Office Hours: I'm Rukmini Reddy, VP of Engingeering at Abstract.Featured

kuan's profile thumbnail
Thanks so much for joining us this week, Rukmini! Rukmini will be answering your questions before the end of the week. Please note that she may not have time to answer all your questions, so be sure to upvote the ones you most want her to answer with emojis.
joclark's profile thumbnail
Hi Rukmini; First, thx for doing this! A couple questions: 1. what is the best way for a non tech founder to understand what you're doing, let you do it, but still remain responsible for tech decisions ultimately (for the Co). 2. If your tech team is offshore (Vietnam) do you recommend a US based Co still have their core tech domiciled here? For ex, we're going 5G here but def'ly will not be in Vietnam. Thx!
Rukmini's profile thumbnail
Hi Jo! Ah! The founder's dilemma :) 1. When I am interviewing into a role like mine, I always clarify upfront what the expectations are around communication, decision making. In addition, I am very clear about my leadership style and what I would need from my founder(s) for me to be successful at their company during the interview process itself. After I join, I spend a lot of my time building trust and relationships that makes decision making less murky for all involved 2. I have managed offshore teams for several years, and have not found the need to keep core tech in the US vs outside. However, depending on your IP needs if you need to do that I would recommend breaking out into separate teams with clear charters
joclark's profile thumbnail
Btw you seem amazing; lmk if you decide you want to co-found a Startup! :) Would love nothing more than a girl coder team; love Brene Brown and my husband is a twin.
joclark's profile thumbnail
Great point about the IP (yes we are filed just for US at this point due to the high costs of global IP filings)! Tysm.
jessziyuezhang's profile thumbnail
Rukmini, how did you find the sponsors in your career and what was the commonality that connected you? How do you bring clarity for the team and what are some examples are see as good leadership vs bad ones? How would you recommend someone who is under bad or mediocre management to navigate the situation and “manage up”, without just sucking up and not invest in any skill building?
Rukmini's profile thumbnail
Hi Jess, Thank you for your questions: I was incredibly lucky early on to find a sponsor(who was my boss and VP of Engineering). Our commonality was our ability to work incredibly hard and move things at a rapid pace in a dynamic environment. I reported to him for 6 years and grew from an Individual contributor to VPE during that time(Around year 3 I had my twin boys). I received a promotion from him while I was pregnant, which took me by total surprise me and he told me I could make a promise to him that any future promotions I receive shouldn’t be a surprise as I should have been asking for it all along. That changed the way I managed my career from that point.I understand that not everyone might have these opportunities so you can start with some simple tips:1. Schedule personal time with leadership in your company to ask questions or get to know them. A good question could be something like , what keeps you up at night as a leader at this company ? 2. You can also raise your hands in team meetings, offering questions or comments about big picture thinking. You share your point of view at your company All Hands, whether that’s asking a question or offering your take on the information.3. You can find something that’s missing at the company and fill that gap. Maybe it’s starting an employee resource group or launching a networking series with industry professionals in your office space. However you choose to become more visible, make sure it feels true and authentic to you, your passions and how you build relationships. How do you bring clarity for the team and what are some examples are see as good leadership vs bad ones? I bring clarity by clearly defining career goals and ladders to the team. I have detailed career paths and published to my team to use to set goals with their manages, and actively manage their careers Good Leadership: Care deeply and challenge you directly (AKA : practicing Radical candor) Not be afraid to be vulnerable with your team Own your failures so you can all learn and grow and thrive from themBad Leadership: Micro managementLeading with fearIntolerance for failureHow would you recommend someone who is under bad or mediocre management to navigate the situation and “manage up”, without just sucking up and not invest in any skill building?People don’t leave companies , they leave bad managers. Asking for well defined expectations of your role, and actively managing your own career might be necessary if you are stuck with a bad manager. I would recommend you clearly define a time box for which you are willing to let this impact your career, if you don’t reach your goals within the time box. It is time to quit
amazzocchi's profile thumbnail
I'm interested in learning more about how you grow your teams (in numbers) while also making sure individuals are personally succeeding and feeling satisfied with the work and opportunities they are given. Thanks!
Rukmini's profile thumbnail
Hi Andrea, Great question. I feel it is my job to help my people succeed and this is also my leadership philosophy. I make time for my people, I call them . I use the template at the link below to build relationships and ensure they are satisfied and doing the best work of their lifehttps://medium.com/swlh/https-medium-com-rukmini-reddy-1-1-meetings-bdac39deeb22
amazzocchi's profile thumbnail
Thanks so much for sharing your resource!
saritha's profile thumbnail
Thank you for taking the time to do this. Appreciate your time. I have 15 years of experience as a software engineer. Always have been hesitant about getting into management because I dont like to deal with people. But in my current role as senior engineer I have done team building, product management from engineering perspective, architecting solutions and working with the team in agine environment. And I enjoy doing that. My questions are1. Does engineering management always means managing team AND the personnel? Or are there management positions where you're not responsible for the people but just for the team's work? I hope that makes sense.2. What steps can I take to make a transition to management? Do I need to go get a certification? Do you think a short term certification (8-10 month programs) from a reputed school helps with that?3. What are your thoughts on contracting/consulting as an engineering manager vs. Full time at a company?TIA for your time and thoughts!Saritha
Rukmini's profile thumbnail
Hi Saritha,Thank you for your questions1. Does engineering management always means managing team AND the personnel? Or are there management positions where you're not responsible for the people but just for the team's work? I hope that makes sense.Yes absolutely, as you continue to grow as a software engineer you can always pursue technical leadership roles which are not people management positions and are different in a way that you don’t have to do 1:1’s and help people with career paths and suchAnd you can consider Staff/Principal engineer roles where you can use your love fore leadership in different ways A few examples: - Be both a cultural and technical role model to other engineers. - Well-known for positive long-term impact on the technical trajectory of the company.- Positively impacts the entire organization with their technology decisions and solutions.- Leads by example, inspires other engineers, and is viewed as a technical/non-technical role model and mentor.2. What steps can I take to make a transition to management? Do I need to go get a certification? Do you think a short term certification (8-10 month programs) from a reputed school helps with that?That should definitely help, you could also consider some new manager courses offered in places like General Assembly(https://generalassemb.ly). Take a course on Linkedin Learning on leadership to get started. 3. What are your thoughts on contracting/consulting as an engineering manager vs. Full time at a company?Interesting questions, I actually did that for the first part of my career. For me personally it was quite difficult to lead without having direct authority(as a consultant vs Full time employee) and things got murky rather quickly.
whitneycaneel's profile thumbnail
I'm not a mother as of yet but it's on my plans for the future. One thing that continuously makes me anxious is wondering how I'm going to balance having kids and moving forward in my career. I have a very supportive partner but nervous that children may slow down my career trajectory. What's helped you in alleviating this anxiety and being able to accomplish professional success while balancing being a mum?
Rukmini's profile thumbnail
Thank you for the question Whitney! Becoming a mom has been one of the most rewarding and challenging experiences of my life. I was incredibly nervous when I found out I was pregnant with twins, so I poured my heart into my work to avoid dealing with this life changing event happening literally inside of me . That completely backfired when I went into pre-term labor at 27 weeks and my Dr warned me that my kids might not make it. It changed my entire perspective, I needed to slow down at that moment and I did. I took time off, made it almost 9 weeks and gave birth to healthy kidsThe lesson I derived from this was, you can have best laid plains with kids and you think you know everything and at a moment’s notice all can change. I needed to be more flexible and patient. Organization as my super power: I am very organized so I schedule all things I am already aware of and my family has a shared calendar. I account for things that are predictable, and try to be flexible and not be impatient with the unpredictable things. Build your squad: My partner , is my greatest squad partner. He is also an engineering leader, managing a huge team, but he supports our family every day. He takes the morning shift with our twin boys and picks up the coffee I forgot for Teacher Appreciation Day. We share lessons we are learning in our careers, in our friendships, and as parents. Our partnership has made our respective success possible. Find your people. Hold them close.
sandramedina's profile thumbnail
Couple questions for you:-Do you think there is a point where managers can “over measure” their employee’s performance? With things like KPIs, OKRs, task boards, etc. -Do you have any advice for managing up when you interact with 2 or 3 levels of managers?
Rukmini's profile thumbnail
Hi Sandra, Thank you for your questionsDo you think there is a point where managers can “over measure” their employee’s performance? With things like KPIs, OKRs, task boards, etc.Yes absolutely, data is great because it has no bias and can help you make decisions. However data without context is dangerous. For example : In addition to setting up dashboards/leaderboards etc for my team to measure themselves against , I have scheduled 1:1's with all engineers in my organization at least once a quarter where I get to talk to them about what is most important to them, how they are tracking against their long term goals, their challenges and how I can support them. Do you have any advice for managing up when you interact with 2 or 3 levels of managers?Execs are fans of leaders who communicate clearly and know to ask for help when they are stuck. I would suggest , having well defined communication on the issues at hand and how you are tracking against it in written format would be appreciated
Rukmini's profile thumbnail
Thanks everyone for the thoughtful questions. Hope you find my answers helpful. Grateful for a community like this where we can all learn and grow together. Cheers to Elpha!
kuan's profile thumbnail
Thank you so much, @Rukmini for spending the time with us! Your answers were incredibly detailed and clear. So great to have you!
georgie's profile thumbnail
Since I'm a university student and a few years before I start chasing for full-time SWE positions, what advice would you give your younger self? There's so many options for software development and it feels like I take one step forward by asking questions about people's careers but two steps back when I feel like I don't that have the skills necessary to be successful in those industries... Thank you so much!
Rukmini's profile thumbnail
I can resonate with you, I was once a Masters student and immigrant in Arkansas. If I could give advice to my self is to lean into my fears and find my courage. Fear and courage go together.Courage isn’t about lacking fear. Fear is exactly what makes courage, well, courageous. It’s saying, “Yes, I can” when you’re in uncharted territory. That’s the vulnerability that makes courage so remarkable.
KimTaylor's profile thumbnail
Hi! I'm an LA-based startup founder and we're now beginning to scale our engineering team from 2 to 5 people. Could you talk about your hiring process in general and the amount of time you think appropriate for a full-stack coding challenge? We don't want to overdo it, but want to make sure we're being thorough.
Rukmini's profile thumbnail
Hi Kim,I run a remote first organization, I don't believe in white-boarding challenges personally. In my team we do several rounds of screening after which we provide candidates a take home test (usually completed in under 8 hours or so) with well defined criteria and expecations
kuan's profile thumbnail
I'd love to hear more about 1) how you use data to evaluate performance, and 2) how to best work with team members who have very different communication styles. Thank you!
Rukmini's profile thumbnail
Hi Kuan, 1. I have published both technical and people tracks at Abstract using which employees setup goals with their managers. In addition for engineering, we use pull request metrics, story completion etc. , to give us additional context to evaluate performance2. Start by asking people how would they like being communicated with :) This is very helpful because you meet them where they would be most receptive and you can build a strong foundation for your relationship at work