Location: Sunnyvale, CA
Current Role: Senior Director, Cloud Operations at Thomson Reuters
What’s your background and how did you get into management?
I have a background in computer science and worked several years as a software engineer before moving into project management and people management. I moved into management as the concept of Servant Leadership resonates very deeply with me. Servant Leadership is a lifelong journey that includes the discovery of one’s self, a desire to serve others, and a commitment to lead.
What are the biggest challenges you face?
The biggest challenge I face personally as a manager is remembering that I’m a manager. With an engineering mindset, it is very easy to view all problems as something that can fixes can be engineered for. It turns out you can’t patch a person, :). Every person you interact with is different and trying to find out and remember what motivates each person individually is challenging. Also, carving out time for self-reflection and long-term thinking in a chaotic non-stop environment.
What is your approach to hiring?
I hire for the skills that can’t be learned. If a person is passionate, intellectually curious and can take ownership, everything else is teachable (within reason). Hiring is a lot like throwing a football to a sprinting receiver. I hire for where I think the person is going to be, not where he/she is at the moment.
What’s your advice for managers who are just starting out?
Find a mentor you are comfortable with and will give you honest feedback. Management is hard and you need to be able to look yourself in the mirror for honest assessment of how you’re doing. Read a lot. Listen a lot. Take time to reflect.
Whats your work day like and how do you manage your time, emails, etc.?
This is something I’m struggling with. I try very hard to structure time so that I have blocks of uninterrupted time. Mornings are usually meetings and a quick review of email (most of my co-workers are on the East Coast). Afternoons I reserve for more long-term, strategic thinking around organization and roadmaps. End of the day I do another session of email.
What’s a personal habit that contributes to your success?
Servant Leadership as mentioned above. I also highly value psychological safety which is the concept of creating an environment that encourages people to speak freely and contribute without retribution.
Share an internet resource or tool that you can’t live without.
Haven’t found a good one really. Wikipedia 🙂
If you could recommend one book to managers, what would it be and why?
Alan Mulally and the Fight to Save Ford Motor Company is one that comes mind. Great book on how Mulally changed the culture of Ford.
Where can we go to learn more about you? (LinkedIn, Twitter, Github, etc.)
This series asks engineering managers to share their experiences with the intent of helping other engineering managers learn and improve. Have someone you want to see featured or questions you think we should ask? Contact me.