Managers Club, Interviews and Resources for Engineering Managers
By Vidal Graupera
Join host Vidal Graupera, as he sits down with top engineering managers from leading tech companies to discuss the challenges and triumphs of managing engineering teams. Each episode provides valuable insights and practical tips for anyone looking to enhance their management skills. In addition to interviews, the Managers Club podcast features resource segments to help you stay up-to-date on the latest tools and trends in the industry. Tune in to level up your management game.
How I Went from Engineer to Manager Overnight, Lessons Learned
In this interview, we follow the journey of Swathi Sundar, an engineering manager at Benchling and ex-Uber, who, as a tech lead, was suddenly made an engineering manager overnight. Through her personal experiences, Swathi shares the challenges and lessons she learned during this transition period. From managing expectations and leading a team to deal with the pressure and responsibilities of the new software engineering manager role, this video offers valuable insights for anyone looking to move into a management position in the tech industry. Watch now to learn how she navigated this sudden change and emerged as a successful engineering leader. Swathi also shares her strategies for effectively communicating with her team and stakeholders, as well as how she adapted to the new responsibilities and expectations that come with being an engineering manager. Swathi covers growing a new tech lead. Finally, she also provides tips on transitioning to a new company as an engineering manager. This video is a must-watch for anyone looking to transition smoothly from an engineering role to a management role in the tech industry. With Swathi's personal experiences and practical advice, you'll gain valuable insights on navigating this challenging but rewarding journey. CHAPTERS 0:00 Introduction 0:20 How Swathi became a manager overnight 1:02 How big was your team and what did you do? 2:50 What are some things that you quickly had to get up to speed with on management? 4:48 Growing a new tech lead 6:13 Difficulty letting go.... 7:44 Resources that helped you become a manager '9:13 New relationship with direct reports 12:28 Changes during COVID pandemic 15:50 Performance management 16:39 Final lessons from Uber 18:17 Moving to a new company 21:03 Additional advice on transitioning to be a manager at a new company 22:23 Managing sideways and up 25:00 Do you miss coding? 26:10 Engineers, code engineering managers write. 29:55 Parting advice RESOURCES https://www.linkedin.com/in/swathisundar/ You're in Charge — Now What?: The 8 Point Plan : https://amzn.to/3wsxTiG Swathi's writings on medium: https://swathi-sundar.medium.com/ ABOUT ME: I'm Vidal, an author, podcaster, and engineering manager working at LinkedIn in the SF Bay Area. I am on a mission to help and inspire engineering leaders everywhere! MY BOOKS ⭐️ The Software Engineering Manager Interview Guide https://amazon.com/dp/B086JMXP28 ⭐️ Time Management Tips for Engineering Managers https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08HM6LSCL ⭐️ How to Write an Engineering Manager Resume, https://vidalgraupera.gumroad.com/l/esbgw CONNECT WITH ME ⭐️ My website: https://www.managersclub.com ⭐️ LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/vidalgraupera ⭐️ Twitter: https://twitter.com/vgraupera ⭐️ ManagersClub LinkedIn Group: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/13846374/ ⭐️ TikTok: https://tiktok.com/@managersclub #engineeringmanagement #leadershipdevelopment #womenintech
January 24, 2023
How to Run Successful Daily Scrum Meetings
Ron Lichty, Interim VP of Engineering, SW Dev Advisor, Agile consultant, and author, shares tips and best practices for conducting effective stand-up meetings. Also known as daily scrums, stand-ups are a crucial way for teams to stay on track and communicate with each other. In this conversation, Ron covers common misconceptions about stand-ups, the frequency of stand-ups, how to make them effective, the best time of day for stand-ups, and more. Whether you're a team leader or a team member, these tips will help you get the most out of your stand-up meetings. Plus, learn about the Fist to Five technique and how to make stand-ups more engaging and interactive. Don't miss this valuable video on stand-up meetings! Episode transcript: https://managersclub.com/how-to-run-daily-scrum-meetings/ RESOURCES ⭐️ https://www.linkedin.com/in/ronlichty/ ⭐️ https://ronlichty.com/ ⭐️ https://managingtheunmanageable.net/ #scrum #agile #projectmanagement
January 03, 2023
What is Emotional Intelligence & How to Increase EQ
We discuss emotional intelligence and how to improve your EQ with Phil Johnson, a coach, and authority on leadership and EQ. EQ is a potent tool that can aid in your leadership success. If you're interested in learning more about emotional intelligence, check out this video! We'll discuss everything you need to know about emotional intelligence, from the definition to how to increase your EQ. By the end of this video, you'll have a better understanding of what emotional intelligence is and how you can use it to your advantage! Transcript: https://managersclub.com/what-is-emotional-intelligence-how-to-increase-eq/
December 13, 2022
How Leaders Should Think About Artificial Intelligence and What They Should Do
Many business leaders struggle to wrap their heads around artificial intelligence and what it could mean for their companies. In this episode, Kavita Ganesan, author of The Business Case for AI, will explore how leaders should think about AI and what they should do to ensure that their companies are prepared for the future. We'll also bust some of the most common AI myths and show how businesses can benefit from AI. So if you're a leader who wants to stay ahead of the curve, this video is a must-listen! The Business Case for AI: A Leader’s Guide to AI Strategies, Best Practices & Real-World Applications: https://amzn.to/3GLJmjM
November 28, 2022
How to be BELIEVABLE & DECISIVE: Key qualities of effective leadership
To be an effective leader, you need to be believable and decisive. In this video, Sabry Tozin, Vice President of Engineering at LinkedIn, explains "believability," which is an important part of being a good leader. He also discusses how and why it is important to be decisive. We'll also show you how to avoid the mistakes that can cost you dearly. So if you're ready to make tough choices that will improve your leadership and believability, this video is for you!
November 22, 2022
SURVIVAL GUIDE FOR NEW MANAGERS: A Guide for Millennials
Emily Tsitrian, a former manager at Stripe and author of "Make Me the Boss," takes us through what it takes to be a successful new manager in the corporate world. If you're a millennial looking for tips on being a successful manager, this video is definitely for you! We'll outline everything you need to know to be a successful manager and lead your team to success! We cover a wide range of topics, including the challenges and different responsibilities of being a manager, how to offer difficult feedback, how to manage people who are older than you, how to deliver the performance review of a lifetime, how to use public speaking to create your personal brand and more. These are all essential skills that any successful manager needs to have. By the end of this video, you'll have everything you need to survive as a millennial manager in the corporate world!
November 14, 2022
How to Advocate for your Team: Everything You Need to Know with Mallika Rao
Mallika Rao, engineering manager at Twitter, explains what it means to advocate for your team and how to do it effectively. She shares her perspective and tips on the promotion process, how to develop strong promo packets, why to be aggressive on promotions, working with committees, and many other tips for advancing your direct reports' careers as engineers. This podcast is a must listen if you're looking to be an effective advocate and earn the loyalty of your team! We also discuss hiring and managing multiple teams and remote and cross-geographical team-building.
November 07, 2022
Tips for Success as an Engineering Manager, José R. Arzuaga — Staff Engineering Manager, GitHub
In this conversation, José R. Arzuaga - Staff Engineering Manager, GitHub, covers important tips for success as an engineering leader. We discuss the importance of advice for managers starting out, time management, diversity, hiring, uncomfortable feedback, how you would find a good mentor, book recommendations, and how to create an effective team. This video is a must-watch if you're thinking about becoming an engineering manager or are already in a leadership role. By following these tips, you'll be able to lead your team to success and achieve your goals!
October 31, 2022
How to Address Bias and Improve Diversity —Tacita Morway, CTO at Textio
Learn how to address bias and improve workplace diversity with Tacita Morway's advice. As CTO at Textio, she is on the front lines of addressing discrimination and improving diversity. In this inspiring talk, Tacita shares her experiences with bias and offers practical advice for improving diversity in the workplace. She advises how to build a pipeline, interview in a non-biased way, the pitfalls of referral programs, and more. We uncover reasons underrepresented minorities, women, and marginalized groups often get stuck at the bottom of the hierarchy and leave and what we can do about it. This talk is a must-watch if you're looking for ways to make your workplace more inclusive.
September 15, 2022
Engineering Management Lessons, Things You Need to Know, Dana Sherrell, VP Engineering
Watch on YouTube In this video, Dana Sherrell, VP of Engineering at Boulevard, shares some of her most important lessons about engineering management. This video is a must-watch if you’re thinking about becoming an engineering manager or are already in a leadership role. She covers many topics, including going from IC to a manager, transparency — constant communication with your team, setting clear expectations, building relationships, observing others, disagreeing and committing, and more. CHAPTERS * 0:00 Introduction * 0:28 Your background and how you got into leadership? * 4:00 What are some lessons you’ve learned in your engineering leadership career? * 11:26 Setting clear expectations. * 12:26 What would be your advice on how people could build these relationships? * 16:39 What would be your advice for managers who are just starting out? * 21:35 How do you know if you’re being too transparent or communicating too early?* 22:44 Disagree and commit.* 23:55 Is there a personal habit or two that you feel has contributed to your success?* 25:37 Observing others* 28:01 Where could people go if they wanted to connect with you or learn more about you afterward? RESOURCES * ⭐️ https://www.linkedin.com/in/dana-sherrell-0655176b/ #engineering #leadership #management #womenintech
September 09, 2022
Engineering Management Lessons, Things You Need to Know, Agata Grzybek Engineering Manager
In this video, Agata Grzybek, engineering manager at Netflix, shares some of her most important lessons about engineering management. This video is a must-watch if you're thinking about becoming an engineering manager or are already in a leadership role. She covers many topics, including burnout, meditation, women in tech, coaching, productivity, non-violent communication (NVC), and more. She also shares her thoughts on engineering managers' challenges and opportunities. This is a must-watch for anyone interested in engineering management!
September 07, 2022
How to Plan Your Career for Engineering Leaders: Tips and Important Advice￼
Want to learn more about career planning? We discuss what career planning is and what the most crucial considerations are. What strategies may individuals use to increase the clarity of their career planning? How would you go about career planning, particularly as a manager or leader in engineering? Why do some individuals stay in middle management while others are on this fast track and go to the vice president level? Find out more now!
September 05, 2022
Crucial Lessons on Managing Up: How To Work With Your Boss | Influence | Assertive Communication
What are some of the biggest challenges that people encounter in managing up? How should people speak to their manager? How to use influence. What is assertive communication? And how to ask for what you want. Plus important advice for those raised not to disagree with authority. You will leave with resources to develop the skill of managing up.
July 04, 2022
How to be an Introverted Leader. Tips for Women, First and Second Generation Managers
Introverted? Make this your superpower by learning how to be an introverted leader! I spoke to Wen Hsu, a coach who specializes in working with first- and second-generation female leaders. The benefits and drawbacks of being a first or second-generation immigrant are explored. We cover why imposter syndrome can be a good thing! We also talk about double standards for women in tech, how to keep women in the field, and how to help them succeed as engineering leaders.
June 29, 2022
Engineering Management Lessons — Learn to be a great Engineering Leader with Anand Safi
Learn to be a great engineering leader. This week I speak with Anand Safi, Director of Engineering at Mark43, Advisory Board Member, Mentor & Coach. We talk about what is important to look for in hiring, the importance of having a routine and themes for the day, strategy, ruthless prioritization, focussing on people's strengths, and more.
June 20, 2022
Leadership Lessons — Madhu Vorha Director of Engineering
Learn to be a great engineering leader. This week I speak with Madhu Vohra Director of Engineering at VMWare. We talk about the ability to manage work, life, kids all of that, given that our lives and work have blended so well, the necessity of inclusive job descriptions in hiring, the importance of hiring, focusing on your strengths, relinquishing control, and more!
June 10, 2022
Leadership Lessons — Swapna Savant Director of Engineering
Learn to be a great engineering leader. This week I speak with Swapna Savant Director of Engineering at Headspace Health and founder of adaptUp. We talk about presenting to executives, the necessity of inclusive job descriptions in hiring, self-awareness, setting realistic goals rather than aiming for the stars, plus networking ideas, and more! #engineering #leadership #management #womenintech
May 29, 2022
Improve Your Presentations with Neil Thompson from Teach the Geek to Speak
Teach the Geek to Speak's Neil Thompson discusses improving presentations this week. We cover: What are engineers' biggest public speaking challenges? How should presenters prepare? What's the difference between non-technical and technical audiences? Does the rise of WFH affect how to do presentations over Zoom vs. face-to-face best? And more! Transcript at https://managersclub.com/improve-your-presentations/ 0:08 Tell us a bit about yourself and how did you get into teaching about public speaking? 02:22 How would you define a great public speaker? 03:43 What are the most common difficulties engineers have from doing well at public speaking? 05:29 How should people best prepare to give a presentation? 06:39 What is the difference between giving a presentation to a non-technical audience versus a technical audience? 08:48 Now that so many people are WFH, does it change how you do public speaking over Zoom, for example, instead of a live face-to-face audience? 10:32 Do you have any tips regarding visuals, slide decks, etc.? 12:02 Any tips on how to handle Q&A? Is it better to save all questions to the end or take them as you go? 12:22 What is the best way to get feedback after a talk? 14:07 Are there any tools, books or resources you would recommend to people to improve their public speaking? For example, I know that many people recommend toastmasters for this... 16:37 Any advice for people who English is not their first language? 17:11 Where can we go to learn more about you and your course? RESOURCES: ⭐️ Neil's website: teachthegeek.com ⭐️ Neil's YouTube channel: youtube.teachthegeek.com ⭐️ Neil's Podcast: anchor.fm/teachthegeek ⭐️ Neil's book: https://amzn.to/3MigUps WHO AM I: I’m Vidal, an author, podcaster, and engineering manager working at LinkedIn in the SF Bay Area. I am on a mission to help and inspire engineering leaders everywhere. MY BOOKS: ⭐️ The Software Engineering Manager Interview Guide https://amazon.com/dp/B086JMXP28 ⭐️ Time Management Tips for Engineering Managers https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08HM6LSCL FOLLOW ME: ⭐️ My website: https://www.managersclub.com ⭐️ LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/vidalgraupera/ ⭐️ Twitter: https://twitter.com/vgraupera ⭐️ ManagersClub LinkedIn Group: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/13846374/ GET IN TOUCH: If you’d like to talk, I’d love to hear from you. Pinging me directly on LinkedIn will be the quickest way to get a response, but if your question is very long, feel free to email me at email@example.com. ----------------------- Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links, which means that if you click on them and buy something, I get a tiny commission, which helps me keep bringing you material like this. #leadership #management #engineering #blackintech
May 21, 2022
Engineering Leadership with Chintan Shah, VP Engineering at Collective & ex-Uber
Chintan Shan, VP of Engineering at Collective & ex-Uber joins me this week. We talk about the Jobs to be Done framework and great advice for sourcing candidates. In addition, he shares some key points for new managers and two good book recommendations for managers. Transcript at https://managersclub.com/engineering-leadership-chintan-shah-vp-engineering/ 0:01 Introduction 0:22 What’s your background, and how did you get into management? 2:17 What are the biggest challenges you face as an engineering leader? 3:01 Could you share with us a lesson you learned as an engineering leader? 6:47 Hiring is an important function of management. What is your approach to hiring? 11:15 What’s your advice for managers who are just starting? 15:24 What’s your workday like, and how do you manage your time, emails, calendar, etc.? 19:14 What’s a personal habit contributing to your success as an engineering leader? 21:17 Can you share an internet resource, app, or tool that helps you as a manager? 24:10 If you could recommend one book to managers, what would it be and why? 25:49 As a manager, what is your approach to developing & leveling up members of your team? 29:18 What does it take to be a great engineering leader? 30:58 Where can we go to learn more about you? RESOURCES ⭐️ Chintan Shan on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/chintan/ ⭐️ Clayton Christensen's Innovator's Dilemma. https://amzn.to/3FDZOQD ⭐️ Turn the Ship Around https://amzn.to/3l19ZF9 ⭐️ Amazon leadership principles ⭐️ gem.com WHO AM I: I’m Vidal, an author, podcaster, and engineering manager working at LinkedIn in the SF Bay Area. I am on a mission to help and inspire engineering leaders everywhere. MY BOOKS: ⭐️ The Software Engineering Manager Interview Guide https://amazon.com/dp/B086JMXP28 ⭐️ Time Management Tips for Engineering Managers https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08HM6LSCL FOLLOW ME: ⭐️ My website: https://www.managersclub.com ⭐️ LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/vidalgraupera ⭐️ Twitter: https://twitter.com/vgraupera ⭐️ ManagersClub LinkedIn Group: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/13846374/ GET IN TOUCH: If you’d like to talk, I’d love to hear from you. Pinging me directly on LinkedIn will be the quickest way to get a response, but if your question is very long, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. ----------------------- Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links, which means that if you click on them and buy something, I get a tiny commission, which helps me keep bringing you material like this. #leadership #management #engineering #leadershipdevelopment
May 20, 2022
Engineering Leadership with Guillermo Manzo, Senior Manager Expedia & US Marine
Guillermo Manzo, Senior Engineering Manager at Expedia, joins me this week. We hear how he went from the Marine Corps to a successful engineering leader. Guillermo offers leadership and delegation tips. We discuss hiring diversity. And we cover his approach to career advancement and leveling up his direct reports among other things. Transcript at https://managersclub.com/engineering-leadership-guillermo-manzo-senior-manager-expedia-us-marine/ 0:01 Introduction 0:22 What’s your background, and how did you get into management? 3:48 What are the biggest challenges you face as an engineering leader? 6:18 Could you share with us a lesson you learned as an engineering leader? 7:47 Hiring is an important function of management. What is your approach to hiring? 10:40 What’s your advice for managers who are just starting? 12:52 What’s your workday like, and how do you manage your time, emails, calendar, etc.? 15:35 What’s a personal habit contributing to your success as an engineering leader? 17:36 If you could recommend one book to managers, what would it be and why? 18:28 Can you share an internet resource, app, or tool that helps you as a manager? 19:58 As a manager, what is your approach to developing & leveling up members of your team? 24:35 What does it take to be a great engineering leader? 25:28 Where can we go to learn more about you? RESOURCES ⭐️ Guillermo Manzo on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/guillermomanzo/ ⭐️ The Prince by Machiavelli https://amzn.to/3OQSK7s WHO AM I: I’m Vidal, an author, podcaster, and engineering manager working at LinkedIn in the SF Bay Area. I am on a mission to help and inspire engineering leaders everywhere. MY BOOKS: ⭐️ The Software Engineering Manager Interview Guide https://amazon.com/dp/B086JMXP28 ⭐️ Time Management Tips for Engineering Managers https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08HM6LSCL FOLLOW ME: ⭐️ My website: https://www.managersclub.com ⭐️ LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/vidalgraupera/ ⭐️ Twitter: https://twitter.com/vgraupera ⭐️ ManagersClub LinkedIn Group: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/13846374/ GET IN TOUCH: If you’d like to talk, I’d love to hear from you. Pinging me directly on LinkedIn will be the quickest way to get a response, but if your question is very long, feel free to email me at email@example.com. ----------------------- Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links, which means that if you click on them and buy something, I get a tiny commission, which helps me keep bringing you material like this. #leadership #management #engineering #latinx
May 09, 2022
What is a Fractional CTO with Morgan Craft
In this interview, I speak with Morgan Craft, a fractional CTO in NYC and founder of gitBabel. We discuss what a fractional CTO is, how someone can become one, the challenges, the business of being a fractional CTO, including how much money engineering leaders can make doing it. Morgan also shares some great advice on running a consultancy business and a startup, working with startups, time management, and book recommendations.
March 29, 2022
People and Product Focused Engineering Leadership with Happy Wang
In this episode, I speak with Happy Wang, SVP of Engineering at Everbridge. We talk about how to be a people and product-focused engineering leader. Happy discusses her approach to hiring at startups and career development. In addition, she shares some key points for new managers and some good book recommendations for managers. #womenintech #engineering #leadership #svp
March 16, 2022
Being a Great Coach with Anjuan Simmons Engineering Coach at Help Scout
In this podcast, I talk with Anjuan Simmons, Engineering Coach at Help Scout. We discuss how an engineering manager is like a coach. Anjuan has some great advice for aspiring engineering managers. We discuss a key insight between dissatisfaction and satisfaction. He talks about his player-centric approach, unique approach to time management, as well as some great reading recommendations and critical insights. It's a long episode, but I think you will find it worthwhile. #engineering #leadership #coaching #BlackInTech
March 06, 2022
Effective Remote Work with James Stanier, Author and Director of Engineering at Shopify
In this episode, I speak with James Stanier, Author and Director of Engineering at Shopify. We talk about working remotely, various best practices, team building, valuable resources for working remotely, how hiring has changed, and his new book Effective Remote Work. In addition, James offers advice for managers who are just starting out. You will also learn how James manages his time and a book recommendation for engineering leaders. #enginering #leadership #management #wfh
February 28, 2022
Get and Pass the Engineering Leadership Interview with Kevin Doiron Executive Recruiter
In this episode, I speak with Kevin Dorion, my former co-worker at Uber and now an executive recruiter at Okta, on how to get and pass the Engineering Leadership Interview. We go over how to get an interview, what to put on LinkedIn profile, crucial questions you should ask, and negotiating an offer. #leadership #management #interviewtips #engineering
February 18, 2022
Get and Pass the Engineering Leadership Interview with Kyle Cooper Leadership Recruiter at Meta
In this episode, I speak with Kyle Cooper, Leadership Recruiter at Meta, on how to get and pass the Engineering Leadership Interview. We go over how to get an interview, preparation, common reasons people don’t get hired, and negotiating an offer. #leadership #management #interviewtips #engineering
February 13, 2022
Get and Pass the Engineering Leadership Interview with Flo Monier Leadership Recruiter at Airbnb
In this episode, I speak with Flo Monier, an Airbnb Leadership Recruiter, on how to get and pass the Engineer Leadership Interview. We go over how to get an interview, preparation, common reasons people don't get hired, and negotiating an offer among other things.
January 24, 2022
Interview with Shruti Venkatesh, Senior Engineering Manager at VTS
Shruti Venkatesh is a Senior Engineering Manager at VTS. We discuss the ideal team member, how reading fiction can help you become a better leader, four coaching questions she asks her directs twice a year, what it takes to be a great engineering leader, and more in this interview.
September 17, 2021
Interview with Jean Hsu, VP of Engineering at Range
In this interview with Jean Hsu, VP of Engineering at Range and former leadership coach, we discuss the transition to a hybrid workforce, topgrading interviews, the importance of sleep, what it takes to be a great engineering leader, and more!
September 08, 2021
Being a Great Tech Executive — Interview with Aviv Ben-Yosef, Tech Exec Consultant & Author
Vidal: [00:00] Good afternoon. Welcome to the latest edition of ManagersClub. I’d like to welcome Aviv Ben-Yosef to the show. How are you? Aviv: [00:09] Hi. I’m great. Thank you for having me. What’s your background and how did you get into management? Vidal: [00:12] Thanks for coming on. I was looking at your background, but maybe you could tell a little bit about yourself to our listeners. I know you’ve been a consultant, but also an executive leader. Aviv: [00:21] Sure. I come from a very down-to-earth coding background. I started coding when I was nine, I served in the Israeli Defense Forces as an engineer. And since then I moved up the ranks did a bunch of roles. I worked at IBM, worked as a first employee of a startup for the good first years. And for the past nine years or so I’ve been independent. Part of it was just coding freelancing for companies. And then I slowly moved up to being the sort of a fractional leader, having managed teams and then teams and managers of teams. And then even teams as big as 40 50 engineers under me. And in the past few years, I’ve been transitioning to consulting and coaching tech executives to move them from needing someone like me as a band-aid to providing them the ability to just lead their teams as they need to. What are the biggest challenges you face as an engineering leader? Vidal: [01:21] Great. I was reading your book. We’ll talk about it in a bit, but what do you see as some of the biggest challenges that you face or your clients face as engineering leaders? Aviv: [01:29] I think that there are very common things that I see globally. For example, there’s the issue of, as the team becomes bigger and you’re growing and hiring more people, how do you maintain the same level of productivity and how do you maintain the same level of engagement by our people so that they don’t feel like they’re joining this big machine and they’re just a cog and this big thing. That’s one problem I’m seeing all the time. Another challenge I think is for us personally, as leaders as the constantly to upgrade our own processes, our own tools, because managing a team of five people is not the same as managing a team of 15. And it’s not the same as managing managers and so on. So we constantly need to redefine what we’re doing. Let go of things that might’ve worked for us for years, but no longer make sense and that sort of thing. And that’s hard, like molting every six months in a scale-up startup is going to be hard. But if you don’t do that, you’re going to be left behind. Vidal: [00:02:40] I think one of the hardest things you mentioned is a lot of leaders, have the tech part down, but it’s the soft skills that they have difficulty with. Is there any particular soft skill that you see as a big challenge? Aviv: [00:02:51] Say when you talk to tech executives, yeah, they have the tech part nailed down and executive is really hard. And exec’ing is vague. We like the specified JIRA ticket,
August 01, 2021
Interview with Jeremy Henrickson, VP Product and Engineering @ Rippling
In this interview with Jeremy Henrickson, VP Product and Engineering @ Rippling, we discuss hiring at startups, the importance of making decisions quickly while still considering that I might be wrong, and what it takes to be a great engineering leader.
May 20, 2021
Interview with Yannis Pavlidis, Senior Director of Data Science at Walmart eCommerce
In this interview with Yannis Pavlidis, Senior Director of Data Science at Walmart eCommerce, we discuss what it takes to be a great engineering leader, differences between engineering and data science, psychological safety, and hiring and conducting interviews during the pandemic.
May 19, 2021
How to Communicate and Motivate Engineers with Charles Weindorf, Senior Vice President Of Technology at Avertra Corp
How to communicate and motivate engineers with Charles Weindorf, Senior Vice President Of Technology at Avertra Corp. We discuss his new book on communication, tips to be a great new engineering leader, and several lessons from the US Navy.
April 06, 2021
Interview with Rama Kulasekaran, Sr. Director of Engineering at Optum (UnitedHealth Group)
In this interview with Rama Kulasekaran, Sr. Director of Engineering at Optum (UnitedHealth Group), we discuss what it takes to be a great engineering leader, psychological safety, the importance of networking, three book recommendations, and mentorship.
March 01, 2021
Best Practices to Develop a Meaningful Relationship with your Manager
"Best Practices to Develop a Meaningful Relationship with your Manager" presented at the IEEE Rising Stars Conference in January 2021. We'll go over: introduction, how to think about this topic, one-on-one meetings, how to ask for feedback, how to manage up, manage out, how to manage yourself, and some bonus tips, and then we'll have some time for Q&A.
February 17, 2021
Kan Yilmaz, Co-Founder at Haystack, on Metrics for Engineering Teams
In this interview with Kan Yilmaz, Co-Founder at Haystack, on Metrics for Engineering Teams, we cover best practices, common mistakes, and the metrics to track for product engineering and DevOps teams to help you as an engineering leader!
February 10, 2021
Interview with Jorge Salas, Application Development Manager at Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago
In this interview with Jorge Salas, Application Development Manager at Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago, we discuss how to keep up with tech, an interview question to ask, approaching difficult conversations, and how learning improv can help you as an engineering leader.
February 02, 2021
Interview with Mallika Rao, Software Engineering Manager at Twitter
In this interview with Mallika Rao, Software Engineering Manager at Twitter, we discuss challenges, the basics of managing well, hiring, coaching & mentoring new hires, and mountain climbing!
January 26, 2021
Interview with Tanaka Mutakwa, VP of Engineering at Names & Faces
In this interview, with Tanaka Mutakwa, VP of Engineering at Names & Faces and organizer of Tech Leadership Meetup Cape Town, we discuss how to conduct culture interviews, the importance of check-ins (1:1s), plus many tips and lessons learned in transitioning to management.
November 30, 2020
Interview with Himanshu Gahlot, Director of Engineering, Lambda School (ex-Amazon)
In this interview, with Himanshu Gahlot, Director of Engineering, Lambda School, we discuss going from IC to engineering manager, surveying your team, coaching with the GROW model, plus many tips and lessons learned.
October 18, 2020
Interview with Ashok Ramaraj, Senior Engineering Manager at Sam’s Club (Walmart)
In this interview, with Ashok Ramaraj, Senior Engineering Manager at Sam's Club (Walmart), we discuss going from IC to engineering manager, should I get an MBA, and many lessons learned.
July 14, 2020
Interview with Jossie Haines, Senior Director, Platform Engineering at Tile
In this interview & podcast, with Jossie Haines, Senior Director, Platform Engineering at Tile, we discuss diversity and inclusion, women in tech, going from IC to engineering manager, and time management.
June 02, 2020
Interview with Trish Gray, Head of Business Growth at Pinterest
Vidal: Today I have with me Trish Gray. Welcome, Trish, to Manager’s Club. Trish: Thanks, Vidal. It’s great to be here. Vidal: Thanks. It’s great to have you. Trish, maybe we could start out a little bit … maybe you could tell people a little bit about your current role and what you do. Trish: Yeah. Currently, I’m the head of business growth at Pinterest. Growth is a discipline that is emerging quite powerfully in the Bay Area regarding being the glue between engineering, product, marketing and business objectives. We’re in the business of creating those prototypes and really testing with an extreme data-driven approach utilizing a lot of user research, a lot of opportunity sizing, and other methods and disciplines in order to make sure that we’re maximizing all of engineering’s time and making sure that we’re creating features that we know have product markets that we know that are great for our users. What’s your background and how did you get into management? Vidal: All right. Awesome. Yeah, growth is super important. Trish, I was looking through your background on LinkedIn and you’ve had a long career in engineering leadership. You were Director of Software Engineering, VP of Engineering, Head of Business Growth, a bunch… Maybe you could speak a little bit about your background and how did you get into management? How did you transition in? Trish: Yes. Yeah. I’ve done a little bit of everything. I started my career in computer science. I went to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for computer science. And while I was there decided to start a company for online education. At the time, I was just a coder. I’d been coding since I was 12. I loved coding. That was my thing. I had really no interest necessarily in being an entrepreneur, but that’s how it happened because we wanted to create the best learning system on the web in information technology. Trish: We built what you could now call an online bootcamp a CodingDojo or a Hackbright Academy online but we were about 10 years ahead of our time. Worked on it for many, many years, made it into a school, had a lot of customer support. I created an online IDE system for learning. Also created a similar system for instruction and for creating instructional materials. Trish: So that was my role. I was the coder, the technologist of the entire thing and how I got into management was simply by necessity. We were growing the business and I had to run multiple aspects of the business, and so I couldn’t be the only one coding anymore. Brought in a few folks, we were a very close-knit family so we learned it all together and that just grew from there. Trish: So I don’t have a traditional trajectory into management but I will say that once we sold our company to O’Reilly Media, I had a mentor in the form of a director of HR that really taught me a lot about organizational development, performance management, and really just more of how complex management is and how it’s a completely different set of skills. Trish: And I found myself really geeking out on it and very much enjoying it and realizing that if you really build management skills and you try to be the most effective manager possible, then not only does your business improve but you end up having this wonderfully healthy organization that is right there with you, mission-driven and excited to be working on the same things.
April 07, 2020
Interview with Lavanya Ramani, Software Development Manager at Amazon
Vidal: Well, today, I have Lavanya Ramani with me. Lavanya, thank you for joining ManagersClub today. Lavanya: Thank you, Vidal, this is a great opportunity. I appreciate this. What’s your background and how did you get into management? Vidal: Maybe we could start a little bit, tell us about your background, maybe what you do now, how you got into management. Tell us a little bit about yourself? Lavanya: Sure. I graduated from India after completing my engineering from computer science in one of the reputed colleges in India. I joined as a software engineer in a services company and, after a quarter, realized that I wanted to work for a product company. So I moved from the services to a networking product company and continued to work there for about three and a half / four years. Later, I moved here and continued with the same company, which was headquartered in the Bay Area, and continued to grow from an individual contributor to a manager. Lavanya: So it was a great journey, the road to management, because I started understanding that I appreciate it when there’s a team around, and I’m able to bring out my best and think that I’m able to perform at my optimal best only when I’m around my team. That kind of made me think about whether I should move into management. But it was one such opportunity, which I wanted to pick up, where I could start with a small team. When I started working with a small team of about four engineers and delivered a particular feature for a particular product, we understood that it’s a great feeling to be within the team and it’s very rewarding when you see what a team can accomplish, by you being able to course-correct actions, tell what’s working, what’s not working well, and how you’re dedicating your time in a day to help people grow and the finding people, their blind spots in the team. Lavanya: So those are the things which made me think, let me move to management, and I ended up in management, right. Today, I’m an engineering manager at Amazon, and that’s been a great journey so far. So, that’s where I stand. Vidal: Nice. Could you say a little bit more, maybe like how you transitioned into management? So you applied to be a manager, or you were selected or asked by your boss, or how did that happen? Lavanya: Certainly, so at one point in my career, I had an opportunity. It was about four years ago. I had an opportunity to either go into technical leadership as an individual contributor or try to take management. And my director came and said to me that Lavanya, “can do well in both, but I personally feel that as a person who likes to work with a team, it would be awesome if you want to try the management part”. Lavanya: And I said, “certainly, that’s what is running in my mind as well. Why don’t I try management?”. So he said, “yes, certainly. But you won’t be starting with a big team, try to manage four people who are not going to be reporting to you to start with, but you deliver a project with them, thinking that you are their manager”. And these four people had varied experience levels. One of the engineers had over 25 years of experience in the industry. Another was a new hire from college, and I had mid experience in the industry with two more people. It was four people with varied experience, with varied knowledge, age. It was amazing learning how to lead a team, being that mentor, being the guide, being that leader,
February 11, 2020
Interview with Rukmini Reddy, VP of Engineering at Abstract
Vidal: So, today I have with me, Rukmini Reddy. Hi Rukmini, welcome to Manager’s Club. RUKMINI: Thank you, Vidal. Thank you so much for having me. Vidal: My pleasure. Rukmini could you start out, maybe tell us a little about your current role, what you do. RUKMINI: Absolutely. So, I’m currently the VP of Engineering at a hyper-growth startup in the Bay area. I lead a team of about 45 engineers and we are a remote-first company. Vidal: That’s great. Rukmini I was looking through your background. Could you tell us a little bit about your background and I know you’ve been VP of engineering at many places. How did you get into management? RUKMINI: So, this is an interesting story. I think…I’m not going to say how long though because it’s going to make me look like a dinosaur. So, this is a very long, long time ago, I was…I joined a company to be a software architect/principal engineer. I was an individual contributor who was coding and about four months into my new role, my then CTO and VP of engineering came to me and said they saw I had a unique knack for people and building relationships and wondered if I would consider transitioning into engineering management. RUKMINI: Like most IC’s, I was very skeptical about that move because I was afraid I would lose my technical skills and it would become stale, but I asked them if I tried it, would I be able to go back to it if I hated it in six months. And, they gave me that security and they said I could. So, I tried it and I’ve never looked back. I worked my way to engineering manager, to VP of engineering. I have now been a VP of engineering for over four years in three different organizations. What are the biggest challenges you face? Vidal: That’s fantastic. Could you say, what are some of the biggest challenges you face as an engineering leader? RUKMINI: I think it’s just the state of hyper-growth startups these days. You face tremendous challenges and I think this is very common in Silicon Valley, especially in very dynamic marketplaces, of keeping your team motivated, engaged, driving through with the same success factors. Marching to the same North star, that’s a challenge most of us leaders face. Vidal: Is there anything, in particular, you do to try to keep your team motivated and marching towards that North star? RUKMINI: Absolutely. I think clarity is really critical for teams to do their best. So, it’s my job to set up as much processes I can to make some of these… I’ll give you an example. So, if there are several initiatives that are active at the same time in an organization and you’re in a hyper-growth startup, it becomes really difficult to keep up. So, one of the things I use is a RACI framework. So, most initiatives have a RACI framework attached and I leave assigned… I assigned DRIs, directly responsible individuals, to lead this initiative, so that it makes it very clear to everyone what their roles are, how they’re contributing to an initiative and who the primary responsible individual is. So, when I need information, I need to provide support, I know who to go to and this is especially important in a remote company. Vidal: Got it. Yeah, the RACI framework is popular. I’ve heard of it, so I’ll put a link to that. Since you mentioned a couple of times it’s a remote company.
January 21, 2020
Interview with Vishal Saxena, VP Global SaaS Operations at Aktana
Vidal: Today I have Vishal Saxena here with me on the show. Welcome to Managers Club, Vishal. VISHAL: Thank you for inviting me. I’m looking forward to our discussion. It’s great to be here. What’s your background? Vidal: Awesome. Maybe you could start out a little bit. Tell us a little about your current role, what you do, I guess a little bit of background on yourself. VISHAL: Sure. I’m Vice President of Global SaaS Operations at Aktana. Aktana is an AI-based platform that enables customers to make data-driven decisions. Prior to joining Aktana, I was at Opentext for two years managing the SaaS team and before that, I was at Oracle for over 10 years. How did you get into management? Vidal: That’s awesome. Yes, I was looking at your background. Maybe tell us a little bit more, how did you get into management? How did you break into management? What was your motivation for getting into management and leadership? VISHAL: It may sound like a cliche. I became a manager by accident. I started as a shipping and receiving for a local system integrator and from there moved into the help desk and a couple of years later I joined a small company Brio Software again as an individual contributor, and after two years Brio was acquired by Hyperion. VISHAL: During that integration, I was promoted to a senior manager managing a small team including the manager. A couple of years later Hyperion was acquired by Oracle and the economies of scales changed. From managing the team of 10 I was managing each team over 50 people when I joined Oracle. And that number change to over 110 by the time I left. Vidal: How many was it by the time you left? You said it was 50 and then I went to how many? VISHAL: About 110. Vidal: 110, okay thank you. Sorry, go ahead. VISHAL: No problem. It was a very global, diverse team and it was fun to be part of the team. It did bring its own challenges, but it’s the dirt that comes with the rain. I enjoy managing the team, mentoring them and learn from them. What are the biggest challenges you face? Vidal: Okay, that’s great. Well, since you mentioned the challenges, maybe you could talk to us. What are some of the biggest challenges you face as an engineering leader? VISHAL: One of the biggest challenges is that many still struggle to accept change. See, change is inevitable. It’s going to happen and sometimes you need to take a step back and understand why the change occurred and try to be in the shoes of other people. But at times it’s hard to accept and I’ve been in those shoes where it was very hard for me to accept that change. But what helps is to take a step back and see from other’s perspective, I then tried to motivate myself. Once you’re able to do that, you’re able to motivate others within your team. If you don’t agree with the change don’t stick around, it’s not good for them, it’s not good for you. Vidal: Do you have an example that comes to mind? VISHAL: For example, since I was part of Oracle, organization changes were very often, right? And you’re moving from one org to another role or while you are being moved into the roles and at times you don’t like to be in that role, but you are moved into that role. And for example, let’s say you are managing a data center team. All of a sudden now you are moved into managing lab rather than managing the whole data center.
December 30, 2019
Interview with Pei-Chin Wang, Senior Director of Product at Redfin
Vidal: Good afternoon, Pei-Chin. Thank you. Well, welcome to the show. Thanks for joining me today. PEI-CHIN: Thank you. Vidal: Could you maybe introduce yourself, say a little bit about where you’re located and what your current role is? PEI-CHIN: Yeah, so I work at Redfin and we help people buy and sell homes. Currently, I’m a senior director of product at Redfin, leading our consumer facing products, so this includes acquiring new customers, thinking about how we evolve our search experience and converting more site users into customers that use Reston to buy or sell homes. What’s your background and how did you get into management? Vidal: That’s great. I mean, that’s a big market, real estate. Could you tell me a little bit about your background and how you got into management? PEI-CHIN: Yeah, so I am an engineer turned product manager. I started out my career as an engineer working at Google, worked on Google search infrastructure. And then after a few years I wanted to tap into my, I guess, inner superpower, which I think is connecting different ideas and really strong empathy to human beings. And I thought I’d try out product management. And it’s been, I think I’ve been the product manager for probably close to 10 years now. And I started managing, I think, five years ago. I was in a startup after I left Google. And as the company grew, I had the opportunity to manage, starting with one person, and that was a really great experience, and now at Redfin I manage a much bigger team. Vidal: Okay. I think that’s great how you said you were an engineer turned product manager. Can maybe talk a little bit, I haven’t had too many product managers on the show. Maybe, is there anything that engineers, engineering managers maybe don’t understand about product managers, or might be helpful for them in working better with product managers? PEI-CHIN: I think maybe one thing is to understand, at least this is my personal point of view, that it is by design to have healthy tension between engineering and product and design. And engineering often thinks about what is the best way to build something in a scalable way or what might, because engineers, like code, are touched by many different people. And I actually think, I really admire that engineering partners tend to think about how to make components more reusable, scalable over a long term period of time. And a product manager, oftentimes they want to bring the product to the market sooner. They want to test the hypothesis as fast as possible. And so there’s a healthy tension between getting to the market sooner or slower. PEI-CHIN: And then, product manager also plays a role of like being the voice of the customer, who’s the only person that’s not in the room, but the most important person for us all to serve. And so I think that healthy tension is helpful, and I actually really enjoy a lot of engineering partners that work with so we can have that healthy debate and tension. It really brings out the best of all of us. What are the biggest challenges you face? Vidal: I think that’s well said. Yes, you have to balance it. Could you describe, maybe what are some of your biggest challenges as a manager? PEI-CHIN: Yeah, it actually evolved as my team got bigger. I think at the beginning when I was managing a few people, the biggest challenge is to think about how do I help them grow and consis...
December 26, 2019
Interview with Randy Raw, VP of Information Security at Veterans United Home Loans
Vidal: Good morning, Randy. Welcome to the Manager’s Club show. How are you? RANDY: Thank you. It’s great to be here. I’m doing well. Tell us about Yourself Vidal: Maybe we could start off, tell us about your background. Well actually where do you work now? What’s your current role? RANDY: Sure, I’m the vice president of information security at Veterans United Home Loans. We are a VA loan origination company, so our, our mission is to get our veteran heroes into homes at competitive interest rates, faster than anybody else in the industry. We do a very good job of that. Prior to being here, I actually worked for an organization in Missouri called MOREnet. That was the Missouri Research and Education Network. We provided internet connectivity to the public schools, the universities and colleges and public libraries. Most of my career prior to that was also spent in government and education doing mostly system administration work initially, and then switching over as the internet became a thing and as we saw the increased need for security and moving into security when I moved to the role at MOREnet and now here at Veterans United. Vidal: That’s awesome that you’ve been doing stuff for veterans and also in education. I think that’s really great. Thank you. Thank you for doing those things. RANDY: It’s our pleasure. It’s a great industry to be involved with, especially now helping veteran heroes. They’ve put their life on the line for us. This is our opportunity to give back and to serve them What’s your background and how did you get into management? Vidal: That’s just awesome. Could you say a little bit about how you got into management? How did you transition to being manager? RANDY: I think like probably a lot of us, back in the early days, you do system administration work and you continue on. Then there’s a recognition that there’s a need for actually having a team instead of just an individual or a few individual contributors. Part of it was the first position that I actually had was at a small K-12 school. I hired a couple of people to be assistants for me and also actually utilize some high school students at the time in an unofficial capacity where they just were interested in technology. I really started accidentally essentially get into management from that perspective. Then it was just more intentional about seeking careers that had opportunity for both technical growth and also management growth. Each position that I moved into, I changed jobs a couple of times. That had additional people that were reporting to me and gradually just continued on to where I’m at now. Vidal: How many people report to you now? How big a team do you manage? RANDY: I’ve got eight direct reports right now and we also have a concept of something we call dotted in. We have three other people who are parts of other teams, but we bring them on to the information security team, so that they can really be a liaison back to those other teams that they work on. They are essential and integrated into the components of keeping our systems and our data secure. What are the biggest challenges you face? Vidal: Yeah, it makes sense. Yeah. I think several companies, a lot of companies have that concept. Okay. What would you say are some of the biggest challenges you face a...
October 30, 2019
Interview with Federico Soria, Engineering Manager at Airbnb
Vidal: Hey, so good afternoon. Today I want to welcome Federico Soria or “Fede.” Fede, thank you so much for joining the show today. FEDE: Thank you for having me. Vidal: Fede, could you maybe tell people a little bit where you work and what your role is? Tell us about Yourself FEDE: Yeah, for sure. I’m an engineering manager for the Luxe hosting platform team. So basically Luxe, it’s one of the businesses inside of Airbnb and it’s everything luxury and what you might think luxury might mean. So gigantic villas, private islands. Sort of the highest tier of Airbnb. And how we deal with a hosts, guests, platform and everything, it’s kind of unique. Two years ago when the engineering team got started, I clearly remember one of the first challenges and everything we had to do was, we had to add a couple of zeros more to everything hardcoded number of minimum around Airbnb. It’s been a fun challenge. What’s your background and how did you get into management? Vidal: That’s great. Could you maybe say a little about your background and how did you get into management? FEDE: Yeah. I’m a software engineer by trade, went to college at Arizona state, earned degree in software engineering. And then from there I worked as a software engineer for a couple of years and then it was on and off of doing my own business and managing other people obviously didn’t do so good at first and then it got better and better until I became CTO for a payments company here in the Bay area and then I went to be VP of eng for a couple of months at another startup. And then I joined as a software engineer here at Airbnb. And about a year into it I transitioned into management, engineering manager, which in Airbnb it’s not really a promotion, just a side step. And then the reason I got into management here at Airbnb is because I cared deeply about people’s lives here at Airbnb, their professions, their careers. I always really like to help every engineer be the best engineer they could be. So helping them out, it became a natural thing for me and people really enjoyed working with me on that area. I’m like what if I do this for a living? And it’s like everyone’s like, yes, that’ll be very helpful and make it less ad hoc and more like providing you the toolset and control to actually help people become better in their careers. I always really like to help every engineer be the best engineer they could be. So that was my number one influence to becoming a manager. The other one was around upwards visibility and how do you work with leadership and setting sort of the structure and the direction of the company. Airbnb is very bottoms up. I mean that’s a very cliche, but the reality is that it’s up to the team to define what projects you want to work on and how you actually influence those OKRs or those signals that move the actual company forward. Could you share with us a lesson you learned as an engineering leader? Vidal: That’s a fantastic reason you gave for wanting to be an engineering leader. So I love that. And I think that also is the best practice at many companies. That’s great you have that parallel career track in the management track now it looks like an engineering track. I think you mentioned, you said you recently became a manager there and that at your previous company.
October 10, 2019
Interview with Eugene Bochkarev, VP of Engineering at Xero
Vidal: Welcome Eugene. It’s great to have you here on the show. How are you today? EUGENE: Hi Vidal. Thank you for having me here. Tell us about Yourself Vidal: Could you tell me a little bit about your role and what does Xero do? EUGENE: I’m VP of engineering in San Francisco office of Xero. Xero is online accounting system for small businesses. We provide the whole spectrum of tools on web and mobile for a small business to do accounting on the go. You can do invoices, expenses, bills, manage your inventory, reconcile bank balance. of the most important things Xero provides is more than 800 tools and integrations with the different accounting and financial systems. Vidal: I noticed your title. It says “acting” VP of engineering. What does it mean “acting”? EUGENE: Acting means I’m temporarily lead the engineering in the San Francisco office during transition of the product development to different offices. It’s a good challenge owning a global product transition, being responsible for a lot of people. Make sure that my teams still deliver on committed releases, complete the knowledge transfer, and still feel positive and engaged. I think e biggest part of my role here is to make sure people feel motivated to come to the office every day. Vidal: Oh wow. One of the questions I was going to ask is what your biggest challenge is. Is that your biggest challenge to keep people motivated and transition it successfully? EUGENE: Maybe, right now yes. If you think about a general engineering manager’s life, I would talk about different challenges, but when you are in a transition, and it doesn’t really matter on which side of the transition you are, it’s always about how to make extra effort to keep people motivated. Because when you transition a product that you’ve worked for a long time, it’s always important to feel that the effort, years, and hard work you put in a product is not lost. It’s still there. What I like about Xero culture, I can see that even with transitioning product development back to New Zealand, they still will be successful products. The products will continue to grow, provide good services to small businesses. I think that’s what motivates people to come to the office and continue to transition the knowledge. Good question by the way. What’s your background and how did you get into management? Vidal: That’s great. That must be very interesting to have to do that when the people know that work is going away. I think that’s a good approach you have to it. We’ll get back to the general challenge of management. I would like to hear that. I know your background. I know you worked for example at Intuit for a long time. You worked at Chariot. Maybe you can talk a little about your background and how did you transition into management? EUGENE: I have a really typical for engineer manager path. I worked more than 20 years as an engineer. Honestly I didn’t really want to go into management. I was really happy to be one of lead engineers and working hard on engineering challenges. At the same time I was kind of pushedinto management position. Pretty typical where a new engineering manager would say, “Oh, you know what? You want me to be a manager? Fine. I’ll continue doing engineering and I do some management on the side.” I’m lucky. I had really complicated first few years. I got in a lot of troubles.
October 09, 2019
Interview with Ravi Bhim, CEO & Founder of BeautifulCode
Vidal: Good afternoon. I have with me today Ravi Bhim. Hi, Ravi, welcome to the show. RAVI: Thank you, Vidal. Nice to be here. Tell us about Yourself Vidal: Ravi, maybe you could tell people a little about your role and what Beautiful Code does. And by the way, I love the name, cool name. RAVI: Thank you. Yeah, so I am the founder of Beautiful Code. I set up Beautiful Code in 2013. And the company basically sets up and fully manages remote engineering teams for our clients. Vidal: Ravi, a lot of companies struggle with remote teams. At some companies I’ve even worked at, they don’t allow it. They have this term, “face-to-face culture,” which basically is a nice way of saying we don’t want any remote teams, we can’t deal with remote teams. So do you have any quick advice for engineering managers on the remote team? RAVI: Right, great opening question. I think it’s natural that people want to interact in person. Definitely, that has the highest quality quotient in terms of communication and coordination. Remote teams, I believe, is more of an evolution, in general, of how people want to work and how, in general, technology is transforming and making people capable to work remote. So it’s a trend, I believe. Let me take that back, it’s not really a trend any more. It started off as a trend, but it’s going to be inevitable for companies to be remote-smart and even distributed-smart. There are few companies that have gone a hundred percent distributed. We are not even talking about remote. If people are skeptical of what remote can do for them they probably could learn a different perspective. Not to say this is going to work for everyone. They could learn a different perspective by just observing fully distributed engineering teams. Coming back to the advice – you don’t have to buy into the remote or the distributed set-ups. But if you spend time to understand, then you can kind of get another perspective of how some of these new-age leaders are basically taking up remote and distributed teams and making it work. Vidal: Interesting. So you said they can observe to understand… How would be a way if someone’s at a company where they don’t have remote, that they could observe this? I’m just curious what would be your advice on that. RAVI: Yeah. Some of the companies have been pretty vocal about this. Buffer is a great example. I interviewed Katie Womersley, who is the VP of Engineering at Buffer a few weeks back and I’ve learned a new perspective on distributed team management. Thought leaders such as Katie are actively helping evolve this new style of workforce management. And there are other companies who are in general gone 100% distributed or 100% remote. Stripe notably has made a big kind of commitment to go remote in recent times. Talking and preparing ourselves for Remote is fantastic because this is not an area which has been formally researched, unlike for example software development processes. We have the agile methodology, right, which was fairly researched and studied. There’s not a lot of formal study that went into Remote. But I think that’s just due. It’s a matter of time before people are going to share their best practices ...
October 01, 2019
Interview with Akshaya Srivatsa, Director of Engineering at Bolt
Vidal: Hello, my name is Vidal Graupera and welcome to this interview on Managers Club. Today I have a special interview with my friend Akshaya, Director of Engineering at Bolt. Among other things, we are going to deep dive into context switching, task management and some of the special things he does to stand out in recruiting which you may find interesting if you don’t work at a big name company like Google or Facebook. So without further ado, here we go! Vidal: Good afternoon. Akshaya welcome to Manager’s Club. Thank you so much for taking time to speak with me today. AKSHAYA: Hey, Vidal! Thanks for inviting me to have this conversation with you. I’m looking forward to the rest of the call. Vidal: Great. Maybe we just start out, you could share a little bit with people like where you’re currently at, maybe your current role, that you do. AKSHAYA: Sure. I am the Director of Engineering at a company called Bolt. I’ve been at Bolt for about three years now. It’s a company that is focused around changing checkout for all of E-commerce. Checkout is what drives commerce and what we have noticed is, it’s a pretty fragmented technology with every business doing their own un-optimized way of doing checkout and our whole focus is on trying to bring more value to our merchants by building a hyper-optimized checkout and fraud management services. What’s your background and how did you get into management? Vidal: Could you share a little about your… how your background was before Bolt and how you got into management? AKSHAYA: I started off my career back at a hardware silicon company called Marvell Technologies. I was building a lot of software there and I quickly realized that I was doing all the right things, but I wanted to do it at a software company. And so my next gig was at Twitter where I spent almost four years building their ad technologies as one of the earlier engineers there. I saw… I mean I did get an opportunity to manage early on, but I kind of opted out of it and wanted to learn a little more technically before I started managing. And so I was laser focused on trying to improve my technical skills. Four years later I wanted to do something really small, very very early stage startup and Bolt came on my radar. AKSHAYA: It was a company of 4 to 5 engineers in all, so I just jumped with both feet in and as soon as the engineering team grew to about eight or nine people, I became the first manager and now I lead a team of about 30 to 35 engineers. Vidal: Do you have any managers that report to you? AKSHAYA: Yeah, sure. I mean it would be impractical if I had all 30 engineers report to me. I have about three to four managers who manage about six to eight people. I also manage a bunch of individual contributions directly. So in all, you know… we have our hands full as managers and leaders on the engineering side of Bolt. But in all we are making it work. What are the biggest challenges you face? Vidal: All right. That’s a good segue into my next question. Could you describe what are some of the biggest challenges you face?
September 11, 2019
Interview with Libor Michalek, President, Technology at Affirm, Inc.
Location: San Francisco Bay Area * What’s your background and how did you get into management?* What are the biggest challenges you face?* What is your approach to hiring?* What’s your advice for managers who are just starting out?* What’s your workday like and how do you manage your time, emails, etc.?* What’s a personal habit that contributes to your success?* Share an internet resource or tool that you can’t live without.* If you could recommend one book to managers, what would it be and why?* What is your approach to mentoring and coaching members of your team?* Where can we go to learn more about you? Vidal: Libor, hi, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me today. Maybe you could introduce yourself, say a little bit about where you’re located, and what’s your current role. LIBOR: My name is Libor Michalek and I’m the President of Technology at Affirm. I run our engineering, product, operations, and people teams. What’s your background and how did you get into management? Vidal: All right. I was looking at your background. I know you worked at Google, YouTube and different places like that before. Can you maybe tell me a little bit about your background and how you got into management and engineering leadership? LIBOR: Certainly. So a lot of it actually came out of necessity. I went to school at University of Illinois, got a computer science engineering degree there then went straight into writing software. Pretty quickly, I moved into helping as an engineer, early engineer or first engineer building a variety of startups, in a variety of spaces. I was always very excited about software as something that enables a new business and new idea to come to fruition across really a variety of domains. LIBOR: The first startup I worked on was in enterprise software followed by consumer web, and data center networking hardware. Then back to consumer web with a foray into social. At YouTube, I ran the infrastructure engineering teams. And, finally, into Affirm, which is solving financial technology problems and building products in the financial space. LIBOR: I was always really excited about building and solving problems that were interesting and having the software background, that was the avenue for how to solve those types of challenges. In fact, one of the criteria for each one of the things that I worked on was always that software and technology had to play a vital strategic role in solving those problems. LIBOR: The transition into leadership and management was something that happened for me multiple times, not just once. In each of these organizations with no real management in place or required given the size and scale, I’d go in, roll up my sleeves and write software. Then, as the organization grew, I would ultimately take on a technical leadership position, then a management position. And as the companies grew, I’d move into senior management positions. LIBOR: I was fortunate to have the opportunity to go from individual contributor to tech lead, to manager, to manager of managers, director and vice president. Not only going through the journey multiple times but also taking lessons and applying them to the next opportunity.
August 06, 2019
Interview with Juan Pablo Buritica Vice President of Engineering at Splice
June 16, 2019
Interview with Lior Gavish Senior Vice President at Barracuda Networks
* What’s your background and how did you get into management?* What are the biggest challenges you face?* What is your approach to hiring?* What’s your advice for managers who are just starting out?* What’s your workday like and how do you manage your time, emails, etc.?* What’s a personal habit that contributes to your success?* Share an internet resource or tool that you can’t live without.* If you could recommend one book to managers, what would it be and why?* What is your approach to mentoring and coaching members of your team?* Where can we go to learn more about you? Vidal: Thanks for speaking with me today. I really appreciate you joining the call LIOR: My pleasure. What’s your background and how did you get into management? Vidal: Just tell us a little about yourself, maybe your title, where you’re located. LIOR: Sure. I am the SVP of Engineering of the Email Protection team at Barracuda Networks. It’s a cybersecurity company. Our office is in Campbell next to San Jose. I live in San Francisco, happy to be here today. Vidal: Well thanks. Could you tell us a little bit about your background and how you got into management? A lot of people are interested in knowing how they get into management. LIOR: I originally did my bachelor’s and master’s in computer science and I’ve worked for several years, both for larger companies and smaller companies, startups that is. I did all of that back in Israel, where I grew up. And then at some point I wanted to learn more about management. I went to Stanford to get an MBA and I learned many good leadership principles – it was a really, really good experience. It brought me here to Silicon Valley and I actually decided to start a company, to join friends and start a company with them right after. It was called Sookasa. And Sookasa was really where I first kind of took my first steps with management. When we started out, the team was pretty flat and we all worked together. LIOR: But over time, I found I was taking on more and more responsibilities and I really, really wanted to win and wanted to drive our success and our product, so eventually my co-founder, who was the CEO, asked me to officially take the VP engineering role. And so that’s how I first became a manager. We were a small team of five engineers. We later grew to 10 and got acquired by Barracuda Networks, which is where I work today and within Barracuda, it was essentially the same story. So I was always trying to take more responsibility and to make the team more successful. And so over time, I was asked to take responsibility over an increasingly larger team of engineers, by now there are probably 70 or 80 engineers in my organization. It’s been a path that was very enjoyable for me and where I learned at times, just starting out as an individual contributor and taking on increasingly larger teams. Vidal: That’s great. How long have you been in management? How long was that transition from when you started to here? LIOR: Probably seven years since we first started Sookasa and I took on a small team. It took four years until we got acquired and then three more at Barracuda Networks. Vidal: That’s a great growth trajectory. That’s awesome. LIOR: Thank you. What are the biggest challenges you face?
May 21, 2019