Scaling a Team Globally Across Multiple Sites

Monica Bajaj

Vice President of Engineering at Okta, Inc.



"People around the globe are more accessible than ever before. More and more organizations use a remote work environment or have distributed teams who work in different time zones. Talent is pulled from all over the world. And distributed teams can work on products or projects around the clock. In order to build strong globally distributed teams, extra effort is needed."

Actions taken

"I've been a leader in engineering organizations of all sizes. Below are a few things I've learned that have helped our teams stay unified – even as they get more distributed."

Lessons learned

  • Create an Awesome Onboarding Experience
    • "New engineers should not feel overwhelmed from day one. Have a buddy assigned to the new hire. Invest in reusable training materials for onboarding the engineers."
  • Consistent Screening During the Interview Process
    • "Interviewing is an art. As a hiring manager, train your employees how to interview for a certain role via a phone screen or an in-person interview."
  • Hire the Right Talent
    • "As much as hiring a talented engineer is important, it's more important to hire the right person. You need quick learners, people who are comfortable with change, and people who can look at the big picture, even when it's ambiguous."
  • Shared Tools
    • "Investing in tools and sharing testing frameworks across groups is vital. This will help the engineering teams think about learning tools and focus more on building code on top of these tools."
  • Communication. Communication. Communication.
    • "We have each employee provide a brief blog about themselves (personal and professional background, hobbies, uniqueness) when they are first hired, and it's shared throughout the organization. Weekly video conferencing brings the entire team together. Having 1-on-1 interactions builds rapport to understand the challenges, successes, and opportunities together. We also facilitate travel across the globe, which helps team members get to know each other along with culture at specific sites."
  • Coding Standards
    • "As code is built up with several hands and heads touching it, it's more important to have coding standards defined."
  • Code Reviews
    • "Code review should be necessary to enhance the overall code quality of the product. Having regular code reviews, unit testing, and preflight testing prior to submitting the code is important. As teams are distributed across the globe, it also helps in distributing the knowledge."
  • Automation
    • "Unit tests, regression tests, functional tests, and interoperability tests should all be automated to ensure that the focus is on trying actual uses cases and customer workflows."
  • Testing the Product at Scale
    • "When hundreds of developers add or integrate with fully tested code, we're adding more quality and reliability to the overall codebase. Framework-based automated testing also helps enhance testing across modules, which keeps them integrated and isolated at the same time."

Source: Scale to Build High-Performing Engineering Teams

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Monica Bajaj

Vice President of Engineering at Okta, Inc.

Engineering LeadershipCommunicationOrganizational StrategyCulture DevelopmentEngineering ManagementPerformance MetricsFeedback TechniquesTechnical ExpertiseTechnical SkillsProgramming

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