18 minutes reading time (3508 words)

Meet Joomla's brand new Advisory Board!


You probably knew Open Source Matters, the organization behind Joomla, has a Board representing all volunteers. We also have a group of experts who help Joomla grow and achieve its goals, by lending us their skills, advising us, guidance, and knowledge. These wonderful people form our Advisory Board, and a brand new one has just started their term. Let’s find out who these people are and where they come from, what skills they bring to Joomla, how they can help Joomla forward and what ideas they have for Joomla’s future!

Could you tell us a little bit about yourself? Who are you, where do you live, what is your background?

Maria: Thank you for the opportunity to communicate with the community that surrounds the Joomla project. My name is Maria Skampoura, I am currently based in the UK. My career began in media and entertainment followed by an entrepreneurial role in the tech sector. I later moved on to digital marketing roles with a strong focus on social media. 

I came across Joomla during the very beginning of the Joomla project in the early 2000s. I was thrilled by the power of Joomla as a content management system and amazed by the concept of Open Source software. Since then, I have helped numerous businesses in their digital transformation journey with the use of Joomla. 

Throughout my career, I have served on boards both as an executive and a non-executive director and had the opportunity to act as a mentor for young entrepreneurs. Currently, I am planning my next entrepreneurial step in the tech sector. When I am not online, I enjoy outdoor activities and traveling.

Scott: I’ve been in UX design for over 40 years, starting with the Macintosh and Newton projects in the early 80s. Working as an independent consultant and then going to London to be UX director for Symbian. I returned to the US to manage the mobile UX team for Google (when mobile was really early and a bit weird) and then was a creative director at frog design in San Francisco. I then worked at two startups and finally returned to Google to run the open source Physical Web project. I’m now semi-retired.

Ahmed: I'm based in Munich, Germany and I've been working in the software industry for 10 years now. I started out as a tooling engineer back in Egypt in a company in the automotive industry, working with simulations and visualizations. Then my open source journey started when I moved to Mozilla to work on Webassembly in Berlin. After that I moved to SAP and worked on developing a datastore using Rust and finally I joined Aiven as an engineering manager for the Open source program office. If I'm not near my machine, I'm probably either playing music on one of a few instruments or playing football outside when the weather allows it.

Sean: I am based in London and I am the co-Founder of LawInSport (built on Joomla), which is a knowledge hub and global community of people providing expert commentary and analysis on the latest legal developments impacting the world of sport. I left school at the age of 16, worked in law firms in finance roles, before studying Sport Science at University as a mature student, and then completed my Graduate Diploma in Law. I am dyslexic, and have a passion for knowledge sharing, technology and making law accessible. I enjoy most sports as you may expect, with a particular interest in boxing, mixed martial arts and climbing. 

Parth:I’m based in Pune & am the co-founder & CEO of Tekdi Technologies & a co-founder of a SAAS learning platform called Vowel. My introduction to Joomla goes back to the Mambo days when as a student in university, I came across this amazing piece of software when me & my cofounder Ashwin helped several Non profits with websites & platforms built using Mambo & later Joomla. 

At Tekdi, we have evolved a way of working which we call as the ‘Spirit of Open Source’ where we strive to contribute back to all the opensource projects we use to build our products & deliver projects. This way of working can be heavily attributed to the work we did with Joomla - both while building Techjoomla our product brand to the SAAS products & Projects we did worldwide leveraging Joomla & own products. Even today across our team of 150 people, while we extensively work with a diverse range of tech stacks across frontend & backend technologies including a lot of work using microservices, Joomla is an important part of our strategy & offerings. At Tekdi we love working with complex problems at scale. We work with players across government, civil society & markets to build technology solutions. We have been part of several population scale tech solutions in India for Resident Identity, Education, Skilling & Capacity building. On the community side, I have been involved in Joomla as a volunteer for a long time. I helped host the first Joomla event in India back in 2009 & have been a founding member of 3 JUGs across the country. I’ve traveled extensively to speak and attend Joomla events & served as the strategic marketing manager of Joomla in the volunteer capacity. Today besides Joomla I am involved in several other open source projects like Sunbird, the DPG (Digital Public Good) that powers the world’s largest education infrastructure. When I’m not working, you can find me on hikes in the mountains or gardening.

Why did you decide to join the Advisory Board of Open Source Matters? 

Maria: I believe in the concept of Open Source software. Throughout my career, I have witnessed how open-source platforms, like Joomla, have democratized access to digital tools. These platforms granted everyone, irrespective of their background or resources, the ability to innovate, create, and share. Open Source Matters is the core of this movement and offers the Joomla project which is a unique platform to influence and advocate for a more inclusive digital landscape.

Another reason is that I believe board collaboration provides an invaluable opportunity to share experiences, learn from diverse perspectives, and work collectively towards shaping the future of OSM and the Joomla project. The role of the Advisory Board is to offer strategic guidance and perspective; this aligns perfectly with my personal and professional vision. I am thrilled to contribute my skills, experience, and passion to drive forward the mission of OSM.

Scott: I’m looking for ways to give back to the community. I’ve been increasing my volunteering roles (e.g. I’m mentoring on ADPList) and Joomla felt like a good fit as it’s not only open source but also encourages individual content on the web. We need more decentralized content on the web.

Ahmed: The more I work in open source, the more I'm into it and the more I see its benefits and leveraging my experience to benefit open source communities became a goal of mine. I want to help communities in different regions understand and get started with open source. I believe that there is a lot of talent in different parts of the world that are just not aware of open source and raising awareness would help them get started.

Sean: Having started my website on Joomla, I quickly was out of my depth in terms of web development, but thankfully I found and joined the Joomla London User Group. I benefited heavily from advice and generosity from the group and the wider Joomla community. I joined the board to help support Joomla! and the community that has given me so much. I will try to provide help and advice where and when needed and draw on my large professional network to help solve problems and help Joomla continue to grow and develop successfully. 

Parth:  I’ve always been an evangelist of Open Source & deeply believe that the world needs open source, community led software like Joomla to ensure that the internet is open, accessible & democratic. Joomla specifically has been great at enabling a large community of developers, integrators & end users to build applications with very little coding & engineering knowledge. If you think about it, its probably the earliest ‘low-code’ ‘no code’ offering. While these terms have become quite the rage now, Joomla has been doing this for years !  Joomla for me has been the very embodiment of open source. It enabled me to start a business, experience working with a global community & in all my volunteer roles has been extremely enriching. Giving Back is a core value for everyone at Tekdi & I wanted to ensure I am doing that for Joomla. I believe that with the right positioning, Joomla has a very bright future, much beyond just building websites but enabling a suite of downstream use cases & applications and enabling the entire ecosystem to grow.I’ve written about it extensively which you can read here . I hope that in my capacity as an advisor, I can help Joomla navigate the changing landscape & achieve its true potential.  One of my short term goals would be get Joomla listed as a Digital Public Good Registry which will bring a lot of visibility to Joomla. 

Why do you think Joomla needs an Advisory Board?

Maria: Joomla is a complex, Open Source Content Management System that expands constantly; this creates the need for a multifaceted approach to oversight strategy, and guidance of the Joomla project. The Advisory Board can be instrumental in fulfilling this need, providing several key benefits to the Joomla project. Additionally, an Advisory board that consists of experts and thought leaders from various sectors can be a source of strategic insight, specialized knowledge, and practical experience that can help Joomla navigate the technological landscape that is changing rapidly. 

Moreover, the Advisory Board can act as a connection between Joomla's core developers, the broader community, and stakeholders. Allowing diverse voices to be heard and considered can help maintain Joomla's democratic and inclusive spirit. Furthermore, the Advisory Board can assist with planning the future of the Joomla project and identifying and managing risk. Being proactive rather than reactive ensures sustained growth and stability. 

Finally, having an Advisory Board amplifies the credibility and professionalism of the Joomla project; this projects a commitment to robust governance, transparent decision-making, and continuous improvement. The Advisory Board should not only be guiding Joomla's present but also securing its future, ensuring that the Joomla project continues to hold a leading position in the open-source community, always addressing the needs of its users as a catalyst for innovation and collaboration.

Conclusively, the Advisory Board for Joomla is the forward-thinking step that acknowledges the complexity and ambitions of the project, aligning it with the best practices in governance, strategy, and community engagement.

Scott: Why does any project need an advisory board? My hope is that the advisory board can give the project useful insights that come from ALL of our collective experience.

Ahmed: I believe different insights coming from different cultures, backgrounds and experiences are what makes any organization thrive and succeed. And that is also the essence of open source: different, diverse people getting together to help solve a problem.

Sean: To help provide support and advice where there may be a need for particular expertise, for example that from a legal perspective. 

Parth: I believe that an advisory board has many roles to play & hats to wear. Specifically in a project like Joomla, it is important to get an outside in view to be able to navigate the markets to succeed. The advisory board can help provide this & help the project scale its adoption, stay relevant & ahead of the curve.

What do you consider the most important responsibility of the Advisory Board?

Maria: I think the most important responsibility of the Advisory Board is to provide strategic leadership. After all it is the role of the Advisory Board to be unbiased, and provide expert guidance that aligns with the values, mission, and long-term goals of OSM and the Joomla project. Of course the Advisory Board should always take into consideration the needs of the community and the technological landscape that evolves constantly.

Additionally, the Advisory board should identify opportunities, understand the industry, foresee potential challenges, and give advice on critical decisions. Other responsibilities of the Advisory Board are fostering growth sustainability and innovation by challenging the existing culture when necessary while respecting its values and ethos. Also, the Advisory board should uphold transparency and ethical conduct, while being inclusive. Decisions should be made with integrity and the best interest of the entire community in mind, rather than catering to specific factions or interests.

Conclusively, the primary responsibility of the Advisory Board is to be the strategic conscience of OSM, and guide it with wisdom, integrity, and foresight, aiming not only to survive the challenges of today but also thrive in the future, while being committed to the core principles that define OSM.

Scott: To point out the longer term opportunities (and risks) to the project so the Joomla leadership can take action.

Ahmed: Help Joomla's leadership with potential opportunities and guidance in the world of FOSS.

Sean: The Advisory Board should be able to provide support, guidance, advice, and be an objective critical sounding board for the OSM leadership. One would hope the diverse perspectives and expertise of the Advisory Board benefit Open Source Matters and the Joomla! project. 

Parth: In addition to what everyone has said above,  I think being honest & frank in its advice without sugar coating it would be an important role for the Advisory board to play.  

What specific skills and experience do you bring to the Advisory Board?

Maria: My diverse background and multifaceted experience has granted me a unique set of skills that can bring value to the Advisory Board of Open Source Matters. Strategic leadership, industry expertise, cross-cultural communication, entrepreneurial insight, commitment to ethical governance, and community engagement are only a few.

More specifically, as I hold an MBA in Finance from the University of Leicester and a Level 7 certificate in Strategic Management and Leadership from the Chartered Management Institute I had the opportunity to lead numerous teams taking over projects involving long-term strategic planning and implementation. As a strong advocate of the Joomla project I have helped numerous businesses in their digital transformation journey with Joomla. This hands-on experience with the Joomla CMS has granted me an immense understanding of Joomla’s strengths and weaknesses.

What’s more, being fluent in English, Greek, German, and Italian, I had the opportunity to work with diverse multinational teams; this enhanced my communication skills and effective collaboration across different cultures. As an experienced entrepreneur I have a keen understanding of risk management, innovation, business development and growth; and have developed an ability to leverage opportunities and navigate challenges. Similarly, my service on various boards as an executive and non-executive director sharpened my governance skills, focusing on transparency, accountability, and ethical decision-making. Likewise, I have a keen interest in the community that surrounds the Joomla project. My community engagement experience aligns with the Advisory Board's role to connect with stakeholders and ensure all voices are heard.

In short, I believe my skills and strengths will allow me to make a meaningful contribution to the Advisory Board, focussing on Joomla's continued growth and success.

Scott: While the majority of my experience is in the corporate world, UX design is universal, it doesn’t matter how you compile the code. However, I’ve been active in the FOSS community for 8 years now and I appreciate how decisions are made in a very different style to the corporate world (e.g. more decentralized with a stronger community focus). I’ve also spoken at FOSSBack on UX and FOSS three years in a row and have had many  excellent conversations about how best to combine FOSS and UX.

Ahmed: I've worked with and led different teams from different cultures and backgrounds. It's a different and enriching experience to work with diverse people on open source and I believe my experience in the area will help advance the project.

Sean: I like to solve problems, and I believe (others may not) that I am an independent thinker, with a wide range of experience from professional services, entrepreneurship, etc . My legal background, and more so my extensive international network of professionals in law and professional services will be helpful to OSM as new challenges arise. 

Parth: With Over 17 years of experience in building with open source and working with  enterprise, government & civil society across the globe I can bring a unique market perspective on what the market needs today. Since we serve the entire stack in an organization - from a developer in an enterprise who uses our libraries & developer first products to C Level professionals who take buying decisions for both Enterprise Projects as well as SAAS offerings, I have a very deep understanding of what various actors want when they take technology decisions. Additionally in my work with other open source projects like Sunbird, I’ve seen a good variety of how different projects approach the problems of community, adoption & scaling. My experience ranges from Business Analysis, Solution Architecture to Product Management & engineering as well as business development & C level experience of running a large software organization.

What part(s) of your job as Advisory Board do you look forward to the most? Why?

Maria: One of the parts of the Advisory Board member role I am eagerly looking forward to is collaborating with fellow board members. The opportunity to engage in collaborative problem solving is very interesting. 

Working closely with a group of people that share different perspectives, experiences, and expertise, is an opportunity to learn from one another and find solutions that are in the best interest of the Joomla project, and the community that surrounds it. Additionally, participating in the efforts that ensure Joomla is a platform that aligns with the expectations of its developers, contributors, and users is really motivating. 

Being part of the Advisory Board is a unique opportunity to contribute to an amazing project that I always supported, and affects the lives of millions.

Scott: Just meeting the rest of the community and learning more about how the project is run. You can only give useful advice if you understand where the team is coming from. There is a lot for me to learn.

Ahmed: I'd say interacting with the community and getting more people onboard and interested in the project.

Sean: Helping to make a positive impact. 

Parth: I think I’ve answered above. But in a nutshell, looking forward to working with everyone on the board & community in general to help position Joomla for achieving its true potential.

Is there anything we should have asked, but didn’t?

Maria: An interesting question could be how the Advisory board thinks Joomla should reach out to audiences outside its own community. I believe that reaching out to new audiences is essential for the Joomla project as this ensures its continuation and adaptability to the constant changes of technology. 

A strategic plan would benefit from conducting a stakeholder analysis to identify key stakeholders outside the Joomla community that demonstrate an interest for Open Source software and are not familiar with Joomla. Another important part of the plan could include forming strategic partnerships with businesses, organizations, open-source communities, and academia to potentially include Joomla in their curriculum. Additionally, engaging with the industry (events, forums, conferences) as well as participating in communication with the public (social media, blogs, webinars) can enhance the project’s growth. Also, government bodies can provide potential opportunities for collaboration on projects of the public-sector or/and advocate for favorable policies to open-source development. Similarly, Joomla can collaborate with other open-source projects and share resources, insights, and best practices; this can lead to technological innovations while strengthening the overall open-source movement. Likewise, the Joomla project can offer support for new users and developers from various backgrounds in order to expand reach beyond the current community. Finally, the strategy could benefit from maintaining a transparent approach to decision-making, focussed on inclusiveness and diversity, encouraging participation and feedback from outside the Joomla community.

By applying a multifaceted outreach strategy to engage with organizations and individuals outside the Joomla community, the Advisory Board can support Joomla’s Outreach Department to enhance Joomla's reputation and adoption, foster innovation, and build a robust and inclusive ecosystem around the project.

Scott: Yes, "Where do you live?". I live in Palo Alto, California, very close to Stanford University. I get the impression that the majority of contributors are vaguely centered around Europe. I get up very early so I should be able to join most video conferencing meetings. I’m also hopeful to travel to Europe next year and would like to meet some of the team in person.

Sean: Not that I can think of. But I am very excited and proud to be able to serve and contribute to the Joomla! project.

Parth: Not particularly! Looking forward to get started :) 

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