ENGINEERING MANAGERS INTERVIEWS
#3 The Role of an Engineering Manager is in a Sandwich by Miguel Gomez @Bumble
If you are interested to know what Enginnering Manager role looks like on a daily basis this podcast is for you! Miguel talks very sincerely about the role and all its challenges. Learn about the importance of staying curious, fostering the team spirit, and why the role is like being in a sandwich.
On the third episode of the Engineering Manager Interview Series, I talk to Miguel Angel Gomez who is an Engineering Manager at Bumble. Bumble is not just a dating app, it is a social network where you can not only find a date but also a BFF (Best Friend Forever). What distinguishes Bumble from other dating apps is that after a match, a woman needs to make the first move.
Miguel gives the most detailed sneak peek into an Engineering Managers day to day work. If you’d like to learn what it really means to be in the role, what are the biggest challenges, and how you can overcome them, this episode is a perfect match for you!
A Day of an Engineering Manager
It’s the second time Miguel is in the role of Engineering Manager, the first time it was @free-now where we worked together. Therefore, Miguel talks about the role based on those two experiences and also based on what is out there in the market. He shares a lot about the role and what it is like in everyday work. We learn what a day of an Engineering Manager looks like, and what are the biggest challenges of being in the middle of the sandwich— between the team you manage and the higher management:
“The role of Engineering Manager is in a sandwich. You have many inputs from different places. There are different things that are happening at the same time. It’s all the time like that.”
The road from a Developer to a Lead
Miguel also talks about the challenges of being a first-time manager.
“For me, the biggest challenge was that at some point, I became the manager of some of my colleagues. And not everyone accepted that easily.”
His solution was to be very honest with his team and share that it is a new situation for everyone, including him.
If you are hesitant whether to put yourself out there and apply for a management role, Miguel has apiece of practical advice for you:
“The best thing that you can do as an engineer or a developer that wants to follow this path is asking people why we’re doing this and being curious.”
This goes into what Luis and I talked about in the #1 episode — the Full-Stack Product Developer concept. When being a developer your responsibilities don’t limit to coding only unless you want to be a junior. Forever. In order to become good at your job, knowing about the product and business will help you greatly better understand what the company is trying to achieve. And how you can help the organization achieve it.
To get a taste if that’s something for you, Miguel recommends asking your manager to assign a small project to you to work on. This is the most practical way to see how you feel about the role. Have a taste of the cake before you eat the whole cake. And all of this with trust and autonomy:
“The approach was: we trust in you. Try to do your best. If there are any challenges, bring them to the table. I like that approach because, as I mentioned, I prefer to give freedom to the people, so I always appreciate when people give me freedom to do things.”
Hey, we are a team. Let’s go!
As a Leader of a Team, you might get a challenge to create a new team from scratch. Miguel reminds us how important it is to care about team spirit and the feeling of belonging.
When creating a team take into consideration 3 things:
- First, one and the most important one is the purpose — what is the purpose of the team? Do they understand the mission and the vision?
- Second, how do we operate as a team? Establishing common practices.
- The third and most challenging part of creating a team is creating a team feeling.
Once you create a team the next step is to make sure they take initiative and ownership, so they can function in an autonomous fashion.
“Part of my philosophy is that the team should not need me.”
“Guarding the team from some noise yes, but not parenting them. As a leader, you don’t need to be in charge of everything, you need to show some guidance and prepare the team to face the challenges.”
The role of a team leader in the sandwich can be exhausting at times, so disconnecting, practicing a hobby, or going on vacations makes a lot of sense:
“It is very important to disconnect and do something different because the role of an Engineer Manager requires a lot of psychology, a lot of getting deep into the discussions on analyzing things. So sometimes you just need to unplug, to be able to do your best when you are in the actual work. It is good for the mind to sjust close up ometimes and do something different go somewhere, take holidays.”