when you unleash your power (in a self-supportive way – not the dominating others  kind of power), you will feel surprisingly more in charge of your life and future. It can feel like people and circumstances stand in the way of getting what you want. Have you ever said, thought or felt any of these:

  • If X would happen, then things would be better (examples of X include lose weight, get promoted, make more money, get married, kids go to bed on time, co-workers pull their weight, etc.)
  • Because I have to
  • My boss doesn’t understand me
  • That’s just the way it is
  • He never does his part, and I have to do it or cover for him
  • I didn’t get picked for the good project
  • Why her and not me
  • If I were in charge...
  • I wish someone would ask what I think


If your answer is yes, then (a) congratulations on being human; and (b) all of these are statements that give away power. As women, we notoriously give our power away, which creates this vicious cycle of feeling less empowered,  giving more power away, feeling even less empowered and so on. Let’s stop this cycle and take our power back!

  • While I will facilitate, you are going to find out about you …
    Why and how you give power away
  • What you can do to keep your power
  • How to start using your power right away
  • We are going to learn, practice and grow together


REGISTER AT http://bit.ly/1SqTf5g

Date: Thursday, May 12th

Time: 8:30am-11:00am CST

· 8:30-9:00am – Breakfast and Networking

· 9:00-10:30am – Presentation/Workshop

· 10:30-11:00am – Q&A and Networking

Location: Microsoft AON Center | 200 E. Randolph St. Suite 200, Chicago IL 60601


SPEAKER BIO: Laura Weber is a leadership coach and consultant, working with various industries, teams  and individuals. She roots her  technique in authenticity and  courage, and views transformation  as a set of practices – something we approach and make decisions about each day. Since courage is a hallmark practice for her, she never asks her clients to do something she hasn’t already done or is willing to do herself.



Parking is pricey in the city so please don't overpay for it. SpotHero has some great parking very near to the Aon Center for as little as $10, I use them and I love the service!




Chicago DevOps Community Roadshow–April 2016 Recap

by Angela 22. April 2016 09:41

Last week myself and some of my favorite community leaders and MVPs were able to deliver a free community event focusing on DevOps practices and tools thanks to the generosity of Microsoft. Not only did Microsoft provide the great venue for free, but they also supplied the funding that covered a great hot breakfast, beverages, and a Microsoft Band 2 for the raffle!

2016-04-15 07.26.31

We had over 100 people register, and people started trickling in early. We had a surprising number of enthusiastic attendees already seated and ready for Jim’s 8:30am keynote!

2016-04-15 08.37.10

Next we had some great talks by Landan, Erik, Chris, Min, and Greg. Topics included continuous integration with Visual Studio and TFS 2015, environment provisioning and DSC with Azure, release management with TFS RM and Octopus Deploy, and metrics and monitoring with Application Insights and SonarQube.

2016-04-15 08.50.042016-04-15 09.43.392016-04-15 10.54.122016-04-15 11.22.08


There was a lot of great discussion, some awesome demos, and everyone had a great time. Thanks again to my rock star team - Eric Boyd, Landan Rotter, Angela Dugan, Greg Levenhagen, Chris Taylor, Jim Szubryt, and Min Maung - who seems to not really like any of us enough to stand next to us Smile

2016-04-15 12.57.28-1

Slides from the event are still being uploaded, but you’ll be able to access everything here. Thanks again for attending, and if you didn’t make it and would like to learn more about any of these topics, shout at me on email (via the link at the bottom of this blog post) or twitter and I’ll connect you with the right people!


Preliminary Chicago Code Camp Schedule is Up!

by Angela 14. April 2016 08:01

Hey campers, I hope you’re registered for Chicago Code Camp on April 30th. If not, get on over there and sign up for a great day of tech! It’s free, it’s fun, and we’d love to see you there.

Remember last year when you tried to get into that one SUPER popular session and there were people out the door? And then you went to that other session (like one of mine) and it was in an enormous room but only 20 or so people were there? Yeah, it happens because we were trying to guess how many people would show up for certain sessions, and we were close but didn’t get them all right.  We want to do better this year!

Once you get registered, be sure to review all of the great speakers and sessions and start thinking about what you might want to go see that day, then click the star next to your favorites  In case you missed my blog post about marking your favorite sessions, we still need your help planning out the day. We’ve started playing calendar Tetris to find the best possible time slots for each session, and we’re basing what times and which rooms each session will land in based on how many people hope to attend it. So while we have posted a preliminary schedule, we will keep using your votes to make changes to make sure that you can attend as many of your favorite sessions as possible. . Of course, we can’t help it if you want to attend multiple sessions in the same slot, we don’t have THAT kind of technology yet, but Min and Lwin are probably working on it Smile

OK, now stop reading and go register for CCC 2016 and favorite some sessions!


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