The Engineer/Manager Pendulum

Should you be a manager? Or should you be an engineer? The old wisdom used to say that you should pick a lane and stick to it, but this is bad advice. The best tech leads I have ever worked with are ones who have done time as a manager, learning how to influence and persuade others, or how to connect their work to business goals. The best engineering managers I have worked with are never more than a few years away from hands-on coding, because they periodically go back to the well to refresh their skills. And the most powerful senior engineering leaders of all stripes? tend to be people who have done both, swinging back and forth between management and engineering over the course of their careers. Repeatedly. Like a pendulum.

We’ll talk about how this benefits companies as well as individuals, and about how to craft the sociotechnical systems that encourage this kind of career development. We’ll show you how to convince your leadership hierarchy to buy into this model. And we’ll talk about how you can successfully move back into an engineering role, even if it’s been a long time or you aren’t sure how to do it.


Charity Majors

CTO @Honeycombio

Charity is the cofounder and CTO at, which pioneered observability. She has worked at companies like Facebook, Parse, and Linden Lab as an engineer and manager, but always seems to end up responsible for the databases. She loves free speech, free software and single malts.

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Wednesday Nov 30 / 12:50PM PST ( 50 minutes )


Staff Plus Engineering Management Career People and Culture


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