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Q: I’ve noticed quite a bit of similarity between staff engineering roles and engineering management. What is your take on the similarities and differences?

An interesting observation is how many leadership roles in Big Tech and at high-growth startups begin to utilize overlapping skill sets after a while. At these companies, everyone working in engineering or product is technical, meaning they have good understanding of programming and computer-related concepts, and most of them wrote code at some point in their careers.

This article covers:

  • The most common engineering leadership roles and transitions between them.

  • A mental model on how these roles overlap along the strategy & alignment, people management and building software dimensions.

  • “Beware”: a combination of activities that tend to burn out people.

  • Similarities between engineering leadership roles – and areas worth investing in, even if you’re not yet in these roles.


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