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A New Manager In Singapore

Victor Neo

Interim Head of Engineering at The Carousell

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Problem

"I was one of the first engineers to join my company. I initially worked as an individual contributor, but a story I read online about Jessica McKellar called 'This Is What Impactful Engineering Leadership Looks Like', motivated and inspired me to become a manager. However, because I didn't have any mentors, I began to run into some difficulties."

Actions taken

"My company is based in Singapore. In this part of the world, we don't have very strongly established engineering management practices. In most companies, when you start having one-to-ones, these meetings tend to be initiated by HR initially. However, in our company one-to-ones and people management processes were always initiated by the engineering team. My first few one-to-ones were awkward, as it was very difficult to get people to be willing to open up about their concerns. There was no clear path in terms of how I should approach these things. In addition, a lot of the materials available online for learning about management were focussed on American or European cultures and didn't work well for our company due to cultural differences. My first step for overcoming the cultural differences was to reach out to mentors in Singapore and through our investor network. We started with a couple of people from there, and the people we worked well with are still our technical advisors today. I also joined some tech leadership communities such as a weekly software leaders newsletter and an engineering managers community on Slack. I could join discussions and see the issues that other managers were facing."

Lessons learned

"Moving to a management path is a career switch. It's important to brush up on your business and management skills, so search out materials that will help you to help your team. You aren't just a technical contributor anymore and you may only see the effects of changes you make today in a year's time."


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Victor Neo

Interim Head of Engineering at The Carousell


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