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We discuss operational & organizational innovation with Zhichun Li (Director of Engineering @ Scale AI)! We explore the early days of Rapid at Scale AI, different organizational design experiments Zhi’s tested, and many of the principles behind their operational practices. You’ll hear about merging engineering & ops, designing orgs for autonomy, scaling into multiple products, and leveraging different org structures for innovation.ABOUT ZHICHUN LIZhichun Li (@zhichun_li) is Director of Engineering @ Scale AI. She built the Rapid team from scratch with a focus on providing the fastest way to production-level quality labels within a day, with no data minimums. As an early employee of the company, she built up the infrastructure for Scale’s supply ops system and scaled up Scale’s 3D Sensor Fusion product.Before Scale, Zhi worked at Lightspeed China Partners, Facebook, Microsoft and Airbnb with roles in investment and software engineering. She was a producer of VC Pulse, a podcast spotlighting venture capitalists in China. Zhichun was the youngest ever admit to the Yale MBA program, and studied computer science at CMU."We tried to basically brand it as like black ops, i.e. the special kind of ops where you get to do 10x work and build a lot of product out of it. And that actually, in a lot of ways attracted very entrepreneurial individuals to want to join. So I think a lot of it is shaping the brand of the program, helping people understand how important it is and the things that I'll learn.- Zhichun Li This episode is brought to you by PlusPlusPlusPlus is an all-in-one technical onboarding and internal knowledge platform that fast-tracks productivity.Learn more & sign up at plusplus.co/elcCheck out our friends at Shortcut!Shortcut is an issue tracker that offers all the functionality, without most of the complexity making it easier for you to plan, collaborate, build, and measure success. Right now, listeners of our show can get 2-months free on any paid plan.Learn more & sign up at shortcut.com/elcSHOW NOTES:The early days of scale & why engineering runs operations (1:44)What is ops engineering (3:48)Why engineering first got involved in ops (6:29)How to brand ops engineering to attract top engineers (8:51)Merging ops & engineering to eliminate silos (10:07)How to merge ops & engineering for the first time (11:39)How team composition evolved at Rapid (12:46)Designing your org for autonomy & customer empathy (17:07)Rapid’s operating principles (18:53)Generating Rapid’s operating principles (23:18)Painful short-term decisions that yielded better long-term outcomes (24:57)Scale AI’s evolution into multiple products (28:04)Behind the scenes of Scale’s multi-product moment (31:04)Leveraging general managers & org structures to drive product innovation (32:43)When to invest in, or shut down a project (36:21)Rapid Fire Questions (37:47)Takeaways (40:41)
We explore the career journey of Technologist & Technical Advisor William A. Adams. We cover how he identifies his next career challenges, the technical advisor role and how you can build your skills to grow into the role. Plus we get into the “people challenges” of the job, how the “human work” is the secret to unlocking creativity, and why building the social fabric of work matters.ABOUT WILLIAM A. ADAMSWilliam A. Adams (@LeapToTech) is an award-winning D&I innovator, engineering trailblazer, and philanthropist. He was named the first Technical Advisor to Microsoft’s CTO, Kevin Scott.As co-founder of the LEAP apprenticeship program – Microsoft’s D&I Program of the Year in 2020 – he helped launch the training of more than 26 cohorts around the world. His most recent collaboration with the U.S. Virgin Islands aims to train technical talent and build critical technical infrastructure.Early in his 30-year career, William was one of the first Black entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley. He developed mission-critical custom enterprise apps for NeXT computers and pioneered an instant messaging service purchased by the CIA.Today, in addition to his role as Technical Advisor at Microsoft, William is the philanthropic founder of The Event, a collaborative, community-based hackathon. When he’s not tinkering with code, the husband and father of three builds cabinets, knits, and rides a motorcycle."The predictive part of it, it's just pattern matching. You have to see it and go, 'What is that going to lead to? Let's play this out. Let's say AMD IS right. And this thing does come to pass. What will that mean?Let's say cloud computing IS going to be the thing... What is THAT going to mean for the (micro)chips? It's gotta be optimized 'power for efficiency.'So whoever can do that best is going to be the winner in that game.”- William A. Adams Check out our friends at Shortcut!Shortcut is an issue tracker that offers all the functionality, without most of the complexity making it easier for you to plan, collaborate, build, and measure success.Right now, listeners of our show can get 2-months free on any paid plan.Learn more & sign up at shortcut.com/elcThis episode is brought to you by PlusPlusPlusPlus is an all-in-one technical onboarding and internal knowledge platform that fast-tracks productivity.Learn more & sign up at plusplus.co/elcSHOW NOTES:William’s career journey from developer to Technical Advisor to the CTO @ Microsoft (1:55)Identifying your next career challenge & why William conducts a career assessment every 2 years (4:36)What is a Technical Advisor & how do you grow into the role? (9:21)How to gain buy-in and build influencing skills (13:02)Becoming a better synthesizer (15:21)Making long term predictions about technology (21:53)People challenges & solving the human equation (24:02)How to create shared understanding by listing assumptions (28:23)Why the "human work" is the secret to unlocking creativity in remote facilitation (30:42)Building the Microsoft LEAP Apprenticeship Program (33:01)Why creating the social fabric of work matters (42:16)Rapid Fire Questions (44:22)Takeaways (52:15)
Culture is the social contract you have with your team. Self-compassion is the social contract you have with yourself! We explore practices to cultivate compassion with Kevin Eyres (Executive Coach & Former MD LinkedIn Europe). We cover practices to eliminate negative self-talk, self-doubt, and increase compassion in your team. Plus bridging the gap from aspirational culture to reality, and how to identify the top 3 behaviors that help you succeed as a leader.ABOUT KEVIN EYRESAn engineer by background, Kevin Eyres (@kevineyres) spent his early career leading engineering and product development teams for the likes of Compaq, Shopping.com and Alta Vista. Kevin has also been responsible for leading the European divisions of three Silicon Valley companies. He was the General Manager of Alta Vista International spanning 14 countries from 2001. He joined SideStep, now Kayak, as first employee and Managing Director in 2005 and in 2007 was appointed Managing Director for LinkedIn. Starting from his spare bedroom to IPO four years later Kevin lead the global movement at LinkedIn into five countries and the global Irish HQ.Kevin ranked 22nd in Wired Magazine’s "The Wired 100" in 2010, a listing that features the most influential people shaping the UK’s digital landscape.Today, Kevin lives in Los Altos and is now enjoying a plural career as an exec coach/board member/ investor / Hoffman Process Teacher."If you continue with the negative talk, it just reinforces itself. So stop. Acknowledge it, and stop. And the drop is you drop into your breath.And the self-compassion mantra is, 'This is a moment of pain. Everybody feels pain. I'm not alone. And may I be kind and gentle to myself.’- Kevin Eyres   Check out our friends at Shortcut!Shortcut is an issue tracker that offers all the functionality, without most of the complexity making it easier for you to plan, collaborate, build, and measure success.Right now, listeners of our show can get 2-months free on any paid plan.Learn more & sign up at shortcut.com/elcSHOW NOTES:Kevin’s journey to engineering leadership (1:36)What prepared Kevin to become a general manager (4:45)Kevin’s transition to executive coaching (6:53)Why culture and self-compassion are important themes in Kevin’s career (9:34)How to eliminate negative head talk (12:52)“Stop, drop & roll” to overcome self-doubt (16:24)How to create space from automatic responses of anxiety or shame (19:14)Bridging the gap between aspirational company culture and reality (20:54)How self-compassion and culture are connected (23:25)Increasing self-compassion in your team (24:44)How peer groups increase compassion and bring relief (26:24)Making self-compassion a habit (29:03)How to cultivate the patience to be compassionate (31:02)Identifying the top three behaviors that help you succeed as a leader (33:01)Rapid Fire Questions (35:13)Takeaways (39:10)
If you ever find yourself staring at a screen not knowing how to even start an important presentation this episode is for you! Arquay Harris (VP Engineering @ Webflow) underscores the importance of storytelling in public speaking, and shares valuable tips on how to craft a narrative and get your point across in a way that feels natural for you.For Arquay’s slides & original presentation from our 2022 Spring Virtual Summit - check out the full video here: https://bit.ly/3GxMjT3ABOUT ARQUAY HARRISArquay is the VP of Engineering at Webflow. Prior to Webflow, she held Engineering leadership positions at Slack, Google, and CBS Interactive. A developer who also has a Masters in Design, Arquay loves the marriage of form and function. When not working she can be found cooking, stumbling over guitar and piano chords, or watching Seinfeld."And so if you were using this to give an actual presentation, you might say something like, ‘Imagine a world where deploys only take two seconds? Or what if tests only took 30 seconds to write?’So you're taking this undesirable thing and you're contrasting it with this idealistic future to really bring in that emotionality to get the audience hooked.- Arquay Harris This episode is brought to you by OrgspaceOrgspace is a management ops platform for software teams that helps your leaders scale. Easily create team configurations, propose org charts, visualize cost projects & create headcount plans - so you can spend less time on spreadsheets & more time on humans.Sign up for a free trial today, at orgspace.io/registerCheck out our friends at Shortcut!Shortcut is an issue tracker that offers all the functionality, without most of the complexity making it easier for you to plan, collaborate, build, and measure success.Right now, listeners of our show can get 2-months free on any paid plan.Learn more & sign up at shortcut.com/elcSHOW NOTES:What Arquay starts every presentation with (2:03)Message, tone, and audience (3:17)The hero’s journey (7:17)The mountain story structure (8:42)Nested loops (9:33)Sparklines (11:28)In medias res (13:14)Converging ideas (14:22)False start (15:16)The petal structure (16:27)Focus on the purpose (21:13)LINKS AND RESOURCES(Full video from 2022 Spring Summit) Storytelling & the art of public speaking with Arquay Harris - https://elc.community/public/videos/storytelling-and-the-art-of-public-speaking
In this episode, Sri Shivananda (EVP, CTO @ Paypal) and Joel Beasley (host of Modern CTO! podcast and CTO @ Leaderbits) discuss some of the principles and frameworks that have made the greatest impacts on Sri’s career as an engineering leader. They cover Sri’s approach to organizational transformation, a framework for choosing new technologies, areas to look for when you’re building a pipeline of leadership, and recognition and disruption of patterns through self-reflection.ABOUT SRI SHIVANANDASri Shivananda (@srishivananda) serves as PayPal’s Executive Vice President, Chief Technology Officer. In this role, Sri oversees Technology Platforms & Experiences, leading teams responsible for the company’s secure, reliable and scalable global infrastructure and strategic core platform, the foundation that enables PayPal to deliver innovative services to global consumers and merchants.Sri has played a critical role in helping PayPal remain at the forefront of innovation since joining the company in 2015. Prior to his appointment as EVP and CTO, Sri was Vice President of Global Platform and Infrastructure, directing his team of technologists to drive massive growth at scale across a disruptive payments platform. Sri was responsible for all core technologies covering PayPal’s data centers, internal private cloud, online and offline data infrastructure, internal developer frameworks and tools, and various platform services.Before PayPal, Sri was with eBay for 12 years, working his way up from a software engineer to Vice President of Global Platform and Infrastructure. As VP, he was responsible for the company’s technology infrastructure that powered the eBay Inc. businesses, including eBay’s hundreds of millions of listings and PayPal’s millions of daily payments. Sri found his way to eBay via the acquisition of Deja.com.Sri has served on the board of F5 Networks since 2020.He received his Master’s in Mechanical Engineering from Ohio University and holds a Bachelor of Technology, Mechanical Engineering from Jawaharal Nehru Technological University."The most important thing here is that the human fabric in any organization, any team, any ecosystem is the most important one. When you align people to an outcome or a purpose, they'll figure out all the techniques that are necessary to do it. Sometimes they'll pull off magic when they are called the action.- Sri Shivananda  ABOUT JOEL BEASLEYJoel Beasley (@moderncto_io) is the host of the #1 leadership and technology podcast in the world, Modern CTO. Modern CTO is focused on interviewing high-profile executives in the leadership and technology space with over 150k active listeners. Joel is an MIT-educated CTO of Leaderbits with clients from Startups up to Billion dollar companies. He is also the founder of The Beasley Foundation, a charity that designs STEM-related children’s books that are then donated to orphanages, homeless pregnant women, and children in need.This episode is brought to you by OrgspaceOrgspace is a management ops platform for software teams that helps your leaders scale. Easily create team configurations, propose org charts, visualize cost projects & create headcount plans - so you can spend less time on spreadsheets & more time on humans.Sign up for a free trial today, at orgspace.io/registerCheck out Shortcut!Shortcut is an issue tracker that offers all the functionality, without most of the complexity making it easier for you to plan, collaborate, build, and measure success.Right now, listeners of our show can get 2-months free on any paid plan.Learn more & sign up at shortcut.com/elcSHOW NOTES:Changing mindsets, skill sets, and toolsets in times of transformation (2:16)Creating clarity and alignment in eng orgs (5:24)Getting skeptical team members to buy into mindset shifts (7:53)Sri's framework for choosing new technologies (10:33)Why engineering leaders need substance, depth, and hunger (14:40)How PayPal is democratizing financial services (19:43)The curiosity quotient (21:44)
In this episode, Bill Coughran (Partner @ Sequoia Capital, Former SVP Engineering @ Google) and Melody Meckfessel (Co-Founder & CEO @ Observable) discuss ways to make your engineering org a strategic advantage to your company. They cover how to leverage feature/system “simplicity,” how to implement product instrumentation, when to bring in SREs, and how to balance tech debt and refactor work.ABOUT BILL COUGHRANBill Coughran (@BillCoughran) works as a founders' coach and partner at Sequoia Capital to help build spectacular technology-centric companies. Previously, Bill was Senior Vice President of Engineering at Google with oversight of Chrome, YouTube, maps, google.com, underlying infrastructure systems, and security."If a leader comes in and talks about, 'I did this and I did that' rather than talking about the teams that they worked with in the past... The reality is the work got done by others.And so, I think it's critical for more senior people to recognize the importance of an overall team. And part of their job is to help mentor and develop people on the team.- Bill Coughran  ABOUT MELODY MECKFESSELMelody (@mmeckf) is the CEO / Co-founder of Observable, where she is building the future of data collaboration. She is passionate about helping humans thrive through collaboration, inclusion, and insights. Before Observable, she was a VP of Engineering at Google, leading systems with a team of 1,000+ where she created the DevOps practice for Google Cloud.Melody was responsible for large-scale systems delivering successful outcomes for millions of users. Melody instills passion around data innovation - improving exploration and insights from data. She is an expert in tools and systems for productive teams to thrive, and that's exactly what she is bringing to the future of data collaboration on Observable.This episode is brought to you by OrgspaceOrgspace is a management ops platform for software teams that helps your leaders scale. Easily create team configurations, propose org charts, visualize cost projects & create headcount plans - so you can spend less time on spreadsheets & more time on humans.Sign up for a free trial today, at orgspace.io/registerCheck out Shortcut!Shortcut is an issue tracker that offers all the functionality, without most of the complexity making it easier for you to plan, collaborate, build, and measure success.Right now, listeners of our show can get 2-months free on any paid plan.Learn more & sign up at shortcut.com/elcSHOW NOTES:The challenge of keeping enterprise engineers close to the end user (3:26)Product instrumentation vs product intuition (8:22)Why it’s critical for eng teams to interact with customers as a company scales (11:31)How long should dev teams handle site reliability before bringing in dedicated SRE (12:35)What attributes Bill looks for in eng leaders (18:13)Why a tolerance for failure is key to innovation (22:01)Should early stage companies deal with tech debt? (24:17)The value of mentor-first engineering leaders (31:15)
What does it take to build a tech org from the ground up? Khawaja Shams (Co-Founder & CEO @ Momento) sits down with Anshu Narula (VP Digital Technology @ Rivian) to discuss how Anshu went from larger companies like PayPal and eBay to scaling Rivian’s digital tech org from scratch. They discuss critical cultural values, early guiding principles and processes for the org, Anshu’s approach to scaling the engineering teams, and a starting point if you’re building from 0.ABOUT ANSHU NARULAAt Rivian, Anshu is responsible for the strategic development of Rivian’s digital ecosystem. She leads teams building products and architecting systems across the technology stack, which has her overseeing a wide range of initiatives from rivian.com to charging software, in order to best serve Rivian B2C and B2B customers. With more than 20 years of experience in product development, technical management and software architecture, Anshu is passionate about technology and building products that are simple, scalable and engaging."I started with my leadership team first. Next approach we took, was to go after hiring those engineers underneath them. Because I really needed coders to get through the aggressive growth phase. So those teams then hired all those engineers, once we had the architecture in place.Then we started layering the managers to help. And started calling out the sub-functional areas. And that's when we started to add in the layer of senior managers...- Anshu Narula  ABOUT KHAWAJA SHAMSKhawaja (@ksshams) is a technical hands-on leader, passionate about investing in people, setting a bold vision, and execution with his team. At AWS, he owned DynamoDB, a highly available fully managed database service serving at extreme scales! It powers much of Amazon retail, Amazon Video, and control planes of critical AWS Services. Khawaja subsequently owned product and engineering for all 7 of the AWS Media Services, responsible for streaming some of the most visible events in the world, including the Super Bowl and the world’s first Live 4K Stream from Space. He was awarded the prestigious NASA Early Career Medal for his contributions to the Mars Rovers.This episode is brought to you by OrgspaceOrgspace is a management ops platform for software teams that helps your leaders scale. Easily create team configurations, propose org charts, visualize cost projects & create headcount plans - so you can spend less time on spreadsheets & more time on humans.Sign up for a free trial today, at orgspace.io/registerCheck out our friends & sponsor Coderpad!CoderPad is a technical interview platform built for all scales of business, whether you’re a startup or large global company.Do you want to improve your candidate experience & hire the right people faster?Learn more at coderpad.io/elcCheck out Shortcut!Shortcut is an issue tracker that offers all the functionality, without most of the complexity making it easier for you to plan, collaborate, build, and measure success.Right now, listeners of our show can get 2-months free on any paid plan.Learn more & sign up at shortcut.com/elcSHOW NOTES:Being the first digital tech hire at Rivian (1:58)Shaping Rivian’s tech org from scratch (4:42)Anshu’s approach to establishing processes (6:00)Adapting the hiring strategy to the pandemic (8:15)Creating culture in a remote-first environment (9:41)How to build an organization from the ground up (11:06)Deciding how to structure the tech org (13:31)Anshu’s strategy for scaling engineering teams (15:17)Identifying the right candidate for something that’s never been done before (17:56)Prioritizing teamwork in the leadership layer of the eng org (19:36)How to assess teamwork as an attribute in candidates (21:01)Balancing pace of innovation with quality (22:33)Advice for any eng leader building an org from scratch (24:15)Ashu’s takeaways from scaling Rivian (24:57)
To grow your engineering team from 200 to 1,200+ you can expect many phase changes in your org. How might your role change and what can you anticipate? Ryan King (CTO @ Chime) and Clarence Chio (Co-founder & CTO @ Unit21) explore how Ryan’s role has evolved across Chime’s different phases of growth over the last 10 years! You’ll hear how team topologies changed, how they hire senior leaders/VPEs for different phases of the company, how goal setting changes, and other great insights to help you scale your org to the next level!ABOUT RYAN KINGRyan King (@ryanking) is the co-founder and chief technology officer of Chime. Ryan was previously VP of engineering at Plaxo, an early professional social networking pioneer that was acquired by Comcast Interactive Media. Ryan also held senior engineering roles at Liberate Technologies and Microsoft. Ryan earned a BS in computer science & engineering from UCLA, and an MS in computer science from Stanford University."There are a few things that I have come to have strong opinions about... One is, teams should own their own domains, services and data. You got to own full-stack your domain. You want to minimize coordination between teams and dependencies on teams. And then something that gets often overlooked as you scale is... aligning the organization with the architecture. The organization's growing, the architecture is evolving, but you have to consciously align those two things if you want to maintain a highly functioning engineering team as you grow...”- Ryan KingABOUT CLARENCE CHIOClarence Chio (@cchio) is the co-founder and CTO at Unit21, a Google-funded startup in San Francisco building tools to fight fraud, money laundering, and online abuse. He authored the O’Reilly Book “Machine Learning & Security” and is also an adjunct lecturer at U.C. Berkeley, teaching a graduate course on the same topic.This episode is brought to you by OrgspaceOrgspace is a management ops platform for software teams that helps your leaders scale. Easily create team configurations, propose org charts, visualize cost projects & create headcount plans - so you can spend less time on spreadsheets & more time on humans.Sign up for a free trial today, at orgspace.io/registerCheck out our friends & sponsor Coderpad!CoderPad is a technical interview platform built for all scales of business, whether you’re a startup or large global company!Do you want to improve your candidate experience & hire the right people faster? Learn more at coderpad.io/elcSHOW NOTES:Ryan’s story of how Chime first started (2:00)How Ryan’s role as CTO changed over time (4:17)How Chime’s engineering org structure & team topologies evolved (6:37)When should you deviate from your existing team structure? (9:06)When do you know you need to bring in a VP of Engineering? (10:23)How did new VPEs build trust and credibility when first starting? (14:32)How does Chime set goals today? (16:14)How do you measure engineering team and org performance? (19:22)What Chime does different to hire great engineers (23:03)Final advice for engineering leaders running teams who have yet to find product-market fit (27:20)
This is a special episode from our new series Engineering Founders - We deconstruct the recently closed pre-seed fundraising experience of our friends Brian Guthrie & Aaron Erickson (co-founders of Orgspace). Brian & Aaron share their experience finding a co-founder and making the decision to leave their engineering leadership positions at big companies. Plus they share great advice on navigating the fundraising experience and dealing with rejection! Check out Engineering Founders - https://bit.ly/3KnIfFILearn more about Orgspace & check out their new beta HERE: http://orgspace.io/elcABOUT BRIAN GUTHRIEBrian Guthrie (@bguthrie) is Co-Founder and CTO at Orgspace. His career spansr 20 years, leading teams at everything from global enterprises to seed-stage startups. Prior to founding Orgspace, he was VPE at Meetup, where he led the organization through their transition out of WeWork. He’s worked in software domains as diverse as agile coaching, music hosting and pizza procurement and is a recognized thought leader in continuous integration and delivery. Brian lives and works in Brooklyn.ABOUT AARON ERICKSONAaron Erickson (@AaronErickson) is Co-Founder and CEO at Orgspace. Before Orgspace, he spent 30 years working in leadership roles, most recently as VP of Engineering at New Relic. Over the course of his entire career, he has been an advocate for building better software. He spent a decade at ThoughtWorks, where he drove digital transformation via application of agile and continuous delivery. Aaron lives and works in San Francisco.Aaron: “I remember one person in particular, saw our slide deck and said, 'Literally, I wouldn't even give you a reference to somebody with this slide deck.’ It was so bad...Tough to hear! Right? You know, very, very tough to hear... But was very, very valuable! I mean, it really honed our message and it was precisely the thing we needed to hear, to actually make our pitch a lot better...”Brian: I actually, I didn't find it that tough to hear. I always presumptively assume that whatever I'm doing is awful so to hear some of the reflected back, I'm like, 'Yes! It is terrible! Tell us more. Give us the worst.'I really, I love that actually.”Aaron: “Hence why I'm always the optimistic one and Brian always dragged me back to reality.”Brian: “He was so wounded by it! I'm like, 'Yeah, it's a terrible deck!'”ABOUT ORGSPACEOrgspace is a management ops platform for software teams that helps your leaders scale. You can easily create team configurations, propose org charts, visualize cost projects & create headcount plans - so you can spend less time on spreadsheets & more time on humans.If you want to learn more (or sign up for their JUST launched beta!) check them out at orgspace.io/elcCheck out our friends & sponsor Coderpad!CoderPad is a technical interview platform built for all scales of business, whether you’re a startup or large global company!Do you want to improve your candidate experience & hire the right people faster? Learn more at coderpad.io/elcSHOW NOTES:Closing a Pre-Seed round of funding (3:21)Brian’s decision to leave Meetup (5:53)Aaron’s decision to leave Salesforce (10:09)How to choose a co-founder (13:21)Questions to ask potential co-founders (15:50)How to choose an idea (20:30)Navigating the fundraise (25:27)Filtering the feedback you get on your startup (28:16)How to communicate your idea to investors (32:19)Dealing with rejection (35:37)Product > pitch deck (39:31)How to balance building a business and fundraising (42:23)Rapid Fire Questions (45:19)
Welcome to our first ever LIVE recording of the show! This is a special behind-the-scenes preview of the upcoming 2022 ELC Virtual Summit (4/20-4/22)! We cover speaker sessions we’re excited about, why we’re excited for community-led round tables, how they’ll help you harness community & build your support network! Plus we showcase 4x round table discussions covering performance management, courageous leadership, hiring vs. buying, and helping women thrive not just survive in tech!Learn more & register for the 2022 ELC Virtual Summit HERE: www.sfelc.com/summit2022SHOW NOTESWelcome to our first ever LIVE recording of the Engineering Leadership podcast! (1:39)What is the ELC Virtual Summit all about? (4:08)Preview of a few speaker sessions we’re excited about (5:54)Why we’re excited for community-led roundtables & how they’ll help you harness community & build your support network (9:02)What are “round-tables” & why are they valuable to engineering leaders?Introducing roundtable hosts Joy, Andrei, Wen & Keng (plus why they’re most excited about their discussion topic) (12:46)Performance management roundtable preview (18:28)What unexpected feedback have you received from your team during performance reviews? (22:31)Courageous leadership roundtable preview (27:51)If you saw “courageous leadership” what would you want to gain from a roundtable? (34:55)Hire vs. Buy roundtable preview (38:38)Helping women thrive, not just survive in tech - roundtable preview (47:11)Wrap Up! Register for the ELC Summit @ www.sfelc.com/summit2022 (56:52)
Communication between engineering leadership and the CEO is crucial, and not without its challenges. In this special episode Andrew Lau (Co-Founder & CEO @ Jellyfish) and Eli Daniel (Head Of Engineering @ Jellyfish) give us an inside look into their own working relationship and share tips for optimal collaboration between engineering leaders, CEOs and "the business."ABOUT ANDREW LAUAndrew Man-Hon Lau (@amlau) is Co-Founder and CEO of Jellyfish, the leading Engineering Management Platform (EMP) that provides complete visibility into engineering organizations, the work they do, and how they operate.Prior to Jellyfish, Andrew was the Chief Strategy Officer for ad-tech leader Nanigans after his social retail-tech company LoopIt was acquired. He also previously helped create companies at Redstar Ventures. Andrew was VP Engineering and founding technology team member of Endeca Technologies, an enterprise search software company that was acquired by Oracle Technologies for over $1B. He also has experience at companies such as Microsoft and IBM.Andrew holds a B.S. in Computer Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is a certified barbecue judge for the Kansas City Barbecue Society. He hails from Oakland, CA and is still an avid fan of the Oakland Athletics despite living in Red Sox country for over 20 years. He lives in Cambridge, MA with his wife Elsie and two young children Callie and Mira."There's a game of distrust already happening here, or at least his satisfaction.And dissatisfaction could be why is it something else coming out faster? Like I thought this has been done? Or this thing didn't come out good. Or my favorite person isn't working on this thing.The supposition in the set person's head is that something's wrong with the work assignment, patterns slash it's the wrong matching of people to work or they're doing some stuff is wasting time.Use the act of sharing it and their critique on the specific things to try to suss out what their discontent with...- Andrew Lau   ABOUT ELI DANIELEli Daniel is Head of Engineering at Jellyfish, where he leads the efforts to develop our software products.  He comes to Jellyfish by way of 20+ years in the Boston tech scene, having seen both successful exits and smoldering craters, which have led to a keen interest in what makes successful product development teams go.Eli holds a BS in Computer Science from Yale.  He lives with his family and labrador retriever in Somerville, MA, and looks forward to returning to his regular bike-commute to work."I would try hard to head that thing off at the pass and be like, ‘Whoa! whoa! whoa! Like what... Help me understand, what are you trying to do with this information? How can I help you get what you actually want?Because I don't think it's a list of tasks you haven't heard of that the junior person is working on over there.’”- Eli Daniel   Check out our friends at Jellyfish.Jellyfish helps you align engineering work with business priorities and enables you to make better strategic decisions.Learn more at Jellyfish.co/elcSHOW NOTES:Translating engineering to the CEO (2:50)The tension between CEO and Head of Engineering (3:54)1:1’s with the CEO (7:01)The disconnect between CEO and engineering leaders (8:22)How to navigate mistrust from the CEO (12:44)Maintaining clarity with the CEO (17:15)Reporting hiring challenges for engineering (19:50)Hero developers don’t scale (27:02)What level of business insight do engineering leaders need? (36:40)Should engineering teams adopt trending frameworks? (39:10)Managing release expectations (45:11)How engineering leaders can stay in tune with business priorities (53:01)Takeaways (59:18)
Joy Dixon (Sr Manager, Engineering @ Salesforce) walks us through a unique goal-setting framework: Next Level Goals - to help you harness group accountability & accelerate their growth. Joy breaks down the process of getting buy-in from skeptical engineers, the power of peer accountability stand-ups, and why embodying your goals can be more effective than moving towards them.ABOUT JOY DIXONJoy Dixon (@JoyD1x0n) is a people-first, innovative, daring, JEDI Leader with strong technical prowess and deep business acumen. Joy has worked in the tech industry for 20+ years as a people leader, software engineer, technical trainer, and network administrator. Joy holds a Bachelor’s degree in African-American Studies, a Master’s degree in Software Engineering, and several professional certifications in software development and Agile methodologies.In the course of a diverse career, Joy has… Led and grown development teams to deliver engineering excellence in code, collaboration, and commitment all while modeling collective genius and having fun. Designed and developed applications using several programming languages and in various environments. In addition, she has configured and administered networks for global companies. Designed and delivered online and in-person, web, animation, and game development courses. Started a software development training company, Mosaic Presence to expand opportunities, cultivate community, and promote the Mosaic.As a self-described sunflower in a bed of roses, Joy conceives and constructs new paths that inspire innovation and transform cultures. She gives 100%+ to herself, team, and work modeling care, creativity, and excellence. Joy is a courageous communicator whose authenticity and integrity are valued and admired. Along with the above, Joy connects people and ideas in a heartfelt effort to support the success of everyone.Additionally, Joy loves music, animation, women's basketball, the Golden State Warriors, and motorcycles. Joy lives by the following quote from the world-record-holding Olympic champion and international sports icon, Wilma Rudolph: "'I can't' are two words that have never been in my vocabulary. I believe in me more than anything in this world.""Don't tell people 'I like to run.' Tell them 'I'm a runner!'It makes a world of difference! So you are embodying that person or those attributes that you want to have. And then from there, you move forward.Because if you say 'I'm moving towards my goal.' Then you're also saying 'I'm not there yet.' But if you embody the end, ‘I'm already there!’ Right?We know you're not holy already there, but you embody the end and then, act as if! And it makes a world of difference. You make so much more progress.- Joy Dixon  Check out our friends and sponsor, Jellyfish. Jellyfish helps you align engineering work with business priorities and enables you to make better strategic decisions.Learn more at Jellyfish.co/elcSHOW NOTES:Team building happens in the in-between moments (2:07)Get the right things done with smaller goals (5:52)Help eng team members make realistic business impacts (8:59)How to implement the Next Level framework with your eng teams (12:07)The magic wand: monthly accountability check-ins (16:42)Leverage peers for accountability, not just managers (18:52)The network effects of group accountability (19:47)Embodying your goals vs. moving towards them (25:01)Getting buy-in from skeptical engineers (29:03)How to measure and track abstract goals (31:46)Apply BRAVING to engineering leadership (34:34)Rapid Fire Questions (37:40)LINKS AND RESOURCES(book) Awaken the Giant Within by Tony Robbins - book Joy referenced talking about “constant and never-ending improvement(book) The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker - book referenced by Patrick discussing facilitation principles(book) Dare to Lead by Brene Brown - book referenced by Joy discussing BRAVING framework applied within her engineering team meetings(book) Linchpin by Seth Godin - what Joy is reading now
How eng orgs (and careers) evolve through hyper-growth w/ Samir Naik #77Samir Naik (Head of Engineering, Core Products @ Plaid) shares how Plaid’s engineering org has evolved over the last 10 years & the many unexpected ways his own career has transformed alongside Plaid. Samir deconstructs 3 different growth phases at Plaid, the indicators that your company is ready for the next growth stage, and how to choose an emerging tech city to expand to! Plus critical questions that helped guide Samir’s career within Plaid.ABOUT SAMIR NAIKSamir Naik (@samirnaik) is Head of Engineering for Plaid’s Core Products, overseeing a cross-functional team of product managers, engineers, designers, marketers building and scaling our core APIs. Having worn many hats throughout his years at Plaid, he’s managed teams large and small and as the first external engineering manager hire, he’s been instrumental in building Plaid’s engineering function from the ground up. Previously, Samir led teams at Dropbox, Zynga, and Disney."I made the comment... I was like, 'I don't think a lot of this is really engineering focused, right? It doesn't seem super relevant to the engineering team..."And he kind of just paused and looked at me and was like, 'That is your job! Doesn't matter if it's engineering or not, you need to fix these problems.'And I think it was a mindset shift for me, and it was really helpful feedback. But I think it kind of framed that there's a bunch of seams in an organization. Doesn't matter whether they're engineering or not, but I really need to look for those seams and those opportunities and make sure they're addressed, whether that's in my job description or not.- Samir Naik   Check out our friends and sponsor, Jellyfish. Jellyfish helps you align engineering work with business priorities and enables you to make better strategic decisions.Learn more at Jellyfish.co/elcThe ELC Virtual Summit is BACK on April 20th-22nd!We’re bringing together engineering leaders from around the world to surface fresh industry insights & help you build peer support. Don’t miss out on expert conversations, peer-led roundtables & workshops to help you accelerate your leadership growth.Learn more and register HERE: sfelc.com/summit2022SHOW NOTES:What was Plaid like in 2017? (2:56)Approaching Eng Mgmt as a business within a business (6:47)The three growth phases of Plaid (7:55)Deciding the sequence of scaling for an engineering organization (13:10)Relying on Eng Managers for project management (14:56)How to attract Sr Engineers during hyper-growth (16:55)Maturing from a single product to multiple business units (18:35)Org maturity as a lagging indicator of success (20:08)Indicators that your company is ready for growth stage 2 (21:10)How scaling turned Samir’s role into a more business-focused function (24:04)How to choose an emerging tech city to expand to (27:32)The need for “2nd communities” in remote organizations (31:58)Indicators that your company is ready for growth stage 3 (34:48)How long should you delay growth stage 3? (38:29)Evolving company culture as the organization scales (40:10)Handing off easy tasks that can be growth opportunities for others (43:40)Rapid Fire Questions (46:23)Takeaways (50:00)
Hypergrowth, Scaling & Org Design w/ Surabhi Gupta #76Discerning what to prioritize is key to success for any organization, and even more critical during hypergrowth. Surabhi Gupta (Head of Engineering @ Robinhood) shares how she identified current and future priorities as their eng org scaled from 300 to 1,000+ engineers. Plus her approach to org design, how to set up new hires for success during hypergrowth, and a framework for predicting future personnel requirements.ABOUT SURABHI GUPTASurabhi Gupta is the VP of Product Engineering at Robinhood, where she oversees the company's growing engineering organization. Prior to Robinhood, Surabhi spent seven years at Airbnb where she was Head of Engineering for Airbnb's Homes business. During her tenure at Airbnb, she led a variety of teams such as Search, Growth, Guest and Host. Before Airbnb, she was a Software Engineer at Google, where she worked on web search ranking, and the Google Now team on predictive search. Surabhi holds a M.S. in Computer Science from Stanford."These are not insurmountable problems. So when you make that case to other leaders, especially outside of engineering, I think it's important that...‘Hey, we're not going for this ideal world of no technical debt. It's just that here's the impact of not focusing on it. The impact of not focusing on this technical debt is that we are going to see outages and there will be this false sense of progress because every time the engineers try to focus on some product work, they're going to have to go on this outage and solve that.’I think the best way to put it really is you are treading water at that point.”- Surabhi Gupta Check out our friends and sponsor, Jellyfish. Jellyfish helps you align engineering work with business priorities and enables you to make better strategic decisions.Learn more at Jellyfish.co/elc The ELC Virtual Summit is BACK on April 20th-22nd!We’re bringing together engineering leaders from around the world to surface fresh industry insights & help you build peer support. Don’t miss out on expert conversations, peer-led roundtables & workshops to help you accelerate your leadership growth.Learn more and register HERE: sfelc.com/summit2022SHOW NOTES:Joining Robinhood in the pandemic (2:23)How new leaders can eliminate bottlenecks (6:59)How to amend decisions previously made by Executive Team Members (8:58)Robinhood’s growth from 300 engineers to 1,000 (11:49)The 3 aspects of scaling (12:46)Why process makes people happy (14:45)The effects of scaling on team structure (17:33)How to approach org design (19:23)Why flatter org structures are better for hypergrowth (21:36)How to perform org alignment check-ups (24:37)Forming the executive engineering team (25:55)A framework for predicting future personnel requirements (29:26)How to set up new hires for success during hypergrowth (32:42)Successfully onboarding senior leaders during hypergrowth (34:25)Cultivating a sense of belonging in the present “future of work” (36:03)Finding the right engineering teams for new hires (39:18)Rapid Fire Questions (41:07)Takeaways (45:47)
In today’s hiring environment, it’s unreasonable to expect someone to stay on your team forever. So how do you prioritize both the success of your team/company AND support the career growth of folks on your team? Tara Ellis (Engineering Leader, Animation Content Engineering @ Netflix) shares her approach to career growth & why she encourages her team to outgrow their roles! Plus, how to help someone understand if management is the right next step and how other leaders can begin facilitating a growth mentality in their organizations.ABOUT TARA ELLISTara Ellis (@maverick_mind) is an avid tinkerer and has been since the early days of the world wide web. As a critical and creative thinker, she is a relentless problem-solver skilled in applying analysis, technical knowledge, and strong interpersonal skills in her leadership style. Tara is a strong believer in “Peopleware” and because of that has a keen understanding of building and leading teams that deliver.As a leader at Netflix, Tara has led diverse engineering teams including continuously improving the Payments and Non-Member Experience to bring in new Netflix members globally. Currently, she leads teams in Animation Studio and Production Engineering in building products that power the Netflix Animation Studio ecosystem. Prior to joining Netflix, she led engineering teams at Disney Parks; if you’ve been to Disneyland or Disneyworld in the last decade, you’ve interacted with some of her teams’ software. She honed her engineering skills in the fast-paced, ever-changing environment at Amazon, learning lessons she still uses today.Outside of work, Tara loves to spend time with her family, cooking and traveling. She is a passionate collector and player of board games and a music aficionado.“When someone joins my team, I try to spend a fair bit of time with the expectation that you are not going to be here forever. I hope you are here as long as I can keep you. As long as our journeys kind of go together.But at some point, whether that be a year, three years, five years... you're going to outgrow this. That's just the nature of work. And so I like to be really upfront about that. And then I also like to prepare for that!”- Tara Ellis   The ELC Virtual Summit is BACK on April 20th-22nd!We’re bringing together engineering leaders from around the world to surface fresh industry insights & help you build peer support. Don’t miss out on expert conversations, peer-led roundtables & workshops to help you accelerate your leadership growth.Learn more and register HERE: sfelc.com/summit2022SHOW NOTES:Why should you help engineers outgrow their positions? (1:46)How to discuss career growth with your team members ( 4:15)Be a multiplier for the people you’re leading (5:53)A framework for managers to facilitate growth (9:02)Supporting skills acquisition for engineering contributors (12:44)Helping someone understand whether they should be manager (16:12)How to help first-time managers make less mistakes (25:09)Communicating with compassionate directness (28:52)Netflix’s pivot to growing people internally (32:45)How managers can begin facilitating a growth mentality for their teams (42:41)Rapid Fire Questions (45:21)Takeaways (51:35)LINKS AND RESOURCES(article) “When your manager isn’t supporting you, build a Voltron” by Lara Hogan(video) “How I learned to stop worrying, and grow high performing teams” by Tara Ellis(book rec) “Repairman Jack” by F. Paul Wilson, Nina Abbott
Conflict is a necessary part of the job. So how can you transform conflict to be collaborative, not competitive? Jordan Adler (Head of Dev Eng @ OneSignal) previews his conflict optimization workshop taking place at our 2022 Spring Virtual Summit! Jordan shares some of the main sources of conflict in eng teams, how to uncover underlying needs, shift people from entrenched positions & other frameworks to create an optimal environment for healthy conflict.ABOUT JORDAN ADLERJordan M. Adler (@jordanmadler) is the Head of Developer Engineering at OneSignal, where he drives the cutting edge of cross-platform customer engagement messaging APIs & SDKs. Previously, Jordan evolved Engineering Productivity at Cruise, led API Platform engineering at Pinterest, and was a Strategic Partner Engineer and Developer Advocate at Google, where he managed technical partnerships between major organizations and Google.“Looking at the conflict in particular, how do we switch from 'positions' to 'interests?'Right. So how do we take away from... ‘Hey, this is what I want, this is what you want.’To... ‘This is the reason that I have a particular want. And this is the reason that you have a particular want. And if we have clarity together, collectively on what those interests are, then we can collaboratively work towards a solution.’"- Jordan Adler    The ELC Virtual Summit is BACK on April 20th-22nd!We’re bringing together engineering leaders from around the world to surface fresh industry insights & help you build peer support. Don’t miss out on expert conversations, peer-led roundtables & workshops to help you accelerate your leadership growth.Learn more and register HERE: sfelc.com/summit2022 SHOW NOTES:Conflict optimization vs. conflict resolution (2:33)Engineering leaders need to embrace conflict (4:34)Conflict is necessary for collaboration (5:52)What creates conflict in engineering teams? (8:32)A real example of conflict optimization (10:31)How conflict optimization leads to better decisions (13:21)Using conflict as constraints to produce better solutions (15:24)How to optimize a conflict (17:38)Switching from "positions" to "interests" (20:26)Uncovering the underlying emotional needs in a conflict (23:24)How to use words that convey curiosity and not emotional violence (25:58)Why video calls are key to conflict resolution in remote work (28:55)How to practice conflict optimization - a preview of Jordan’s workshop during ELC’s Spring Summit 2022 (35:27)Ways to avoid conflict in the first place (37:15)Rapid Fire Questions (38:49)Takeaways (42:24)LINKS AND RESOURCESJordan’s website: https://jmadler.dev/(book) Conscious Business by Fred Kofman - Jerry’s favorite book(link) David Anderson Hooker - conflict transformation source Jordan referenced(link) Diana Francis - conflict transformation source Jordan referenced(link) Non-violent communication & Dr. Marshall Roseberg
Belonging and business results are not opposing priorities! Lucius DiPhillips (CIO @ AirBnB) shares how every team member's sense of belonging is the first principle that paves the way for all other business goals. You’ll hear how Airbnb designed programs & policies to enhance belonging, support critical employee challenges, and create industry-leading retention during the height of the covid-19 pandemic & ‘great resignation’ABOUT LUCIUS DIPHILLIPSLucius DiPhillips is the Chief Information Officer (CIO) at Airbnb, where he shares the company mission to create a world where anyone can belong anywhere. He has over 20 years of experience that spans Product Development, Information Technology, Customer Service, Financial Services, Payments, eCommerce, and Trust & Safety.Prior to joining Airbnb, Lucius held multiple Technology & Operations leadership roles at eBay, PayPal, Bank of America, and General Electric. He is originally from upstate New York where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Management Information Systems from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Management Information Systems from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and serves as the executive sponsor for several diversity and belonging groups and initiatives across the company. Through his sponsorship, Lucius has been instrumental in helping to improve the ways in which Airbnb attracts and retains diverse technical talent.Lucius has 2 children, a lovely wife, and a new puppy in the family! He is based in Silicon Valley, but also enjoys spending as much time as he can in the Tahoe area."And that's what the survey told us... People are missing that sense of community, people are missing flexibility, people are missing warmth and acknowledgment... That was really it!Ask people, 'what do they need?' And then deliver what they need.And it's really about being in tune and listening and learning and then delivering on what those things are gonna look like for the people."- Lucius DiPhillips   The ELC Virtual Summit is BACK on April 20th-22nd!We’re bringing together engineering leaders from around the world to surface fresh industry insights & help you build peer support. Don’t miss out on expert conversations, peer-led roundtables & workshops to help you accelerate your leadership growth.Learn more and register HERE: sfelc.com/summit2022SHOW NOTES:Why engineering leaders need to create a sense of belonging (2:34)How (and why) Airbnb measures belonging (4:16)Re-inventing the coffee-chat, coordinated no-meeting-days, and other wellness practices that work (7:31)Creating a culture of idea sharing and support for employee-led initiatives (11:17)The impact of implementing the Native Genius framework for all 500 of Airbnb’s team members (12:43)Using a framework for career conversations as a belonging and engagement strategy (15:45)Lucius’ template for career conversations (17:29)Achieving some of the lowest turnover rates, in a company with some of the lowest turnover rates in the industry… during the great resignation! (25:04)Lucius’ mentoring story on the impact of career conversations on burnout & retention (25:45)You CAN balance career development conversations with business goals (28:54)How to be a “multiplier” and facilitate the best work from your team members (33:09)Effective retention strategies during the “Great Resignation”(37:21)How leaders can use an Airbnb “host” mindset to tune into their people's needs (44:50)Investing in the tools for the future of work (48:51)Rapid-fire questions (56:44)Takeaways (1:03:08)LINKS AND RESOURCES(tool) Topia.io - AR/VR virtual meetup & community tool Lucius experimented with his team(book) “Multipliers” by Liz Wiseman(coaching/workshop) "Native Genius" - workshop & consulting to activate innate intelligence with Kristen Wheeler (resource) Native Genius - workbook from Liz Wiseman to understand your team’s Native Genius
M&As can be a major disruption for engineering orgs… so how can eng leaders strategically approach deal structuring in a way that benefits instead of distracts? Melody Hildebrandt (EVP Eng / CISO @ Fox Corporation & COO @ Blockchain Creative Labs) shares her experience representing the tech org during the biggest deal in entertainment history, what she learned negotiating on behalf of the tech org, and how they were able to use the event to accelerate innovation and productivity.ABOUT MELODY HILDEBRANDTMelody Hildebrandt (@mhil) is the Chief Information Security Officer at FOX and Chief Operating Officer of its subsidiary Blockchain Creative Labs (BCL). She is responsible for the cyber security posture of the entire business, spanning Fox Sports, Fox News, and Fox Entertainment. She also leads technology Merger & Acquisition efforts, identifying areas for investment of the company, leading to her current operating leadership role of FOX’s expansion into NFT and other blockchain technologies through the $100m creative fund of BCL.Previously, she ran product and engineering for all digital experiences across web, mobile, and living room applications within the FOX brands, notably leading the platform architecture to stream Super Bowl 2020, which broke all previous national video concurrency records while also setting a new quality bar with 4K/HDR. She is the Executive Sponsor of FOX Women in Technology and on the FOX Technology Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council.She previously was the Global Chief Information Security Officer at 21st Century Fox where she was responsible for the cyber security posture of 21CF businesses including 20th Century Fox, Fox Networks Group, National Geographic Partners, Fox News, Star India and others. She moved into a larger role at FOX following the announcement of the spin-off of many assets to Disney.Before joining 21CF, she was an executive vice president of Palantir Technologies. An early employee of the company, she helped start Palantir’s Commercial work, opened its New York Office, and led Palantir’s sales, product and field execution in cyber security, anti-money laundering, and rogue trading detection. Prior to that, she consulted to US and international governments with Booz Allen Hamilton where she designed military and strategy wargames."One thing that we intervened on very quickly because we were AT the table for (the conversation), "How should we structure the deal?" Was to do something that was quite counter-intuitive I think, and very controversial... Which was to say ‘Let's essentially value all of our current technology assets at near-zero... And make them part of the deal.’"- Melody Hildebrandt   SHOW NOTES:Background on the Fox Disney “mega-deal” (3:14)How to structure an M&A to accelerate your tech roadmap (5:45)Motivating engineering teams with forcing functions (10:07)What it was like representing a tech org in deal structuring (13:22)How to develop an engineering org’s merger strategy (18:00)M&A negotiation tips for engineering leaders (20:41)A critical skill for eng leaders: converting tech pains into business goals (23:45)How to get executive buy-in on engineering initiatives (29:01)“Crashing” your way to a seat at the table (32:18)Melody’s process for setting the strategic direction of an engineering org (33:37)Managing engineering teams from high and low — the middle is death (36:02)Why this M&A event continues to accelerate innovation (39:10)Rapid-Fire Questions (44:18)Takeaways (49:10)LINKS AND RESOURCES(article) A super-powered approach to tech transformation - Melody Hildebrandt& Paul Cheesborough’s article on the untold story of the 21st Century Fox & Disney transaction(podcast) Conversations with Tyler esteemed economist Tyler Cowen engages with today’s most underrated thinkers in wide-ranging explorations of their work, the world, and everything in between.(book) Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir(reference) The Masked Singer NFT project - www.maskverse.com
The quest to “find flow” as an eng leader can be elusive! Rob Zuber (CTO @ CircleCI) shares about his personal quest to find flow, refining/refocusing responsibilities as CTO, and why he brought on an SVPE to support. Plus some of the personal discovery frameworks & executive-level delegation practices that may aid your own quest to find flow as an engineering leader.ABOUT ROB ZUBERRob Zuber is a 20-year veteran of software startups; a three-time founder, and five-time CTO. Since joining CircleCI, Rob has seen the company through its Series F funding and delivered on product innovation at scale while leading a team of 150+ engineers distributed worldwide.Before CircleCI, Rob was the CTO and Co-founder of Distiller, Continuous Integration and Deployment platform for mobile applications acquired by CircleCI in 2014. Before that, he cofounded Copious an online social marketplace. Rob was the CTO and Co-founder of Yoohoot, a technology company that enabled local businesses to connect with nearby consumers acquired by Appconomy in 2011.Rob holds a Bachelor’s degree in Applied Science from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, and lives in Oakland, California with his wife and two children."When you start a company or you end up leading a very small company, the decision about how many people you end up managing is external forces on the company. The company just grows and your team grows to support it. And no one is saying, ‘Hey, it looks like you're ready for this...’And so I think so often what you see is early leaders end up exiting because that transition happens faster than they were prepared for. To me, that's a really fascinating dynamic because a lot of people coming into organizations are both opting in and getting selected in for the stage of the organization that you have...”- Rob Zuber   SHOW NOTESRob’s reflections on recapturing the “first-time coding” experience (3:08)On finding flow as an engineering leader (6:48)How Rob thinks about his role as CTO & why he brought on an SVPE to support (10:48)The “One Thing” moment & finding flow leading engineering teams (15:21)How do you intentionally protect maker-time (20:14)Balancing challenge & support to create flow (24:21)Frameworks for personal discovery or delegating executive responsibilities (29:35)On introducing resets & retro-ing your org (34:41)Rapid-Fire Questions (38:37)Takeaways (43:28)LINKS AND RESOURCES“The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results” by Gary Keller (book)First Team concept (definition)How CircleCI modeled it’s security training after DEF CON’s capture the flag (article)
This is the first episode of our new series “Engineering Founders” featuring software pioneer Anna Patterson (Founder & Managing Partner @ Gradient Ventures) who shares with us emerging trends & opportunities in AI/ML! We cover how to spot emerging trends, typical mistakes AI/ML companies & founders make, how product-market fit/scaling is different vs. traditional software companies AND how to test and validate ideas in the early stages. Plus long-time listener Theo Gervet (ML Lead @ Relyance AI) joins us as a guest co-host!ABOUT ANNA PATTERSONAnna is the Founder & Managing Partner at Gradient Ventures, overseeing the fund’s global activities.Anna is an accomplished leader in the field of artificial intelligence, a serial entrepreneur, with a long history at Google. Prior to starting Gradient Ventures, Anna was Google’s Vice President of Engineering in AI - integrating AI into products across Google. She also serves on the Board of Directors at Square, Inc.Early in her career at Google, she helped launch and scale Android to over a billion phones, launched Google Play, and led the search, infrastructure, and recommendations horizontals. Anna was the principal architect and inventor of TeraGoogle, Google’s search serving system, which increased the index size over 10X at the time of launch. She also helped lead search ranking efforts through Google’s IPO to determine the top ten search results.Anna co-founded Cuil, a clustering-based search engine, and wrote Recall.archive.org, the first keyword-based search engine and the largest index of the Internet Archive corpus. She wrote “Why writing your own search engine is hard” in the ACM Queue detailing this experience. Prior to that, Anna co-founded and co-authored a search engine Xift.Recognized for her technical contributions as well as her commitment to championing women in tech, Anna was awarded the Technical Leadership ABIE Award in 2016. Anna received her PhD in Computer Science from the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana. Then she became a Research Scientist at Stanford University in Artificial Intelligence, where she worked with Carolyn Talcott and one of the founders of AI, John McCarthy. For her undergrad, she double-majored in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Washington University in St Louis.Anna resides in the Bay Area, where she wrangles her 4 kids, 2 horses and her Irish husband."When you set out your plan, you can't miss all of your sales targets and make all of your hiring targets." Those kinds of things have to be inline.What people do is they just say, "Here's my plan. I'm going to march towards the plan. And it was super optimistic on the sales front and on the revenue front. And then maybe more realistic and achievable on the hiring front. And so they still kind of march ahead with the plan.I think that you need to constantly reevaluate where you are and on what direction you're going in and whether the growth is appropriate or even the plan was appropriate..."- Anna Patterson   Check out our friends and sponsor, Jellyfish. Jellyfish helps you align engineering work with business priorities and enables you to make better strategic decisions.Learn more at Jellyfish.co/elcAre you an eng leader interested in taking the leap to start your own company? Check out our brand new podcast series, Engineering Founders - Where we explore the transition from eng leader to founder!Subscribe on your preferred podcast platform HERE!SHOW NOTES:Anna’s background scaling complex systems (4:00)Emerging trends and opportunities in AI/ML (9:19)The biggest fallacy in AI/ML right now (15:03)The pendulum swing between model-first and data-first (16:14)What’s after deep learning? (18:14)Machine learning and source code (20:06)What will be the most valuable companies with ML as the core value proposition? (25:04)How to spot emerging trends in the AI/ML space (27:43)Typical mistakes AI/ML companies & founders make (31:16)How product-market fit is different for AI/ML companies (34:30)Differences in scaling between trad-software and AI/ML (35:20)How to test and validate ideas in the early-stages of an AI/ML company (37:49)Rapid-Fire Questions (39:38)LINKS AND RESOURCESGradient Ventures (Website)Streamlit.io (Website) - collaborative Python-based app-sharing platformBuilding Your AI A-Team (Link) - Anna and Adrien Treuille’s talk from the ELC 2020 Summit discussing how managing an AI team is different from traditional engineering teams & how to think about the collaboration between AI and engineering when scaling
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