2020-12-29

Staff engineering manager

I’ve been promoted! As of January 1st, I will now be a Staff Engineering Manager at GitHub.

This is a new title on our career ladder, which was only added in the last couple of months. Prior to this, the next promotion on the manager track would have been to Director. The “Director” title, however, usually implies that you are no longer a line manager, and are instead a manager of managers. You’re in charge of a larger group, consisting of a number of distinct teams. As the Director of the group, you achieve impact by how your teams can work on a number of things in parallel.

For my own career progression, that left me with a difficult decision. I joined GitHub specifically to work with the Semantic Code team, applying interesting program analysis ideas from research to create useful developer productivity features. I’m still very invested in the people on this team, and the problems we’re trying to solve. But working with a single team doesn’t line up well with the “Director” title, at least as it’s defined on our career ladder. So going for a promotion would have realistically required moving to another part of the company, working on technology and product features that I’m less interested in.

We added the Staff Engineering Manager title to the career ladder specifically to address this discrepancy. It allows me to progress in my career while still being the line manager of a single team. I still have to show higher impact now with this new title. And like on the IC ladder, “staff” implies that your impact needs to be cross-team in some way.

But so far — having not yet spent even a single day with my new title — it seems like a great fit!