Getting to know the board

Introducing Shane Miller

by Shane Miller, Member Director, AWS

Over the next five weeks, we'll be running a series called "Getting to know the board", publishing blog posts from each member of the Rust Foundation Board of Directors, introducing them to the community. You can view the posts in this series here.

Hi, Rustaceans! My name is Shane Miller, and I lead the Rust Platform team at AWS. I have been creating my own unique career path (maxing out my weirdness budget) for about 30 years. I have been a high school dropout, Smalltalk principal engineer, university math faculty, retail business owner, political consultant, engineering manager, and Principal Technical Program Manager and Senior Engineering Manager at AWS.

At AWS, we evaluate everything using our leadership principles, and my favorite principle is, “Leaders are right a lot. [...] They seek diverse perspectives and work to disconfirm their beliefs.” The best thing about working at AWS is the seemingly infinite opportunities to “disconfirm my beliefs”, and my sense is that this principle is a guiding force in the Rust community as well. That’s one of the things that makes me want to contribute to the future success of Rust.

I am an accidental leader for Rust at AWS. I started down this road in 2019, trying to solve my own problem. I was building a new engineering team that had developed a prototype in Rust, and the only way we could successfully deliver our goals was to both grow our team and our Rust expertise. Some of you have received cold calls or emails from me ;)

In January of 2020, my engineers and I decided to host an internal Rust workshop, so we could meet the AWS Rust community. I reserved a room for 30 people, and we sent out an internal survey to find out how many engineers would be interested in attending. The response was hundreds of engineers wanted to attend and dozens wanted to use the opportunity to give a talk about their own Rust work at AWS!

My engineers and I became internal Rust community organizers at AWS. We coordinate a talk series called “A Slice of Rust,” host what amounts to company-wide sprint demos called “A Drink to Rust,” support Rust office hours, build and host Rust workshops, and facilitate Rust engineer recruiting. And all of that has paid off - not just for our team - but for all of Rust at AWS.

We did grow our team, by the way, and we started a new one. We created a team focused on Tokio, and more recently, we expanded the team’s charter and hired key Rust maintainers to continue to work in collaboration with the larger Rust community.

As a director on the Foundation's Board, I envision the Foundation becoming an organization that provides the Rust project maintainers with the support I provide my own AWS team. We make Rust truly accessible when we eliminate maintainer out-of-pocket costs for compute, storage, and productivity tools. We can also provide access to resources like leadership and communication training that could help Rust maintainers grow themselves and their teams.

What I’m excited about with the Foundation is that it gives me a mechanism to contribute to our community in different ways. I have a lot of experience delivering software at massive scale. I was a Principal Technical Program Manager at AWS before I returned to the engineering manager role. I launched services that spanned organizations and geographies. I know how hard it is to be successful with a combination of complexity and scale, and I am looking forward to helping our community simplify some of those complexities. In the words of Seth Godwin, “What do we do for a living? [...] what we do is we try to change everything. [...] we try to find a piece of the status quo - something that bothers us, something that needs to be improved, something that is itching to be changed - and we change it. We try to make big permanent, important change.” Let’s build community and technology that outlast us all.