Rapidly Scaling Your Engineering Department

Victor Neo

Interim Head of Engineering at The Carousell



"I was the first engineer to join my company and ended up taking a management role to become the first manager in our team. After a couple of rounds of funding, the company decided to go through a huge hiring phase for our engineering department. We grew about 5-6 times larger over the period of a year, from about 20 people to about 120 people, but with this came a lot of problems."

Actions taken

"We held a lot of in-house hiring events and participated a lot in speaking at events. We are based in Singapore but we also set up a new offshore development center in Taiwan. We tried working with recruitment agencies, and while it was mostly misses regarding the candidates they presented us with, one or two agencies were able to give us the candidates we were looking for." "One thing we didn't do well was having sit-down sessions with people to work out our culture. We set up processes around how teams should work together, but everybody had different expectations of these processes. Even the managers we hired were new to the organization, so they had a lot of their own attitudes towards company culture. We would have daily stand-up meetings among our managers, but each person had a different expectation about what the meetings aims were and how managers should conduct themselves." "Ultimately, I decided to spend time speaking with every team, setting up new processes and communication expectations. It felt like we were doing everything from scratch again and that we were building a new engineering department from the ashes of the old one. This took a considerable amount of time, and it took about six months after we had hired everyone to shape the culture in an effective way."

Lessons learned

"When entering situations like this, you shouldn't just have a hiring plan, also have a culture plan. When people join, it's essential to integrate people into your team fully and to ensure they can work productively while meeting all of your team's cultural expectations." "Performance management became much more important. At the beginning, all of our hires were very high quality and because we had a small, close-knit team, everyone knew how everybody else was performing. However, because we had to find ways to interview and hire over 100 candidates, we had to interview thousands of candidates, so we had to find less time-intensive ways to interview and had to set up performance standards to work out where people would fit in the rubric."

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Victor Neo

Interim Head of Engineering at The Carousell

CommunicationCulture DevelopmentEngineering ManagementPerformance MetricsPerformance ReviewsTechnical SkillsCareer GrowthDiversity HiringLeadership RolesTeam & Project Management

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