When I first started in a new role as an engineering manager, there were very few resources on being a good manager, particularly for people new to the role. Luckily over the last few years we have seen a surge in material in this area. However, it can still be a challenge to know what tools and resources to reach for in your first few days this new role. This blog post is an attempt to distill a few of the most important things I have learned in my time doing this myself as well as helping other people new…


Engineering projects that are either directly technology migrations or shaped like them are exceedingly common, so learning to do them well is an important skill as an engineering leader. These projects tend to generate a lot of detail-oriented work and often lack the glamour of shipping product features. Connecting the importance of migrations to business impact and demonstrating their value can be a challenge. Supporting teams through these projects can be even harder. …


The inspiration for this post was a Tweet I’ve bookmarked that goes “Never YOLO the communications plan”, from Julia Grace. Like her other advice it is worth emulating.

Why is it important?

The what and why of the changes are obviously the most critical aspects. However, as Julia’s Tweet indicates, the how of the communication is just as crucial. For leaders a big part of the job is setting context, or as Netflix put it “context not control”. Setting the context is particularly true for significant changes. In rapidly growing organizations, these changes frequently have broad impact, and everyone affected needs to know the…


The team I support has traditionally done offsites twice a year. We are very distributed and find it useful to spend time together in the same location as a team at a planned cadence. This is important to get to know each other socially, plan work, and have some planning and strategy conversations. We usually do them in the summer as a team and the entire company does a large gathering in the winter. Due to Covid this year’s plan was delayed but after some thought we decided to do a “remote offsite”. I shared our experience via a Twitter…


Recently, I led a discussion group and an interesting thread emerged on, the question of identifying interesting problems to work on. My answer was one I’ve internalized for a while though I don’t practice as much as I should. Since it appeared relatively novel to the rest of the group, I decided to share it.

A common pattern with which folks approach creativity is what I call the “Eureka myth”. The idea that similar to Archimedes, and his Eureka moment great ideas, just appear, in his case, the baths of ancient Syracuse. However, in his case, he already had a…


Photo by Max Ostrozhinskiy on Unsplash

All good engineering organization organizations eventually form career ladders or paths around 2 basic principles.

  1. Ladders separated by function i.e. at a minimum separate ladders for individual contributors and managers. As organizations mature you typically start seeing more parallel ladders being added into the mix e.g. Product Management, Program Management, etc. but you need to start with at least a clear separation between these 2 roles.
  2. Rubrics for the levels within the ladders. A good rubric will capture the expectations of a role for the individuals performing it. …


Thoughts for this post, started like most things with a common problem. Scheduling appointments on weekends to accomodate a regular weekday job schedule. It’s always a struggle, requiring booking far in advance to get desirable Saturday appointments for everything from a dentist to a haircut. On the rare times, I’ve had a weekday appointment, I’m always struck by the contrast compared to my regular weekend appointments. E.g the hairdressing salon will have empty seats, and often I’m the only customer, with other folks at the salon waiting for the random walk-in client to show up. …


This is an unordered list of things I learned or mulled over in 2017 [1].

It is incredibly hard to interview and hire engineering managers, particularly first line managers.

2017 was the year I decided to look for a new job. I spent some time interviewing at various companies, of various sizes for an engineering manager position. Technical interviews for engineers have received a fair amount of attention. This has led to the process evolving, and some standardization around the format e.g. most people know to expect a few coding assignments, some design, some for team fit etc. However, in my experience almost every company I interviewed at, did engineering manager interviews differently. It…

Uma Chingunde

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