Many developers at some point in their career come to the point where they need to make a choice: Should they continue the same path with the long term goal of becoming an Architect or even CTO? Or do they want to switch gears and become an engineering manager instead?
The answer is highly personal and there is no right or wrong as both paths can lead to great careers in the long term.
Here are my top 5 reasons that put me down the path of engineering management when it was my time to make this decision.
1. You Enjoy Really Big Goals
Working as a developer is great.
You get to be hands on with the technology, solve hard problems and then deliver them as part of the team.
But for me, while I was really good at some parts of the technical role, others were more skilled and passionate about other parts.
I personally get more satisfaction from achieving a big goal as part of a team, rather than achieving a smaller one as an individual. As a manager, you can play a small role in many parts of the big goal. Add it all up, and you can see that you made a big impact on the outcome.
2. You Are a Competitor
I played tennis competitively in my youth, through college and beyond.
As engineering managers, we are in an intense competition with other top companies for new engineering talent.
Closing a strong candidate takes strategy, execution, and sometimes a little bit of luck, just like closing out a tennis match against a difficult opponent.
If you are good (and you better be good at hiring or else you won’t last very long), you win more than you lose, and when you lose you need to be able to let it go, learn from your mistakes, and get ready for the next one.
3. You Want to Stay Close to the Technology
You love learning about new technology and collaborating with your team to apply technology to solve problems.
As a manager, although you will likely take a step back from the front lines of implementation, a big part of the job is partnering with your lead engineers to ensure that your team has a strong foundation and is using the best technology available that suits the team’s needs.
4. You Want to be Accountable for Delivery
As an engineer, one of my biggest strengths was figuring out how to get a product shipped.
A typical challenge is that Product Management wants everything,
Development thinks it can build everything.
Quality Engineering wants it to be perfect.
As an engineering manager, your job is to deliver high quality products fast, as well as to align the different sets of stakeholders.
5. You Derive Great Satisfaction in Helping Others Achieve Success
One of my most satisfying moments as a manager was celebrating the promotion of three of my top engineers to senior positions.
What made it so satisfying was that while they were all strong at execution, none of the three were seen as leads when I first started working with them.
And while they did all of the real work to earn the promotion, I was there to help, challenge, and encourage them along the way.
Think you might have what it takes, either as an engineer or a manager? Salesforce is hiring! Visit http://www.salesforce.com/tech to find your #dreamjob.