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Mentoring Through Rotating Senior Engineers

Karl Baum

CTO at VTS

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Problem

"We took a look at our Engineering Department, which consisted of eight teams, and realized we needed to leverage our senior engineers, so more junior engineers could benefit from their knowledge and skills."

Actions taken

"We took six of our most senior engineers and made them a part of a mentorship program. This program involved the senior engineers rotating from team to team. We didn't have a lot of senior engineers, and there weren't many to go around, so by rotating the seniors, we were able to ensure all the junior engineers could benefit from their skills. In addition, instead of owning a ticket or feature, the senior engineers would pair on tickets or features with more junior engineers."

"Junior engineers benefitted from this as they were able to level up their skills. In addition, the senior engineers came to understand where each of the teams were struggling, such as with technical debt. We held a bi-weekly meeting to determine common issues the senior engineers were noticing, and they were able to bring this back to the wider group of senior engineers."

Lessons learned

"People like pairing, but if they have never had experience with it you really need to show them the benefits of it. You can't force it on them. Instead, you should gently introduce it to them. Even now our engineers pair with each other more often, and this leads to them leveling up their skills more rapidly."

"We no longer use this form of leverage, as we were a little concerned our senior engineers would become bored if they didn't own any features or areas. However, it was a great success, as it helped to level up the skills of our more junior engineers and it helped to establish pairing as more of a common practice."


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Karl Baum

CTO at VTS


Engineering ManagementMentorship ProgramsCareer GrowthSkill Development

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