If you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life. It may be a cliché, but I can honestly say that I love what I do.
For the past 20+ years, I’ve held a variety of executive engineering roles, culminating in my current role as Chief Engineering Officer at Boomi, a pioneer of cloud-based integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS) and now a category . Leading global Software as a Service (SaaS) company.
So, what exactly does a Chief Engineering Officer do? CEngO is responsible for executing the company’s product vision and delivering measurable value to customers. To do this, we hire, mentor and lead great teams that build, test, deliver, secure, maintain systems that help meet and ideally exceed customer requirements. and operates.
how i plan my time
My responsibilities cover a wide spectrum, but I try to block off chunks of time for the most important priorities. For example, I try to reserve 35-40 percent of my time for tactical operations, 30-35 percent dedicated to people, and 15-20 percent for innovation and strategic thinking.
making time for my team
As this role is all about leading teams, I make sure to devote enough time to this. Each week, I spend at least 30 minutes one-on-one with each of my direct reports, and an hour together in our staff meetings with key stakeholders from other teams such as HR, CISO, Purchasing, etc.
[ Also read President of an ethics reporting provider: A day in the life. ]
We have monthly Ask Me Anything sessions, but I also love skip-level online coffee chat sessions with team members. These are very informal get-togethers that give people a chance to get to know me and vice versa. I also support our Patent Council, along with our Chief Legal Officer, and sponsor employee resource groups including immigration, as well as R&D DEI initiatives, which are important to our culture.
strategic operational responsibilities
That’s what most people think is the job of an engineering leader. As part of Boomi’s executive leadership team, we spend two hours each week discussing key metrics, what’s important to the business, what’s driving the market, and so on. It is important that we do this to keep up with the pulse of our thousands of customers and ensure that we are bringing the best of Boomi to them.
I work closely with the Chief Innovation Officer to review biweekly updates from each team. One of the things we use to focus these updates on is the idea of ”highlights and headlights.” Highlights are achievements you are proud of and want to share with the team. Headlights are risks – those “deer in the headlights” moments we don’t want to be taken by surprise, so we help teams mitigate those risks or remove roadblocks.
And then of course there’s the day-to-day work of running engineering for a large, innovative SaaS business. I need to pay attention to how the teams are doing on roadmap delivery, technical debt, defects, maintenance, service uptime, performance, cost, working with partners, etc.
It’s easy to get caught up in tactical work, so I make sure to reserve time for high-level planning and strategy. This means following tech news and blogs to stay abreast of the latest technology trends, tracking market news, reading the latest analyst research, meeting with my peers at our private equity portfolio companies, and much, much more.
[ Related read Software developer: A day in the life ]
It is important to me not only to be on top of technology, but also to understand where we are taking the business in the future. This approach has helped Gartner position Boomi as a leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Integration Platform as a Service (EiPaaS) in 2021 for eight consecutive years.
Engineer to Executive
My background is in engineering, and I’m still a maker at heart. When I first started working in software development, I did consulting work for Fortune 100 companies in a variety of industries, including a large UK telecommunications vendor, a market-leading US grain producer and even a nuclear power plant. Also included inside. What really piqued my interest was seeing the impact of my work on these mission-critical applications.
Sometimes you need to pursue a sideways career to broaden your experience. And sometimes that step will feel like a risk.
I realized early on that you can learn a lot in a role. Sometimes you need to pursue a sideways career to broaden your experience. And sometimes that step will feel like a risk.
For example, at one point in my career I was running an engineering team for a foundational technology for all of Oracle’s application products. But I realized I needed to learn more about business strategy to prepare myself for the next career level, so I took a big risk and decided to move to a new product strategy team as an individual contributor. Left that stable management role for. I learned all the ropes as a newbie, and later led a small customer success/engineering team for a new integration product.
[ Also read The new CEO: Chief Empathy Officer ]
That bet paid off over time by opening many doors. Oracle’s acquisition spree over the next few years gave me the opportunity to drive development strategy for thousands of engineers, sharpened my leadership experience, and gave me countless other learning opportunities. I was moving back into an engineering leadership role to build a highly visible cloud DevOps team, which led to increased responsibilities for cloud provisioning of all middleware products.
Looking back, it took time, but that one risk propelled my career toward executive leadership.
Ultimately, what makes an engineering leader successful is the ability to foster effective collaboration among not only engineers, but people across the business. To do this effectively, you need a broad base of experience and a deep empathy for what the rest of the business does.
Ultimately, what makes an engineering leader successful is the ability to foster effective collaboration among not only engineers, but people across the business.
The role of “translator” is the most challenging aspect. It is easy for other executives to view engineering as a bunch of technical experts and consider their ideas or requests not business-oriented enough. You will need to build trust in R&D in the executive team and help them develop an understanding of what R&D does.
On the other hand, you engineers will also need to understand that we serve businesses, and that we have limited budgets and need to manage capacity while remaining competitive, so not all technical projects will be funded. .
This is the reality of software development across industries. Any engineering executive leadership role helps translate that between the people who make stuff and those who build businesses around that stuff, so that everyone leads the organization’s success.
Mentoring for budding engineering leaders
If you’re thinking about going into software engineering, here’s my advice: just do it. It is a high-demand career, and there is a persistent shortage of strong talent in the industry. Once you get started, the opportunities are almost limitless. And there’s never been a better time to do so, with so many technological advances that have lowered the barriers to entry.
As you move into management, however, it’s important to remember that your job is no longer to code – it’s to meet customer needs and meet business goals. When you’re an engineering leader, you don’t just need to build the best technology framework – you need to solve customer problems.
This is a great area. If you enjoy problem-solving, there are lots of interesting problems to solve as both an engineer and a leader. You’ll have many opportunities to advance your career. And you’ll really make a significant impact. best of luck!
[ What is a ‘day in the life’ like in your role? If you’d like to participate in this series, reach out here! ]