Plato Elevate Winter Summit has been announced (Dec 7th-8th)

🔥

Back to resources

Climbing Up the Engineering Ladder

Personal Growth
Career Path

30 October, 2020

Bhavin Surela
Bhavin Surela

Director of Engineering at Twilio

Bhavin Surela, Director of Engineering at Twilio, recalls his experience of climbing up the engineering ladder and emphasizes the importance of a proactive approach and being able to solve the most troublesome problems.

Problem

I climbed up the software engineering ladder all the way from an individual contributor to managing multiple teams and multiple managers. Growing rapidly in my career was something I aspired to and was willing to work hard for. I wasn’t the type of person who would wait for the time to be right but would rather take things into my own hands and solve the most troublesome problems my company was facing at that moment.

Actions taken

I started my way up by identifying the most troublesome problem that the company faced at that moment. You could solve a great number of problems but if those are not what is important to the business, it is very hard to get visibility, let alone recognition for the work that you did. What was troubling my then-company was how to migrate a monolithic application to microservices and how to further scale it.

After thinking about it for a while I came up with an actionable solution. I prepared the architecture and helped build the team that would be responsible to convert a monolithic app into microservices. At that time I was an individual contributor but I was given more responsibilities and was tasked to lead a team of 12 people.

I worked with my manager to make sure that I could stay hands-on and that required creating an ideal job description that would allow me to stay technical while being able to contribute as a leader as well. The fact that the team led by me solved an important problem made the leadership more appreciative and they landed me the responsibilities of a senior manager. Climbing further was much harder and the best way to do it according to me is through succession planning. Building a team that could function autonomously without you being involved. It is easy to think that by doing so you will take yourself out of the job, but as a matter of fact, I believe it is the most effective way for a person to be able to solve the next burning problem in the company. I hired a number of smart people and trained them to self organize. This allowed me to be involved to solve problems at the next level.

I was later promoted to a director role and was responsible for multiple teams and around 30 percent of Engineering. After learning more about that role, I decided to move to another company where I was able to repeat the process again.

Lessons learned

  • Learn about the most challenging problems your company needs to solve and build a team of people who could do that. Be proactive and offer your help to solve those problems.
  • When you are climbing up the ranks, support from your peers and different stakeholders is equally important as the one from your managers. Nurture those relationships and don’t burn the bridges with your peers as you climb to the higher levels of the company ladder.

Discover Plato

Scale your coaching effort for your engineering and product teams
Develop yourself to become a stronger engineering / product leader


Related stories

How to Strengthen Your Team Pitch

29 November

Vadim Antonov, Engineering Manager at Meta, details his journey to improve his personal hiring process and team pitch.

Alignment
Personal Growth
Hiring
Coaching / Training / Mentorship
Changing Company
Vadim Antonov

Vadim Antonov

Engineering Manager at Facebook

Why Performance Feedback Should be More Frequent

2 December

Anurag Jain, a leader at Fortinet, delivers his tactic for reducing reliance on annual reviews and focusing on a regular feedback loop involving one-on-ones.

Feelings Aside
Personal Growth
Meetings
Feedback
Anurag Jain

Anurag Jain

Leadership Role at Fortinet

Increasing Collaboration Within Your Team

2 December

Anurag Jain, a leader at Fortinet, discusses his strategy to promote growth within his teams, using servant leadership concepts.

Scaling Team
Personal Growth
Leadership
Internal Communication
Collaboration
Anurag Jain

Anurag Jain

Leadership Role at Fortinet

Building trust as a new Manager

23 November

Neelima Annam, Sr Director Information Technology at Outmatch, shares her insight into her growth path of evolving her management style to build trust.

Alignment
Personal Growth
Conflict Solving
Coaching / Training / Mentorship
New Manager
Neelima Annam

Neelima Annam

Sr. Director Information Technology at Outmatch HCM

What it takes to become a great product manager

19 November

James Engelbert, Head of Product at BT, shares his deep understanding of the traits of a successful product manager and how to get aligned with the organization’s path to success.

Product Team
Personal Growth
Leadership
Strategy
James Engelbert

James Engelbert

Head of Product at BT

You're a great engineer.
Become a great engineering leader.

Plato (platohq.com) is the world's biggest mentorship platform for engineering managers & product managers. We've curated a community of mentors who are the tech industry's best engineering & product leaders from companies like Facebook, Lyft, Slack, Airbnb, Gusto, and more.