How I Went from Engineer to Manager Overnight, Lessons Learned

Published on Jan 24, 2023

26 min read

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In this video, we follow the journey of Swathi Sundar, an engineering manager at Benchling and ex-Uber, who, as a tech lead, was unexpectedly made an engineering manager overnight. Through her personal experiences, Swathi shares the challenges and lessons she learned during this transition period. From managing expectations and leading a team to deal with the pressure and responsibilities of the new software engineering manager role, this video offers valuable insights for anyone looking to move into a management position in the tech industry. Watch now to learn how she navigated this sudden change and emerged as a successful engineering leader.

Swathi also shares her strategies for effectively communicating with her team and stakeholders, as well as how she adapted to the new responsibilities and expectations that come with being an engineering manager. Swathi covers creating and growing a new tech lead. Finally, she also provides tips on transitioning to a new company as an engineering manager. This video is a must-watch for anyone looking to transition smoothly from an engineering role to a management role in the tech industry. With Swathi’s personal experiences and practical advice, you’ll gain valuable insights on navigating this challenging but rewarding journey.

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RESOURCES

CHAPTERS

  • 0:00 Introduction
  • 0:20 How Swathi became a manager overnight
  • 1:02 How big was your team and what did you do?
  • 2:50 What are some things that you quickly had to get up to speed with on management?
  • 4:48 Growing a new tech lead
  • 6:13 Difficulty letting go….
  • 7:44 Resources that helped you become a manager
  • 9:13 New relationship with direct reports
  • 12:28 Changes during COVID pandemic
  • 15:50 Performance management
  • 16:39 Final lessons from Uber
  • 18:17 Moving to a new company
  • 21:03 Additional advice on transitioning to be a manager at a new company
  • 22:23 Managing sideways and up
  • 25:00 Do you miss coding?
  • 26:10 Engineers code engineering managers write.
  • 29:55 Parting advice

TRANSCRIPT

Vidal: [00:00:00] Good afternoon today. Have with me Swathi Sundar. She’s ex-Uber, and an engineering manager now at Benchling. Welcome to Manager’s Club.

Swathi: Thank you. Thank you for having me here, Vidal.

Vidal: It’s great to have you. We’re gonna talk today about just, being thrown into being an engineering manager, becoming an engineering manager overnight.

So with that, we’re just get right into it. Swathi, tell us, how did you become an engineering manager overnight?

Swathi: So I think it starts off with an unfortunate story. Uber in [00:00:30] 2019 had a layoff. And unfortunately some of folks on my leadership chain got impacted by it. So I was approached by my skip level manager and was like, would you like to take on the team for whom you have been a tech lead on?

I’ve had prior conversations with them, it was not like complete surprise, but the fact that it happened when we were least expecting it was definitely a change.

Vidal: So tell me more about that, so I guess your manager got laid off or something? Yeah. I actually was laid off [00:01:00] at that time at Uber also, so I remember those days.

So then what happened? How big was your team and what did you do?

Swathi: Yeah it was a weird, interesting scenario because I had actually been on vacation. Before going on vacation I had actually had the conversation with my manager in terms of, What’s gonna be the opportunity for me becoming a manager in this team?

Do I have to start looking out for opportunities outside of this team? And I think he, he was actually pretty open about it, which I actually completely respect him for. He was [00:01:30] like, so I don’t think you have an opportunity on this team unless I don’t have a role here, which unfortunately what ended up happening.

So I was on a vacation in Europe, my skip level called me and I said, Hey, Uber’s having this layoff, as you might have heard, and things have been changed. When you come back, do you wanna take on this role? I’m like, sure, because I was still putting up with putting pieces together in my mind, because I’m still digesting the fact that okay. This happened and there [00:02:00] were like other folks in the company who got impacted as well. But also it’s this is a team I’ve been part of for a while and I know the people really well know the product, know the tech. I was like, yeah, I will, I’ll jump in. So it was a, I’d say overnight change for sure.

In terms of the changes itself, I think it was a combination of factors, because one is, me trying to find closure and find, trying to find answers to like what actually happened. And then the other part is actually just working with the people [00:02:30] and trying to manage their emotions as well. I think that was, I would say my introduction to just going into engineering management.

Vidal: Let’s talk a little bit about some of the things you’re exposed to, right? It’s great that you were already interested in being a manager, right? So that’s good, but now you got to be a manager. I think you wrote in your medium article, about welcome to the dark side.

So what are some things that you quickly had to get up to speed with on management?

Swathi: Yeah, I think there’s a few. I think one is just the [00:03:00] exposure to a lot of context, which you generally are shielded from in terms of people’s pay, performance, feedback just like where are we with respect to, like progress in terms of like projects uh, commitments across the team, just that entire spectrum.

You also get exposed to a lot of like personal events that are happening in people’s life. In terms of breakups, they’re planning for a kid. I think those are things I was not actually ready for in my mind. Just to be completely [00:03:30] opened up to that spectrum of just details about people. I think there was one.

Two, and I think the other part, which I initially struggled a bit was when you were the tech lead, you have context or control over the project, the execution, what’s happening. And then when you move into that management role there’s almost like a gap, which I initially failed to recognize.

Because the team has gotten used to seeing me as a tech lead and working with that. And now that I’ve moved into management [00:04:00] role, I realize that things that I used to do before somebody else in the team needs to step up to do that. And it’s not, everybody doesn’t have interest in all the things that I used to do before, which was a rude awakening for me.

I think I was interested in oh, moving the metrics. I was interested in like making our on call better. I was interested in doing variety of stuff, like mentoring, coaching, teaching, recruiting. I loved it, but, and then I realized [00:04:30] some other person on the team might not be interested in all of that, so getting to terms with it and understanding each and individual’s strength.

Their interest, their passion in terms of their career, like where they want to take it to, and mapping it to like the business context and requirements. I would say was the first kind of thing that I learned by doing as a manager.

Vidal: Let’s talk a little bit about that. So obviously you’re a great tech lead, right? You’re into mentoring, improving the team, driving the metrics, and now all of a. You’re the manager and you have no tech lead. Okay? You have to create a [00:05:00] tech lead, and some people don’t wanna do those jobs. Surprise. So how did you, what’d you do? How did you resolve that?

Swathi: Yeah, I think it’s, one was just recognizing that. There’s a different way to do things than what I used to do before. I think the, one of the engineers who rolled into a tech lead role’s, a complete introvert almost opposite to me, I’d say. And the communication styles are very different. I used to go into a meeting, I could present a case, but he was little bit more written [00:05:30] communication oriented.

I think finding a place. Cementing his confidence and making sure that okay as a tech lead, like their styles were too um, was very important. And I love doing that. It was a journey itself because there will be things where it’s so no, you used to do that. I’m not going to do that that way.

Was a interesting i’s say a negotiation in terms of figuring out it. And I think the other part is like, it doesn’t have to be one person doing it. I could just delegate things across the team, like driving [00:06:00] engineering verticals could be multiple things. Like one person doesn’t need to do driving end-to-end quality, operational excellence creating social events for the team.

It was just deciding and delegating between rest of the folks in the team.

Vidal: So some people when they become a manager, they have difficulty letting go of things. Did you have any difficulty doing that?

Swathi: I definitely did, and I think I’m still grateful for one of my friends and engineers who came and said, “Swathi, I think it’s okay. I think you can let it go. We got this, we will come back to [00:06:30] you.” And I think I still remember him saying, You don’t need to be mother hen here, we got this. I think that phrase and that term just struck me. I think subconsciously I’ve been doing that because these are things that I used to do before.

Okay. I wanna make sure that everybody’s doing it right as well. But that just that candid feedback was very helpful. The fact that there was a space for the person provided that candid feedback. I was also grateful for that. [00:07:00] Okay. is definitely hard. I think once I internalized that, the next part was like active delegation.

Basically I started writing a doc, putting list of things like, okay, these are things that I used to do before. Okay. Either volunteers for like things that you are interested in, who wants to write this? Versus okay, we don’t have anybody’s interest in there. And then figuring out are there things that we could actually distribute it across the team, outside of our team look for people because the team became smaller. We lost our manager. I kind took on like [00:07:30] the manager role. So just leaning on other managers, other engineers was also helpful. But having like a clear list of, okay, A, B, C, D, this is what I used to do, who wants to take this up?

Was very much helpful.

Vidal: Were there any like resources that helped you, become a manager, like on the spot?

Swathi: I think I’d say. Two, there’s tons of good books out there. One that I actually kinda almost put it into use is this [00:08:00] book called, So You’re In Charge Now What? I think, ah, that book, I think it actually has like, oh, these are the questions that you wanna ask to actually gather context from people.

It’s very actionable, which I loved. But two, I would say is just my circle of engineering manager, friends and family. I think my previous manager is who, whom I used to report to at Microsoft and Uber. I used to reach out to them for a lot of things because I would go and be like, [00:08:30] because it’s, there’s too much.

One is managing my emotions and to manage my emotions. I had my own set of like insecurities or like questions, uncertainty, what’s happening in the company. So I reach out to like other leaders with an Uber whom I had contacts with, and try to gather context about like this, what’s happening in company engine general to keep.

Sanity for a lack of a better word. But then also I’ll reach out to my previous managers even to my previous manager who was actually impacted. I’ll go and be like, Hey, this is what’s happening. This is how I’m thinking. Does this make sense? [00:09:00] Just leaning on that network of people was super helpful, both from a professional standpoint, but also from a personal sanity standpoint.

Vidal: That’s nice that you’re able to keep in touch with the previous manager. Lemme ask you a question. How did your relationship change now with your direct reports? Cuz I think another challenge people have is, used to be coworkers with them, they were your friends. And now really, they’re not your friend anymore, right?

Like you’re their boss. And so [00:09:30] how did that go? How did that feel?

Swathi: I think initially I was in denial because I’m like, no, nothing changes. As I said, like some of them are like, like really close friends. I’ve been on trips with them. I know their rent, entire family. I know their kids’ name, pet’s name, I’ve.

Been at their places even stayed over, had fun parties. So initially I was in denial. I’m like, oh nothing’s changing. And people used to joke around on my team oh, here comes the new boss, and things like that. So I think initially I was like, oh this is, nothing is changing. But I think I soon realized [00:10:00] there is some power dynamics that’s always there and I think I started becoming a bit more conscious because realize it’s all about finding a balance. Because there will be times where it’s oh, you used to do the things that you used to do before. For example, as a tech lead, I used to take very strong opinions in terms of some of the technical directions of the team.

And then I distinctly remember, I was in one conversation where a couple of engineers on my team were discussing a technical architecture. [00:10:30] and I went in after some meeting and then I saw them discussing and then I pitched in with a strong opinion. And then I later got a feedback saying, Swathi, you’re taking sides, ah, discussion and you’re taking sides.

And then I think that incident probably was something that triggered in my mind where I’m like, okay, wait, dynamics is changing. You can still have these personal relationships, great. But I think in the professional setting, there are some things. Mindful of, I think I started figuring [00:11:00] out or rather I was trying to figure out the balance between okay, mentoring them versus handholding them.

If I’m focusing too much on the strategy, how do I focus on the execution? I think giving candid feedback about someone’s performance was definitely interesting transition because I think initially I used to do that with a very open mind. I’m like, this is what’s happening. This is what’s not happening.

Because at that point I’m like, I’m providing raw feedback. But as a manager, you’re not only providing raw feedback, you are also [00:11:30] providing advocating for that person. You’re also providing input into their compensation. So you wanna avoid biases. I would say I was practicing for quite a few months.

Vidal: How long did it take you to feel comfortable?

Swathi: Ah, that’s a great question. I dunno if I can quantify it. I would say I’m still trying to find balances in some others, but I think there are definitely some areas in terms of like execution, managing carrier, providing feedback um, negotiation.

I think all of that, [00:12:00] I’ve gotten much more comfortable over the years. There are still times when it comes to sensitive topic about people’s personal life and how that’s affecting work. That is definitely an area I’m still trying to figure out like what’s the best way to navigate that.

Vidal: Yeah, it’s an interesting thing.

You were thrown in the deep end and then you it got worse, right? Because you were, this was October, 2019, right? You became a manager, and then in March of [00:12:30] 2020, the pandemic strikes and that totally turns everything upside down.

So how did that go for you?

Swathi: Yeah, I think that was, I’d say very chaotic. stressful period. Now when I look back, I’m like, oh wait, I learned a lot of things during those times. But going through that phase, during that time of the journey was definitely hard. I think there’s a couple of reasons for it.

One is just from a team perspective. They had just come, we [00:13:00] all had just come off reeling from a layoff and the impacts of it and still coming to terms with it, and there were already. Like rumors of another round of layoffs that is coming through. And you get to read a lot when you go on blind and people are like on Blind a lot.

And then yeah, Blind is pretty active and then they would come back with a lot of just things that they’re concerned about, worried about that. But that’s also something that freaks you out as well. In the [00:13:30] meantime, I’m, I think if I’m not getting the timelines wrong, I think this is when California Prop 22 and like changes around what we need for Uber also came in.

So it was basically a interesting set of few months, but California Prop 22, Uber trying to figure out how to how to respond to it, how to prepare for it, and then covid hit, and then there’s remote work. Everybody’s trying to figure that out. And then three, that’s unfortunately May, [00:14:00] June, roughly that time is also the performance management time for Uber, like the performance cycle happens too.

So I think for some people they were really worried about okay what this means. I think a couple of things that helped there was having a very supportive management group within the company. I think my manager at that time, my manager, my, even to my director I’ve set up calls with my director and be like, how is our team doing?

For real? Are there things that we need to worry about? Because it’s not just about me worrying about me [00:14:30] anymore, I’m worrying about a bunch of people, other people as well which is unavoidable. So I’ll set up meetings with them. They couldn’t share much, but they were at least giving confidence about like how our team was seen.

And I think that was helpful because that was helpful for me to get a sense of security, I would say, for lack of a better word. And figuring out, okay, where does that fit for my team? Was also helpful. And then when I was talking to my engineers or [00:15:00] my friends, I would say just acknowledging and sharing the.

it was one of the things I couldn’t hide. I couldn’t, one, I don’t have a lot of information about whether the layoff is happening or what’s happening. Two, I realized that instead of making something up, just being transparent is the best way to go through this phase. So whatever context that I have, I would share with the entire team openly.

I would openly acknowledge that as much as I’m freaked out, these are all things that I’m actually hearing from the management too. And also [00:15:30] just build that forum for people to just come and talk about what’s worrying them. And I’ll try to do the best thing to just give a very candid, open, transparent information about what’s happen.

Vidal: When you were the tech lead and now all of a sudden you find yourself in a position where maybe you need to manage them out, or maybe you have to think about who you’re going to lay off in your team, right? If it comes to that. So how is that for you?

Swathi: I think [00:16:00] this is probably a blessing in disguise. I don’t think frontline managers get to choose that in a lot of companies, and thankfully in Uber. I did not have the choice of who gets to stay or who gets to go in the company. So from bright side perspective, I was very thankful I was not put in that spot.

But I also wanted to make sure that who is the decision maker upwards whom I don’t know who it was. So I was basically communicating with like almost three, four levels of my chain in terms of like how the team [00:16:30] is doing

Vidal: I think that’s great. I love talking about Uber because so many things happened there, right? There’s so many great stories. And I know eventually you left Uber. We’re gonna talk about that. But before we leave Uber, any other lessons in management you learned there in your time?

Swathi: I think a lot. I think my management time at Uber was very interesting, very chaotic, very emotional lot of emotions have been experienced on display during that time. But looking back I realized that’s the time I actually learned the most. I felt like I had a accelerated [00:17:00] exposure into management.

And that is due to all the things that happens at Uber. So I’m definitely grateful for that.

Vidal: I was gonna say, yeah, when I worked there, people would say that, one year at Uber was like five years somewhere else. Things were very compressed but please go ahead.

Swathi: Yeah. Yeah. That’s definitely true in terms of other things that kind of learned from Uber’s experience? I think execution just process and execution because it is a dynamic changing world at Uber, because there used to be a time where it’s oh, license for Uber from [00:17:30] London was like revoked.

And then the team that we’re doing in, we actually managing like support and automation for it. So we have to make some changes. Its that on the Prop 22, we are like a high pri project for the entire. You need to manage through that. And then three, like Covid happens, layoff happens. I think just executing in times of chaos.

I think that is something I learned definitely at Uber.

Vidal: I think that’s good. Yes. [00:18:00] Executing in kind of chaos. Yeah. Chaotic environment. So I think that’s great. Now let’s talk about another management experience you had, right? So you left Uber and you went to a new company, Benchling. So tell me how is that transitioning to be a manager at a totally different company?

I assume the culture there is quite different perhaps. How did that go?

Swathi: Yeah, I think so far it’s been great, but I think couple of things that gave me confidence at Uber were the things I [00:18:30] realized, Hey, it’s going to be different here at Benchling, for example, becoming a manager for the team.

You know the tech stack. You have, build relationship with people, and you have the trust, you know the stakeholders. You already know the pm you already know your manager. You have a kind of good stepping stone to build up your management career or experience there. Along with that comes confidence in things that, exposure to things and just everything that comes with it.

I think being in a new place, it’s [00:19:00] completely new. New people, new domain, new technology. You don’t have trust with anybody. You don’t know the tech. I think things that you lean in on as your friends are completely gone and you are starting off new. But thankfully for me, I think when I was at Uber one of my peer managers had gone in on like a paternity leave and I had the opportunity to actually take over his team and manage that too. And I think that gave a different perspective. Then in terms of like just how I operated, I think it gave me a [00:19:30] reflection of like when I don’t know the tech, when I don’t know the people.

The way I operate is completely different from when I know the tech, when I know the people, when I know processing things around it. instinctively, I think went from like a mentoring model to a coaching model because okay, it’s like you don’t know it, so you don’t know the answer to a lot of things.

When you’re going from a tech lead to manager, you know the answer to a lot of things, so you become the point for answering a lot of things [00:20:00] and when you have to reach out to others, you go into, subconsciously I was going into a mentoring model, but then when I was managing a team, with whom I’ve never worked on.

I don’t have context on their projects or anything of that sort. I realized I started asking a lot of questions back to people in my one-on-one, trying to gather context, but also trying to get them to come to a conclusion or trying to get them to conclude, come to a decision making point rather than me deciding something.

That switch was very [00:20:30] key in my, just in my mind in terms of like how I operated, just going from mentoring, I would say, to coaching explicitly.

Vidal: I think that’s really awesome the way you’ve expressed that, right? Because like coaches, they don’t have the answer right. Coaches, they just ask really good questions.

And so since you didn’t know the answer at this company, all you could do was try to ask really good questions, right? And get people to come up with the answer. So I think that’s really brilliant that you you realize that. Do you have some, any other advice [00:21:00] you could share or stories that would help people who were transitioned to be a manager at a new company?

Like you say you don’t know anyone, you’re basically new.

Swathi: Yeah, I think two probably. Two things. One I realized is that people are not very open when you’re the new person there. They might not probably tell you about all the problems in the team. They might not tell you about what’s going well in the team.

Most of the conversations probably start at a very surface level, but in order to dig deeper actually learn this from one of my, his ring [00:21:30] manager friends. One thing that he used to say is ask a quantitative question. Ask people, “Out of 1 to 10 where they think the team is or where they think they are,” and if they give it number less than 10, ask them “What should we do to make it a 10?”

Vidal: I like that question.

Swathi: I really like that so I started asking people that in terms of oh, if I want to figure out like what’s the morale on the team or if I wanted to figure out like how we are doing two, I think this is going back to the book that I referred to which is, [00:22:00] so you’re in charge now.

What? I think it had a bunch of questions there, which I took inspiration from. So I actually used to go around people, almost everybody on my team asking them a bunch of questions in terms of what are the five things that we need to keep on the team and not change at. , what are the three things that we need to change completely on this team?

As a new manager, what do they want me to do? And as a new manager, what are the supremely concerned I might do? When I asked very specific questions like that I realized people were able to give a [00:22:30] very objective answer. I also gathered a lot of context around what’s happening on the team dynamics our code reviews taking a longer time, our partnership, another team are not going so great.

Is the morale of the team low? I think just those pointed questions along with that quantitative scale or like quantitative scale of asking, help me gather a lot of context about, okay what do I need to do? And I. I’m not sure, probably I’m speaking for the people right now whom I ask these questions, but I [00:23:00] felt like that helped me to establish some trust with them because it’s a very open forum.

And I also get to know what they don’t want me to do. So it’s easy for me to avoid making those mistakes not shocking anybody on the team. You immediately

Vidal: Got it. So that’s really good for talking with your team, what did you do to talk with other managers or your management chain, right?

Because you also have to manage sideways and up.

Swathi: Yeah. I think this is probably one thing I’ll probably give close to Benchling. I think [00:23:30] just as a culture, they have this first team mindset culture, I think from Patrick Lencioni’s book where you cannot treat your managers as like part of your team as well.

So you’re part of two teams, not just the team that you manage, but also part of the engineering manager team. I think that was super helpful because I did spend a lot of time just doing one-on-ones with a lot of other engineering managers across the company and it’s a much smaller startup compared Uber.

You start forming connections with like other engineering managers, you start realizing there’s like [00:24:00] common things that you realize about, like what’s slowing your teams down? It’s no longer what, like your team versus my team. It’s like generally what’s slowing us down generally for this startup as a company to grow what do we need to do? And I think I’ve partnered with a bunch of engineering managers to set up like mentorship programs, be part of like recruiting. When you start doing that with your peer managers in multiple initiatives, I think you build some trust with them there outside of like day-to-day execution.

But that also helps when they are your stakeholders or you’re [00:24:30] partnering with them. You have projects you have timelines, negotiations. I think that worked well in terms of upward management. I think this is probably kudos to my manager too.

There is a forum for me to very candidly and transparently communicate with him. Call out inefficiencies on the team, call out inefficiencies on the org, call out inefficiencies in the process, and him being open to it, actually provided a trusted forum to actually exchange ideas. That also becomes easier [00:25:00] in other things when you want to talk about strategy or like vision for the team, figuring out resourcing for the team. That was also helpful.

Vidal: Going from IC to manager, do you miss coding? Oh,

Swathi: Yes, totally. I keep saying this, there is an itch to code a lot of times. I think it comes from the fact that when you code there is this instant gratification. Even if there is a bug, even if there’s an exception, even if like things are completely going wrong, you get that instant [00:25:30] feedback, right? Machines are complicated, but they’re very simple. They tell you what the hell is going wrong at least, and then you go into this puzzles following mode of, oh, I’m gonna debug through this.

I’m gonna find answers. As a manager, you do not have anything to do with instant gratification. You’re having one-on-ones helping shape someone’s career, great. That’s gonna take months if not years. You’re providing constructive feedback and you wanna say your change again, that takes months or years.

So I think I definitely [00:26:00] missed that aspect. Instant gratification or like sense of doing something, sense of achieving something, just seeing the results come through immediately. I think I was definitely missing that. And just the nature of coding, just problem solving, thinking about problems, I definitely miss that.

But what kind of, how I’m dealing with that is I’ve told myself, “Engineers, code engineering managers write.” So I’ve started doing a lot of written communication for my team. [00:26:30] So I’ll basically if have an execution model, I’ll have a doc for it. I’ll write down what the execution model of the team is going to be if you have a new year and strategic planning for the year.

I would actually write that out. If we are going to say do on calls for the team, I’ll write that out. I think I started relying a lot more on return Communi. . And I realized that actually helped out in a couple of ways. One helps to just write down your thoughts and ideas in a more structured format, better, two, easier to share with people, to get a [00:27:00] lot of feedback.

So I could just circulate, even if I have a crazy idea, I could just circulate it, gather feedback on it, and then process it. , it takes the emotions away when I actually write it down. It also takes motions of a lot of heated conversations away as well. So a lot of follow-up conversations became very constructive.

And for me personally, I got that satisfaction of yep, I wrote this down. So weak substitute for coding, but something that I’ve gotten used to at this point.

Vidal: I, I think that’s really great that you write these things down. Let me ask you [00:27:30] a question. Do you write these things for your team?

For example, you said like the on-call procedure or the plan for the year. Do you write it like just by yourself or do you write it with your team, or how do you go about like the actual writing?

Swathi: Yeah. I think it’s depends on the topic in hand. So for example, Long, long range planning for some of my team’s strategy or things.

A lot of [00:28:00] that is driven by the product partners because it’s, it has a deep scientific context in benchling, which I don’t have a lot of, so I rely on them heavily. But then I provide input, but then sharing that out with engineers, so sharing that out with my managers, have to curate it in a certain way and present it.

So that’s a combined initiative with say, product and strategy, trying to put a document. . But then in terms of the day-to-day one, for example, managing on-call or runbook, that’s a combined effort. So I basically lay out the template [00:28:30] or the structure for it. I’ll put in as much detail as I know and I’ll start tagging in people, or I’ll send it out to the team for them to input details in there.

For example, one of the kind of group exercises that we did early this year is what are the tech that areas the team should work on, right? So I basically gather a list from people. People used to do like a anonymous input thing. And then I asked them a bunch of questions in terms of like, why should we do this?

Why should we not do this? What would impact would it [00:29:00] have on the team? And then as a team will go through that. So that’s one where I’ve relied on people and brainstorming ideas with them. And third one is something that I probably do when I have like most context of, let’s. Making sure the execution model for the team needs to work fine.

I’m probably putting the RACI model. Who do we need to partner with? Who do we need to work with? Stakeholder management. If there are a bunch of dependencies with other teams, we need to make sure those comes on time. So I’d say those are the three [00:29:30] kinds. There’s one fourth one, which is more just for myself it’s more like self-reflection in terms of like things that went well and did not went well. That one, I don’t share it with anybody. It’s just for me to write it. Think about what’s happening and then go with it.

Vidal: Swathi, it has been awesome. I’m just so impressed of how you’ve talked about this and it’s clear that you’ve really gotten the hang of becoming a manager and very quickly.

Is there any other maybe parting advice you’d have for people who are like tech [00:30:00] leads like you, who are suddenly thrown into being a manager that might help them?

Swathi: Yeah, I’d say management is just a new sphere of its own needs completely different skillset. Relies a lot on just self-managing and managing others too. And I think it comes with its own stresses. It comes with this own chaotic nature. I think the job itself is chaotic, at least from my experience of what I’ve [00:30:30] been through. But I think just embracing it all overall, it’s a very fulfilling role.

At least for me. It’s been being an engineering manager has, I would say, both humbled me in terms of just working with people of a different class, getting feedback from them. Areas that you thought you were doing so well, then now you’re looking at it from a different perspective. I think it’s a journey.

If people are interested, if people are passionate about it, I would highly encourage them to take it up. As I said, it comes with its own dark side, [00:31:00] but I think overall, for me at least, the bright side have been very fulfilling and I’m grateful for that.

Vidal: That’s awesome. No, I think you’ve done a great job in speaking about it.

Swathi thank you so much for coming on the show. You’ve been really generous with your time. I’ve loved talking with you. If people wanted to reach out to you later, maybe to connect with you, what would be the best

Swathi: way? Yeah, thank you Vial for having me here. I think best way I’m available on LinkedIn.

I’ve been pretty active there, so if folks wanna reach out I’m, you can just send me a ping there.

Vidal: [00:31:30] Sounds good. I’ll put a link in the notes. Thank you. And again, thank you so much for coming on.

Swathi: Thank you for having me. Have a great day.

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