Building Cleo

Brighton Ruby 2023: A Cleo Perspective

In June, Cleo sent eight engineers to Brighton Ruby. Sachin outlines the trip.

A picture of Sachin, a backend engineer at Cleo.

What is Brighton Ruby and Why is it Special?

Brighton Ruby stands out in the tech conference landscape, not just for its picturesque seaside setting in Brighton, UK (the sky was concrete grey the whole weekend but it was still pretty), but for its distinct approach to learning and community engagement. At its core, the event is a celebration of Ruby, a programming language celebrated for its elegant syntax and powerful capabilities, and our backend language of choice here at Cleo.

The conference’s single-track format is, for me, its most defining and well thought-out feature. This approach ensures that each session, whether it's a deep technical dive or an inspirational journey through coding, is experienced by the entire audience together. This fosters a sense of collective learning and community, as everyone shares and discusses the same content. From exploring the intricacies of Rails to delving into lesser-known Ruby frameworks, the talks at the conference cater to a broad spectrum of Ruby enthusiasts, sparking new ideas and discussions.

Cleo Engineers' Highlights

A lot went on at Brighton Ruby 2023. While there were networking opportunities and social… socialising, the talks were definitely the main attraction. Each talk offered a unique perspective, resonating with our Cleo engineers in different ways. Here are our highlights:


My favourite talk was Joe Hart’s New Game talk. It gave me a real sense of nostalgia about my uni days, where I was programming for fun and learning, rather than for generating value.

He made me think about the fact that you can do what you do for work, for fun too. It can be beneficial for your wellbeing.

That, and the fact that his talk featured a Mario game where claps made Mario jump. AND a multiplayer pacman game that got the audience involved. Joe was tweaking the game on the fly, making it easier or harder for himself, and debugged some network issues live, which was pretty impressive!


My pick of the talks was Kaitlyn Tierney’s Librarian’s Guide to Documentation. She gave an interesting perspective on documentation, with some handy hints that we’ve already actioned.

We write documentation whenever we need to at Cleo anyway, so this talk was always going to be a hit.

We use the same tool Kaitlyn mentioned in the talk, so I came away with a better understanding of the potential of notion. I actually suggested Kaitlyn’s wiki-making part of the talk in an action group, and we’ve made changes as a result.


I’d say my favourite was Tim Riley’s Livin’ la Vida Hanami. I found the talk super engaging and the singing was a great touch!

It was interesting to see a framework (that’s not rails) using ruby.

My takeaway was that competition actually keeps the community going, especially amidst chatter that Ruby is a fading language.


My favourite talk was Eileen Uchitelle’s The Magic of Rails. It was super exciting to hear from one of the Rails Core teams, and her talk encouraged me to think deeper about how Rails is architected.

We’ve been discussing Practical Object-Oriented Design in Ruby (POODR) in our Engineering Book club recently; Eileen’s talk came at the perfect time to supplement our learnings, providing fascinating insights into design choices made for large scale projects, and informing our decisions moving forward.

ME! (Sachin)

I was really captivated by Nadia Odunayo’s The Case of The Vanished Variable. The talk’s narrative style drew inspiration from mystery novels, urging listeners to think outside the box in debugging (there’s an awesome twist at the end of the talk). 

Nadia's journey, a woman of colour who is founding, single-handedly coding and being CEO of The Storygraph, left me inspired and with a renewed enthusiasm for my personal projects (I started about four over the next week–just please don’t ask me how they’re going 😭).

All of the talks were recorded and can be watched here


Brighton Ruby 2023 was more than just a conference for our Cleo Engineers (Clengineers (I’m trying to make that a thing)). It was a convergence of learning, inspiration, and having our sense of community reaffirmed. We returned not only with new insights and ideas but also with a renewed enthusiasm for our work and personal projects.

I felt the event really echoed Cleo's culture of continuous learning and widely-scoped support within and across teams. Our experience at Brighton Ruby 2023 serves as a look into how we do things at Cleo. It's not just about writing code; it's about being part of a vibrant, diverse community that continually pushes the boundaries both technically and in terms of company culture. 

As we look forward to future events and opportunities for growth, we carry with us the learnings and inspirations from Brighton Ruby, ready to apply them in our ongoing journeys.

We look forward to the next one as Cleo is sponsoring the event. There will be a bunch of us there if you want to come over and say hi!

Side note: hopefully next year I can be more prepared for the frankly unhingedly-sized seagulls. I still have nightmares about the Chip Diving Incident of ‘23. 

A real image captured of me during the lunch break on the beach.

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