Hello, my name is Riaan Burger, from Johannesburg, South Africa. After training in the sciences and mathematics, I became a teacher, a developer and an entrepreneur. I also ran a series of Goth and darkside nightclubs, building online social platforms for the communities, first as extensions to phpBB, then as a custom CMS. But soon I became convinced that Drupal’s code base was the best on the market. Demand has evolved my one-man company, Burtronix, to where it is today, with ten programmers. We have a flat structure and all work from home, focusing on quality, security and open source (all on Linux). What we love best is being super-productive through innovation. The Drupal project and community are a perfect fit for us; we see Drupal as human-scale software that brings people together and serves diverse and interesting communities.
Board meeting attendence:
Have you served on a board or committee?:
If so, tell us about it.:
Drupal Association South Africa (DASA) board from inception. Travelled the country initiating/facilitating regular meet-ups in all major centres. Steering committee for DrupalCamps in Southern Africa. Condominium/Sectional Title management boards for estates of 300+ housing units. Management boards of clubs and concert promoters for acts touring South Africa.
What perspective will you bring to the board when discussing strategic topics?:
As an experienced developer in open source software; as a small business owner for two decades; and as someone away from the mainstream, involved in promoting Drupal in new and emerging regional markets, I bring a broad and holistic perspective to strategic discussions. I also have considerable experience in fund raising and sponsor management. I am rigorous in drawing up and managing budgets; delivering value to sponsors and participants; securing work flows to ensure wide participation and avoid any one sponsor taking over an event at the expense of smaller sponsors. In this way, I have helped promote the Drupal project and brand as something valuable, people oriented and inclusive. This inclusivity chimes with my philosophy of turning a little money into a lot of value. I see fund raising as one of my most important priorities, to grow the community and to help stabilise the Drupal Association’s budget.
What existing board topics are you most passionate about? and why?:
Sustainability Doing more with less can pay great dividends. I want to enhance the work the Drupal Association does: the community-made tool sets and work flows, documentation and other reference materials have supported many developers and users over the years. Now I welcome the opportunity to contribute to the high level work of strategy and implementation. It was Drupal’s code base that first convinced me but it is these things that have retained me and the many people that form our community. In transforming the financial management of DASA, we have been able to confirm that all activities have remained within budget and now also that financial discipline have been maintained. I will always rely on the expertise of professionals but am also a firm believer that financial health begins at home, and to this end I am on familiar terms with all the Drupal Association financial publications. Growing Drupal & moving forward We should all see ourselves as mentors. Inspiring one person can be immediately beneficial; mentoring a group and uplifting them has knock-on effects that can benefit whole regions - even continents. My hope for Africa (and I am sure this will resonate in other parts of the world) is three-fold: to continue and enhance the supply of our easily referenced documentation and standardised, freely available, community-supporting work flows (see my remarks below); to enable local communities to bootstrap themselves, by providing off-line solutions, alternatives and supporting material they can use to organise and grow in their unique and diverse markets; to have their contributions further recognised on Drupal.org by building out the programmatic work flows and automation of the site and by enhancing easy community participation for remote members through upgrades to groups.Drupal.org. DrupalCon - Because of distances and costs, DrupalCon events are often inaccessible from many parts of the world. The recordings and associated information generated by DrupalCon are great resources but we can expand on this. Two ways that spring to mind are sub-titles (this may lead to there being a module for that); and better indexing and centralisation of the videos on Drupal.org. I look forward to discussions on how we can bring DrupalCon to more people in better ways.
What additional strategic topics would you like to introduce?:
Open Source Advocate I am an open source radical: we understand the need for some closed source components but in most situations I advocate maintaining as open an environment as possible - hence Linux over Mac OS and Windows; LXC/D over VMs or Docker; Mattermost over Slack; GitLab over GitHub, Drupal.org over GitHub etc. and even GPL over BSD licensing. In short, I am passionate about matters of software licensing and community open (libre) freedom. Disclaimer - While these are my personal convictions, my management style is consultative and I am always fully committed to whatever decision is made by my peer group. Practical Missionary Work Problem - South Africa is in the unique position of being both a developed and a developing country economically and technologically. We have insight into both “first world" issues and the struggles of the newly empowered. In countries with poorer infrastructure, bandwidth constraints can prevent you, for instance, from managing your site with GitHub; because of power shortages, people often have to meet physically to swap source code. Solution - A program to supply Drupal.org and other source, documentation, video tutorials and DrupalVM on USB - sent by sneakernet. This has the potential to convert a lot of minds to our ecosystem while the various countries bring their infrastructures up to date to support this nascent Drupal industry. The costs would be small and so long as guidance is provided by the Association local sponsorship and innovation should be able to ensure sustainable expansion in a market with the biggest growth potential.
What unique skills would you bring to the board?:
Among all the other talented and insightful individuals in the Drupal community, I feel that I have a rare skill set, combining programming, financial and people management and communication skills with multiculturalism and understanding of different environments. My leadership style is thoughtful, consultative and flexible but incisive, and I lead by example. People and diversity are the stuff of life; you are not just a programmer or administrator - and it is the person behind that I want to know.
How have your past contributions to Drupal prepared you for board candidacy?:
I have been involved in Drupal for many years. From an ad hoc user group meet-up I motivated and led the formation of DASA (Drupal Association South Africa), with public elections and term limits. The group ethos was to be as inclusive and diverse as possible, and to give more than to take. We facilitated many meet-ups and DrupalCamps in South Africa, and the community here remains healthy. I am also the managing owner of a successful small(-ish) but diverse web development company with good financials.
Why should we vote for you?:
With my broad and deep skill set and the enthusiasm and motivation I bring to everything, I feel that I can not only help sustain the Drupal project going forward but also make a real contribution to broadening and enhancing it. That said, I urge everyone, regardless of whether you vote for me or not, to make an informed choice: read all the profiles - and vote with conviction. Your active participation in the process can only strengthen the community.