This Dot Blog
This Dot provides teams with technical leaders who bring deep knowledge of the web platform. We help teams set new standards, and deliver results predictably.
Will HTMX Take Away Front End Developer Jobs? with Jack Herrington
Feb 22, 2024
Transitioning From Engineer to Manager with Emma Bostian, Engineering Manager at Spotify
Tracy Lee interviews Emma Bostian, an engineering manager at Spotify, about her transition from being an engineer to a manager. Emma discusses the challenges she faced in her new role and how managers can provide autonomy and support to those transitioning. One of the key challenges Emma highlights is measuring productivity as a manager. Emma also encourages managers to seek help when needed and emphasizes the importance of collaboration and continuous learning in this role. Time management is another aspect Emma shares strategies on that she has tried, such as batching meetings and saying no to some, to create larger blocks of focus time. Emma also emphasizes the importance of understanding individual motivations and assessing the skills and interests of team members to match them with projects that align with their goals. Emma also discusses the reasons why some people transition back to being individual contributors from engineering management. She mentions that some individuals miss coding or have different expectations from the role. Download this episode here!...
Feb 22, 2024
The Art of Feedback and Blameless Cultures with Kelly Vaughn
Kelly Vaughn, Director of Engineering at Spot AI discusses the intricacies of engineering leadership and management. The conversation revolves around the importance of feedback in personal and professional growth For those giving feedback, she stresses the significance of timely and specific feedback that focuses on actionable steps for improvement. She emphasizes creating a culture that embraces failure and critical feedback. Both Rob and Kelly acknowledge the challenges of giving and receiving feedback, highlighting the importance of mutual respect and a team-oriented approach. They also discuss leading teams without a manager title, emphasizing the impact that individual contributors can have on a team. Download this episode here!...
Feb 21, 2024
Ethical Design for AI with Dr. Christine Dee at IBM
Dr. Christine Dee is a technologist and research psychologist for IBM, focusing on AI ethics. She reflects on her decade-long experience with AI and the evolving landscape of AI technologies. She highlights the challenges of AI and the increasing focus on open AI, emphasizing the need for more structured conversations around trust, ethics, and responsibility in AI. There is a widespread adoption of AI across various industries and the growing interest in AI, particularly generative AI like ChatGPT. Christine emphasizes the importance of companies needing to understand the specific technologies, different layers of AI, and the associated risks and safeguards. The two discuss the challenges leaders face in navigating AI conversations within their teams and organizations. Dr. Christine shares insights into design thinking, and the principles as well as systematic approaches to designing AI solutions that align with organizational values and how to do so. Host Rob Ocel brings up the broader context of trust in society, beyond AI, referencing the challenges in trusting information sources, especially in an era of polarization. Download this episode here!...
Feb 15, 2024
Side Projects Make You a Better Leader and Human with Cory Minton, Field CTO at Splunk
Cory Minton, the Field CTO at Splunk joins Rob Ocel in an episode that revolves around how to be a better engineering leader, intentionality, and what we can all do to be better humans. Cory is a Field CTO at Splunk, where he engages with the company's largest and most significant customers, addressing challenges in cybersecurity, IT operations, and observability. He talks about the importance of combining technology expertise with business acumen to help leaders make informed decisions. A major highlight of Cory's role is his involvement with McLaren. He details how Splunk and McLaren work together to leverage data and technology for competitive advantage in Formula One and Esports. Cory shares his excitement about contributing to the development of in-race analytics for McLaren's Esports team. Cory talks about how he encourages his team to pursue passion projects and personal interests. Cory emphasizes intentionality and encourages individuals to identify their interests, align them with their job functions, and intentionally spend time on side projects that contribute to personal and professional growth. He emphasizes the significance of diverse experiences and interests, making individuals more dynamic and engaging. The conversation touches on the importance of balance, acknowledging the human aspect in the workplace. Cory advocates for cycles of high-performance work interspersed with periods of lower intensity to prevent burnout. Cory provides insights for those who may struggle to connect personal passions with their work. He suggests viewing such situations as opportunities for growth and skill development, encouraging listeners to manifest their desired future by investing in themselves. Listen to the full podcast episode here!...
Feb 12, 2024
5 Tips for Leaders to Consider When Adopting Technology
Traditional businesses now must embrace digital changes to stay competitive. This means more than just using technology; it means making digital solutions a part of every aspect of your business. Here are 5 essential tips that will help you navigate the path of adopting technology effectively. Integrate Technology Into Your Core Mission: Mistake: Treating technology as a siloed entity, whether within your organization or outsourced. Solution: Embrace the idea of being a tech company, integrate tech into your overall strategy to get the best outcome. Promote Technology Ownership: Mistake: Not encouraging active involvement in tech-related responsibilities or ownership beyond a single person or vendor. Solution: Embrace direct involvement with the technology strategy and implementation. Nurture transparency and accountability to increase informed decision-making within the team and among stakeholders. Hiring Technologists Who Can Execute Your Vision: Mistake: Hiring tech experts who focus solely on technology, not the business strategy. Hiring without clear roles and alignment. Solution: Seek individuals who bridge the gap between tech and business. Make sure to clearly define business goals and objectives from day one. Foster Curiosity and Stay Adaptable: Mistake: Thinking technology is too difficult to understand or grasp. Solution: Challenge your technical team to explain complex concepts. Trust that your insight and intuition adds more to the technical execution than you think. Ask questions to encourage innovative solutions. Embrace Trial and Error: Mistake: Thinking plans won’t change. Solution: Understand that adopting technology and integrating it into your business is a learning process. Expect to make mistakes, and uncover new learnings along the way. Be open to adjustments and flexible with different paths. These tips will make it easier for your organization to adopt a technology mindset and set your organization up for long-term success when adopting tech. Remember, it's not just about the adoption of technology; it's about creating a new culture that embraces learning, curiosity, and innovation in tech. Listen to the full podcast episode here: https://engineeringleadership.podbean.com/e/5-tips-for-leaders-adopting-technology-with-rob-ocel-tracy-lee/...
Feb 2, 2024
Bad Ideas are Good Ideas with Cassidy Williams, CTO of Contenda
Cassidy Williams is the CTO at Contenda and shares her journey of how Contenda pivoted and the inside play on how the team was able to successfully change their thinking and strategy to accomplish this. Contenda's current product focus is Brain Story, an app that utilizes AI to help people brainstorm ideas. Rob and Cassidy highlight the importance of having "bad ideas" and normalizing them. Cassidy shares her team’s Slack channel called “bad ideas”. This channel allows team members to freely share and discuss ideas without fear of judgment. It fosters a culture of creativity and encourages everyone to contribute their thoughts, even if they may not initially seem like the best ideas. Adaptability and the ability to pivot are emphasized throughout the episode as Cassidy highlights the importance of being able to adapt and pivot in both life and career. Cassidy's experiences and advice serve as a reminder that success often comes from embracing new ideas, collaborating with others, and being willing to adapt. Listen to the full episode here: https://engineeringleadership.podbean.com/e/bad-ideas-are-good-ideas-with-cassidy-williams-cto-of-contenda/...
Jan 30, 2024
Are Engineering Leaders Hiding Behind the Data?
Many engineering leaders when they start out find themselves just wanting to please everyone around them. Figuring out how to “own” the role is quite difficult for many. Rob Ocel, Engineering Lead and Tracy Lee, CEO at This Dot explore this topic on this episode. They discuss the idea of hiding behind the data. When decisions are made, it’s easy to ask for data, but then make decisions solely based on that data and not form or “own” an opinion around that decision so you can’t get blamed for an opinion you had. Rob encourages leaders to have opinions and be willing to fight for them. Another topic covered was making people unhappy in a deliberate way. Are you able to succeed doing so, and do you have the ability to “own” that? Rob also emphasizes the need for self-awareness and self-introspection, and to have mentors and accountability partners to help guide decision-making. Listen to the full podcast here: https://engineeringleadership.podbean.com/e/are-engineering-leaders-hiding-behind-the-data-with-robocel-tracy-lee/...
Jan 24, 2024
Cybersecurity Leadership 101 with Dr. Joye Purser
Dr. Joye Purser is the field Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) at Veritas, a software company specializing in data backup systems. Veritas' global leadership in cybersecurity plays a critical role in data backup and restoration in the cybersecurity landscape. Dr. Purser's career ranges from her time at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to roles at the Pentagon and the White House. Dr. Purser talks about common misconceptions regarding working in the government in the field of technology and notes the increasing trend of tech companies recruiting individuals with defense and military backgrounds due to rising threats to the private sector. There is an evolution in cybersecurity, particularly post-pandemic, with an increased sophistication of cyber threats and a rise of ransomware attacks. There is now a heightened focus on critical infrastructure security and a new outlook on the potential life-threatening consequences of cyber disruptions. The qualities of effective cybersecurity leadership are vision, adaptability, and emotional intelligence. Dr. Purser elaborates on the importance of having a clear vision, especially in an emerging role like hers at Veritas. She shares her experience obtaining the Certified Information System Security Professional (CISSP) certification, highlighting the necessity of adaptability in acquiring new skills and staying ahead of the rapidly changing cybersecurity landscape. Dr. Purser stresses the significance of soft influencing skills, adaptability in communication styles based on the audience, and the ability to read the room. She emphasizes the need for emotional intelligence when asking for resources or driving change, recognizing the discomfort associated with these demands. Listen to the podcast here: https://engineeringleadership.podbean.com/e/joye-purser/...
Jan 16, 2024
Innovation is NOT Just Creating Something New: Dylani Herath, FinTech Leader
Dylani Herath, a well known FinTech leader who has worked at organizations such as Greenwood, JP Morgan, and FIS sat down with Rob Ocel, Engineering Lead at This Dot Labs and shared some insight on how digital leaders can improve culture and lead successful transformations by balancing business objectives and engineering needs. Dylani began her career with a scholarship that allowed her to work for an engineering company while studying. This experience laid the foundation for her future endeavors in consulting, where she focused on process improvement, quality assurance, automation, and optimization. Eventually, she found herself in the fintech industry, working with large organizations to transform and optimize their engineering processes. Ways to be a Successful Transformative Leader Creating a roadmap with measurable objectives One key aspect of effective leadership is aligning the team's technological capabilities with the organization's transformation initiatives. This alignment ensures that the team is equipped to drive change and achieve the desired outcomes. She emphasizes the importance of tying transformation initiatives to measurable objectives, as this provides a clear roadmap for success. Creating a relationship with your team Another crucial factor in driving transformation is having the right people on board. Dylani highlights the significance of leaders building strong relationships with their staff to foster a collaborative and supportive environment. This enables the team to work together towards common goals and drive change effectively. Building platforms to allow ideas and innovation Creating forums for brainstorming and innovation is another strategy Dylani suggests for engineering leaders. These platforms allow team members to share ideas, think outside the box, and come up with innovative solutions to challenges. By encouraging creativity and collaboration, leaders can harness the full potential of their team. Clear and transparent communication Communication is also a vital aspect of effective leadership. Dylani advises leaders to clearly communicate the reasons behind unpopular decisions, ensuring that they align with the organization's long-term goals. This transparency helps build trust and understanding among team members, even in the face of difficult choices. Incremental transformation, incremental wins Taking innovative solutions such as new AI tools and harnessing the power of those tools, but implementing them incrementally as there are opportunities for transformation within an organization is the best approach versus investing in large initiatives that take a long time to see results. Done incrementally, organizations can gain valuable insights from their data and make informed decisions that drive transformation and optimize processes. Dylani's insights on engineering leadership and championing change provide valuable guidance for leaders looking to drive transformation within their organizations. You can follow her on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/dylaniherath/. You can listen to the podcast here: https://engineeringleadership.podbean.com/e/innovation-is-not-just-creating-something-new-dylani-herath-fintech-leader/...
Jan 10, 2024
Engineering Management: Just a Detour? - Charity Majors, CTO at Honeycomb
Rob Ocel interviews Charity Majors, CTO at Honeycomb on engineering leadership. Engineering management was once thought of as an inevitable destination for engineers who sought advancement in their careers, but now engineers have more options than ever. Many engineering managers are becoming engineers again, and the role of manager requires a significant amount of emotional labor. Should anyone want to be an engineering manager? Charity shares her journey of becoming an accidental CTO and founder, despite never aspiring to be a manager. She talks about the importance of engineering managers, and how they help teams outperform those without one, but acknowledges the role is challenging and not always enjoyable. Charity and Rob discuss how good managers can transform a company. They are compared to the nervous system of a company, routing information and ensuring everyone has what they need to succeed. Charity highlights the difficulty engineers face when transitioning from a ticket system to a more autonomous work environment. This shift can be challenging, as engineers may struggle with the newfound freedom and responsibility. It can take years to fully make the transition, so leaders looking to promote engineers to management need to be committed to and patient with the transition. Both Charity and Rob agree that a strong social support system for engineering managers is necessary as the role can be isolating, and having a network of peers who understand the challenges can be invaluable. Charity Majors' experiences and perspectives shed light on the challenges and rewards of the role, and when engineers should and should not pursue this career path....
Jan 4, 2024
Building a Championship Team: Lessons from Sports, the Kitchen, and Software Orgs with Joe Essey, Director of Engineering at Popmenu
In this episode of the Engineering Leadership podcast, Rob Ocel sits down with Joe Essey, the Director of Engineering at Popmenu, to discuss the key elements of creating a high-performing team environment. Drawing from his experience in the restaurant industry and his time at Liberty Mutual Insurance, Salesloft, and Popmenu, Joe provides insights into fostering a successful team dynamic. One of the fundamental aspects Joe highlights is the importance of peer accountability. He emphasizes that team members should hold each other responsible for their actions and outcomes, creating a culture of ownership and continuous improvement. This not only helps in achieving individual goals but also contributes to the overall success of the team. Another crucial factor Joe emphasizes is the establishment of shared trust within the team. Trust is the foundation upon which effective collaboration and communication are built. When team members trust each other, they are more likely to openly share ideas, provide constructive feedback, and work towards common objectives. A clear definition of success is also vital in creating a high-performing team environment. Joe stresses the significance of setting clear goals and expectations, ensuring that everyone is aligned and working towards a common purpose. This clarity helps in avoiding confusion and enables team members to focus their efforts on achieving the desired outcomes. Joe also highlights the importance of having a good pipeline and the right people in place. A strong talent acquisition process ensures that the team is composed of individuals who possess the necessary skills and mindset to excel in their roles. By carefully selecting team members, organizations can create a cohesive and high-performing team. Joe Essey's insights shed light on the key elements required to create a high-performing team environment. Peer accountability, shared trust, and a clear definition of success are all crucial factors in fostering a culture of excellence. Additionally, having a strong talent pipeline and the right people in place further contribute to the success of the team. Joe's story of Jake's rapid promotion serves as a motivating example of the potential for growth within such an environment....
Dec 19, 2023