intro

Unlike many of my peers, I am blatantly unorganized, overly friendly at work, unconventionally frank, and someone who once crashed into a LinkedIn VP on one of those hoverboards that we later learned spontaneously catches on fire.

intro
the modern expectation of an engineering manager (Photo by Mehdi / Unsplash)

To date, I’ve had a number of people ask me about engineering management, which until recently I’ve been hesitant to field any questions - not because I’m stingy with my time, but because I believed I had nothing special to offer. When my title changed from individual contributor to manager, the responsibilities didn't change overnight. I didn’t go to sleep as an iOS engineer one night and wake up an EM the next morning. Over time, as my weekly lines of code eventually declined to 0 and my friends started calling me “manager Melissa”, I found myself reflecting on my approach to this role.

Most people who write on this topic have impressive reputations, years of experience (see Lara Hogan and Charity Majors) and valuable lessons to share. On the other hand, I am new to the game and possess a lot of traits not typically associated with being a good manager.

Unlike many of my peers, I am:
- blatantly unorganized
- overly friendly at work
- unconventionally frank
- someone who once crashed into a LinkedIn VP on one of those hoverboards that we later learned spontaneously catches on fire.

However, as demand for software engineers skyrockets and there is renewed emphasis on attracting and more importantly, retaining good engineering talent, the job of a manager must evolve in conjunction.

A great engineering manager is now far from the conventional “fetch me coffee” boss archetype. The role now requires that someone be the perfect blend of compassionate and technical (whatever that means), a fierce advocate and coach for each unique report; all the while accommodating leadership and partner teams’ requests that they wanted yesterday.

I think my misfit qualities, with some entropic assistance, could actually be a creative approach to fulfilling these Superman expectations. I’ll test this theory through uncensored commentary and personal anecdotes from all the different aspects of this role, from hiring to sprint processes to the importance of napping. Whether you’re thinking about becoming a manager or just plain curious about this role, I hope you join my journey.