Bootcamp Graduate to Engineering Manager
VP of Engineering at Pathstream
"I was working with a team as a contractor because they were short on leadership. The team had grown to a size where they really needed an engineering manager. They didn't have anybody available who had been an Engineering Manager before, and they were struggling to find anybody externally."
The company found someone who was a relatively junior developer, who had just nine months of developing experience. She had previously worked as a manager at other companies, such as a cafe. In addition, she had coached a soccer team for a number of years. When she was hired, she was considered to be very junior. However, it became apparent that she was, in fact, the best leader in her division, and that she may suit an Engineering Manager role. They put her in the role and told her that she was in charge of crafting the team and didn't give her any history around how tech companies usually form teams. Her managerial experience from non-tech related fields was actually her strength. She always made sure there was a strong team identity, the team was protected from negative external things happening in the company, and she was extremely rigorous at producing great documentation on both the systems and the team's processes. She made sure everybody had a position and a clear role. By ensuring everyone had a clear sense of the role they played in the team, she was able to make people feel like they had a purpose. She also asked everybody in the team to spend one day a week, until they were done, creating tutorials for every piece of software they used. This information was used for onboarding, and it allowed her team to offer the dream onboarding experience to new hires.
"She always made sure there was a strong team identity, the team was protected from negative external things happening in the company, and she was extremely rigorous at producing great documentation on both the systems and the team's processes."
The promotion of this woman to a managerial role was a huge success - in part because she was ignorant of the conventional practices tech firms follow. The tech team she led had a lot of fun and shipped incredibly efficiently. There are skills in leadership that can be learned about from outside of a technology field. I now look to hire coding bootcamp grads who have previous leadership experience, as those are the people I want to promote and move into management positions.
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