Engineering Manager – What’s Expected in the Role?

This is a question that I see get asked all of the time and I figured I'd chime in on my perspective on it. Specifically, this is with the perspective of a software engineering manager in a tech organization. So, what are the primary responsibilities of an engineering manager at a tech company? Well before I dive in, I'll explain my background and then I'll offer up my perspective about the key parts to an engineering manager role. My Background as an Engineering Manager First off, here's full disclosure that I have only been an engineering manager at two different companies. However with that said, I have been an engineering manager at two extremely different types of organizations for just under a decade now. My role at Magnet Forensics as an engineering manager started off as a team-leadership role when…

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ProjectXyz: Why I Started A Team For My Hobby Project

Who Needs A Team?! I've been building RPG backends for as long as I've been able to code. I think my first one that I made for my grade 11 class is the only RPG that I "finished"... It was text-based and all you could do was fight AI via clicking attack, buy better weapons, level up, and repeat. It was also 10000 lines of VB6 code and so brutal that I couldn't add anything to it without copying hundreds of lines of code. Since then, I've had the itch. I keep rewriting this thing. I keep taking "Text RPG" (super cool and catchy, I know) and rewriting it. I had my first visual representation of this game called Macerus (here's another rewrite for unity), which is actually how I landed my first co-op job. But every time I'd get…

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One on One Evolution

Background I'm a "middle manager" where I work, but that means a whole bunch of things. My everyday tasks primarily consist of programming, but I do a bunch of work to interface with other departments and teams, and I play a role in managing people on... well, the "people" side of things. For the latter part, I refer to that as people leadership. I think it's pretty easy to look at some of the aspects of people leadership and dismiss them as "fluffy" or needless... I consider myself a logical/technical thinker, so I have that frame of mind sometimes. However, I do see the value in actually being able to support my team so that they can operate at the best of their abilities. I try to find ways to do that without it seeming to them like I'm doing "fluffy leadership things",…

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There’s Nothing Wrong With Failing

Failure to Communicate So this post will be pretty short, but I wanted to quickly touch on a workplace experience that happened the other day. I was approached by a colleague (who's perspective I really value) about the way some of us on the team were discussing a series of events. This individual was really concerned that we kept calling it a failure, and in this person's mind, we hadn't truly failed at anything. We had done an experiment in terms of tackling a development problem and the team had reached a critical mass where we declared "enough is enough, this is a failure". I became concerned because I wanted to make sure this person and I were on the same page. I couldn't totally wrap my ahead around why this person was so concerned about calling it a failure.…

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Hack The North

Hack The North... What The Hack Is That? Hack The North is Canada's largest international hackathon. It's big. It's bad. It's awesome. Okay, but what does that even mean? The idea is that 1000 people get together from all over the world in an event where they're given 36 hours to create amazing technology hacks. There's a lack of sleep but no lack of amazing ideas and hacked together proof of concepts that show incredible innovation. Sponsors are present to hand out prizes for best usage of their product or API to competitors as well as mentor them and provide help with problem solving. This year, Hack The North was hosted at The University of Waterloo. Bro, Do You Even Hack?! This was my first time ever at a hackathon. I've participated in the Ontario Engineering Competition (OEC) which is much…

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Continuous Improvement – One on One Tweaks (Pt. 2)

Continuing With Continuous Improvement I wrote about continuous improvement before and how I've been trying to tie that into my leadership role through changes to my one on one process. To recap, at our organization we try to roll continuous improvement into most things that we do. We're well aware that we're not going to get things perfect the first time, so as long as we have a process in place to learn, reflect, and adapt, then we can make changes to better our situation. It's something that's ongoing and it doesn't really have an end. So long as your organization is growing and changing over time, or the environment in which your organization is changing over time, having continuous improvement baked into your culture is key to success. Previously, I mentioned that at Magnet Forensics I hold regular one…

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Continuous Improvement – One on One Tweaks

Continuous Improvement - Baby Steps! Our development team at Magnet Forensics focuses a lot on continuous improvement. It's one of the things baked into a retrospective often performed in agile software shops. It's all about acknowledging that no system or process is going to be perfect and that as your landscape changes, a lot of other things will too. The concept of continuous improvement isn't limited to just the software we make or the processes we put in place for doing so. You can apply it to anything that's repeated over time where you can measure positive and negative changes. I figured it was time to apply it to my leadership practices. The One on One I lead a team of software developers at Magnet, but I'm not the boss of any of them. They're all equally my peers and…

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Leadership: What Does It Mean? – Weekly Article Dump

Leadership Everyone has their own variation of what leadership means. For me, leadership means empowering others to accomplish their goals and providing assistance when they need it. There were a few articles that came up on LinkedIn this week that I wanted to share with everyone and discuss how they fit into my perspective on leadership. Articles Does Your Team Work With You Or For You?: Kwame Manu-Antwi opens up the article in an interesting fashion. When I read the title of the article, I figured this was going to be the typical leadership vs management debate. However, Kwame goes into describing a scenario where he had a humbling experience from one of his team that made some sacrifices for him. This was truly an example of working for him. The entire second half of the article shares a bunch of…

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Happy St. Patty’s Day – Weekly Article Dump

Happy St. Patty's Day! I hope everyone who was celebrating St. Patrick's Day was able to not only have fun but stay safe doing so. Of course, when there is drinking associated with a holiday it can be easy to get carried away. It's always a great idea to have driving arrangements or the option to sleep at a friend's place set up before you head out to celebrate. This year I was able to celebrate with a handful of my university friends that I don't get to see as often as I'd like. I haven't been drinking much at all now for nearly half a year, so I stuck to my one Irish coffee to meet my liquor allowance. We all had a blast discussing where our lives have taken us so far, and it's great to see everyone…

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Snow Tubing with Team Magnet – Weekly Article Dump

Snow Tubing First off... If you haven't ever gone snow tubing, get off your computer and get to your nearest snow tubing park. Now that you're back from that, we're all on the same page. Friday was another one of Magnet Forensics' staff events and we were fortunate enough to go tubing at Chicopee Tube Park. I hadn't been snow tubing before--only water tubing--and I haven't even been on a ski hill or anything for years. To be honest, snow tubing to me seemed like a bit of a glorified crazy-carpet experience which would be fun, but get boring after a couple of runs. I'll be the first to admit I was dead wrong. Snow tubing was probably the most awesome way for the entire Magnet family to cut loose this quarter. Most people either love or hate the snow,…

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