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Geeks Who Lead Podcast
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Geeks Who Lead Podcast

Author: Peter Bell

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Hear the inside stories of the "geeks who lead at scale" - Directors, VPs and CTOs running software engineering orgs at larger companies with 100+ engineers, and interviews with domain experts who can help those leaders to manage their engineering orgs more effectively.

I'm your host - Peter Bell, I've been helping senior engineering leaders to connect with and learn from their peers since 2010!

This podcast is designed for  engineering leaders who want to learn the latest good practices from their peers who are way too busy operating to write an article or publish a book!

Running a software engineering org at scale is hard! You need to manage stakeholder expectations, attract and retain top talent, align and structure your org effectively and keep up with the latest processes and tooling. And that's before we even try to make sense of the potential impact of LLMs and GenAI on managing technical teams.

Our podcast and weekly newsletter provide you with access to hard-won wisdom from top engineering leaders and relevant domain experts. Learn more at

204 Episodes
Performance management has been a hot topic during this “year of efficiency”. In this Interview RC Johnson shares his experiences of building out, scaling and refining the performance management process at Indeed.
In a world where getting everyone into the same office five days a week is increasingly difficult, offsites are becoming an essential tool for aligning and connecting teams, departments and companies. But all too often, the planning falls to someone with limited events or facilitation experience - on top of their day job - and substantial value is left on the table.Allison - (currently an engineering leadership consultant - previously VPE at QuotaPath and Head of Engineering at Forem) has bee...
Over the last decade as Avant has scaled to an 800+ person company, town halls have been a consistent pillar of their interval communications strategy to support and reinforce culture.This week Paul Zhang shares his experience and approach to running both company wide and department specific town halls and demo days to better align his team.
Hiring junior developers is always a concern. They’re easier to find and cost less than experienced engineers, but in addition to being less productive, they can easily become a drag on the performance of the senior devs you depend upon to ship mission critical features. Drawing on his experience in the Israeli Military (think the Israeli NSA), Aviv shares concrete advice that can allow you to accelerate the growth of your junior engineers so that they can become productive, mid-level de...
As engineering leaders, we have a responsibility to our organizations and their bottom line. At the same time, we’re leading humans, not automatons, and understanding and supporting the people in our org is both the right thing to do as a person and the most effective way to deliver business value. In this wide-ranging discussion Rukmini Reddit, SVP of Engineering, Platform at Slack shares five questions she asks throughout her org to support herself and her team when dealing with change...
Kit Colbert has taken an atypical route to becoming the CTO of a large, publicly traded corporation. He started at VMWare 20 years ago as an individual contributor and worked his way up to CTO leading a 2,300 person engineering org. In this fascinating interview, we walk through Kit’s progression from junior IC to senior engineering leadership and reflect on some of the lessons learned.
Naturally, as CTOs, we often think about our job as to work with developers to ship software. But what does that mean in a world of frameworks, low code, no code, and even GenAI solutions? In this fascinating interview, I got to chat with Jeremiah Stone, CTO of SnapLogic about heuristics for finding the right level of abstraction for delivering business value, how to engage with and support citizen development, and how to deal with shadow IT in a world where even the new marketing intern is w...
Over the last decade Josh Builder has led engineering at The Orchard (music), SoulCycle (fitness), Rent the Runway (fashion), and now Signify Health (healthcare). None of these were deep tech companies, but in each case, he found a core of engineering excellence and used that to entice and retain top talent to join his team - despite not being able to match big tech salaries. In this interview, Josh takes us through his process for selecting the right CTO opportunities to accept, then bu...
In this week's interview with Albert Wenger, Managing Partner at Union Square Ventures, we discussed the changes that LLMs might bring - to our engineering teams, our products, and our society. We looked at the potential impact on how we write software, what software we need, opportunities for both incumbents and AI native startups, and the broader impact on the workforce and society as we deeply adopt Generative AI over the next 5-10 years. According to Albert, right now we’re both in t...
Raji Subramanian brings a wide range of experience to the role of CTO at Opendoor (Nasdaq OPEN). She honed her technical chops culminating in a Principal Engineer role at Amazon and then ran engineering orgs at Yahoo and Amazon and cofounded which was acquired by Opendoor.In this wide ranging interview, we discuss everything from the trend towards single threaded leadership within technical orgs, sustaining innovation in larger technical orgs, the importance of respecting failure, and...
This week I interviewed Yoav Grossman, VP of Product & Engineering at about how they went about identifying potential use cases for LLMs within their product, spiking, implementing, and releasing an offering. It’s a great mini-case study of the steps involved in adding GenAI to a product thoughtfully, but quickly. Spinach is a smaller startup, but the lessons are applicable to companies of all sizes, and previously, Yoav was Head of Product for Asurion Health, Head of Glob...
Just before our CTO summits in May I got to chat with Mike Boufford, CTO at Greenhouse about his experiences in getting up to speed with GenAI and LLMs as a non-expert.In this thought provoking interview Mike explains how he got up to speed with the capabilities of the latest LLMs and his thoughts on how CTOs should think strategically about engaging with Generative AI - both for improving the process of writing software and more broadly to rethink their product offerings and even their inter...
Especially when building platform or infrastructure, sometimes it can be difficult for non-technical stakeholders to truly appreciate the value of the work being done.In this interview, Gayatri Iyengar shares her experiences building platform solutions at both Uber and Doordash and how she used storytelling to connect business stakeholders with the real value that her org was delivering.
In this wide ranging discussion, I speak with James Turnbull, SVP Engineering at Sotheby’s about his approach to managing his costs during a downturn. From cloud spend and SaaS costs to prioritizing fewer projects and hiring globally, it’s a great insight into how a traditional enterprise is engaging with a tighter financial environment.
While there has been a major push to return to the office (by many managers and a good number of ICs), when remote is done right, it can reduce costs, provide access to a much wider talent pool, make teams more productive and scale more effectively (beyond a certain team size, every company is distributed). In this interview I chat with Mona Soni about her experiences running a distributed team at a larger company before, during and after the pandemic and some of the lessons she learned to ge...
Do you still have doubts about the wisdom of leveraging LLMs in software development? Maybe you’re not sure how much they can help or how best to get started with them. Or maybe you’re well into the process of experimenting with LLMs for speeding up software development and you’d just like to compare notes?!In this fascinating interview I got to chat with Matt Welsh - Chief Architect and Co-founder of about his practical experiences in leveraging Generative AI for software developmen...
Raffi Krikorian (CTO, Emerson Collective) talks with Josh Nesbit (Founding Member, Widespread Care) about what it looks like to be mission driven in his work.
Raffi Krikorian (CTO, Emerson Collective) talks with Jim O’Leary (VP of Engineering, Signal) about what it looks like to be mission driven in his work.
Raffi Krikorian (CTO, Emerson Collective) talks with Sam Quigley (CEO, Kicho Inc) about what it looks like to be mission driven in his work.
Raffi Krikorian (CTO, Emerson Collective) talks with Max Roser (Researcher at University of Oxford / Founder & Director of Our World In Data) about what it looks like to be mission driven in his work.
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