A Q&A with Jen on the PHPBenelux Conference

A Q&A with Jen on the PHPBenelux ConferenceMagma Digital attended the PHPBenelux Conference again this year, with Jeremy and Jen being the lucky members of the Magma crew that travelled to Antwerp, Belgium. The event is always superbly organised by the lovely PHPBenelux user-group, which ensures it is well attended by interesting, inquisitive PHP Developers.

This meant Jeremy and Jen were really looking forward to the event and we are happy to report that PHPBenelux exceeded all expectations, with the Magma duo thoroughly enjoying their time there. Jen kindly agreed to a question and answer session on her experience there, so please keep reading to find out her thoughts on the conference (and Belgian beer)!

What was your favourite talk and why?

For me, I would have to say that Elizabeth M. Smith’s opening keynote was my favourite talk at PHPBenelux. Her talk was about the importance of mentorship, not just for the mentee but the mentor too. For example, how a mentor can learn from their mentee and for mentors to remember what it was like when they didn’t know what they do now. It put things into perspective at Magma Digital, as I am still learning and trying to find my feet as a developer. Not knowing what is out there can be daunting at times, so to hear that this is the norm and that every developer has those feelings has helped me realise that I am not alone.

I am new to the PHP community so I found this talk to be of particular interest, especially as I come from a non-programming degree background. I found the talk positive and uplifting (I liked the funny slides with the cats) and as a female in the community I could relate to some of her feelings and experiences. This talk was understandable for any level of developer and if it was a topic that more advanced developers had heard before, it was still a pleasant reminder of where they all started. It was definitely an inspiring and engaging talk!

What new things did you learn?

One of the main things I learned at PHPBenelux is that they are so welcoming for people to be a part of their community. I was introduced to a few women in the PHPWomen community, so when I joined their channel on an online chat-room it meant I was already acquainted with a few of them. I have found this very useful as I am able to keep abreast of activities in the PHPWomen community.

I feel that my self-confidence as a developer grew over the two day conference. I attended Juliette Reinders Folmer’s ‘The Big “Why equal doesn’t equal” Quiz’ and found that I had scored well considering my experience level.

Who inspired you?

Elizabeth M. Smith. I really like how she approaches her talks as she is motivating and engaging. She can hold an audience’s interest, whilst always taking care to explain and define anything that you might not know. I was impressed with how she broke down the technical jargon to ensure the subject matter was accessible to a varied audience whilst simultaneously keeping the content rich and engaging. Furthermore, it was great to see females in the industry share their experiences.

Did you try anything new? (Like the beer!)

I loved the Duvel beer and can definitely see why it is one of Belgium’s favourite ales! :) This was my first two day conference as a delegate and I enjoyed the social events on both Friday and Saturday. Speaking to numerous members of the community was a great way for me to build my confidence and professional network.

Beating the boss at a game of air hockey is a fond memory but the highlight was definitely the bumper cars, despite all the soreness and bruising the next day!

Would you recommend this conference to others?

I think they have a great selection of speakers and the facilities/events are great. The conference is suitable for any level of developer and I cannot recommend it highly enough!


Magma would like to say a massive thank you to the organisers of the conference for outdoing themselves once again. We really appreciate the effort put in and hope everyone is now looking forward to our own conference, PHPNW14, which will be taking place in early October. Watch this space!

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