A couple of months ago I was at devops conference in Paris where the book “The Managers Path” by Camille Fournier was recommended to the audience on how to grow in your tech career. This book is full of practical advice on how to prepare, make the right decision and develop as a software developer.
The Managers Path involves talking about and providing actionable advice from the different stages of technical management. The areas range from mentoring junior developers / those on an internship through to dealing with the more senior staff on an organisational level.
In the introduction, the author describes how she made her way up from working within a tiny engineering team through to gradually managing larger and larger teams, eventually becoming the CTO of Rent the Runway. She did mention how this was a bumpy ride by not knowing how to store and improve on the knowledge. Afterwards she dived straight into what to expect from a manager and how important effective communication should take place right from the start.
This book is organized by chapters that can be read independently. The book advances based on organizational role. The first chapter consists of what you should expect from a manager through to accessing your own experience. The following consists of the following in this order: –
- Tech Lead
- Managing People
- Managing a Team
- Managing Multiple Teams
- Managing Managers
- Managing being at the top
What I liked the most
When starting to read this book, I combined my own situation (a senior software engineer) who has gone through working for medium sized and startup companies, to other peoples career paths in the technology field. I was curious into what different paths I could take and how I could adapt based on my decision. Generally all feels a bit vague without knowing the path for Software Engineers as some of the questions that I asked myself was what do I have to do now and how can I prepare for later.
The book personally helped me in the following ways: –
- For me it was interesting in knowing and understanding how people above me work and manage people in different sized organizations. I was then able to access and see how my previous and current superiors managed me, does it correspond to the information that was described to me in the book? What makes me happy? How can I combine what I liked about my superior’s management styles to the ones explained in the book. The combination of both could help me in the future, reading this helps you realize this for yourself.
- Understanding what is involved in being a CTO. This was explained further on it the book. It impressed me how much a CTO has to deal with. It certainly is not just a development team and involves different approaches and skills to be successful.
- Acknowledging different personality traits in the work place and how to act in a manner than it beneficial for the individual and the company. This is explained throughout the book across different levels. Some people act differently and have different needs within an organization, so it is up to us now and in the future to mentor and guide them to becoming the best that they can.
- Development team initiatives, to keep everyone interested and motivated. This is described in the “managing a team” section where we have to find the sweet spot in making a team more productive and enjoying themselves at the same time. Some examples mentioned were pair programming and code review sessions.
- Providing concrete examples with different scenarios that happen in the workplace and best practices to deal with them. Not all scenarios can be predicted, but this book makes a good attempt at addressing the diversity of them.
- Transmitting useful information in a non-pushy manner to become a manager (for those who simply want to improve as a developer). This links back to point number 3. It explains how and what information should be shared amongst different people (based on culture and individual preferences).
- Realisation that the learning curve is difficult, especially when certain practices have not been tried and tested in your industry. This became more apparent for the author as she went higher up the ladder. In order to become the best, she had to implement methodologies which had not been tried and tested.
- Mentoring interns and making it beneficial for the individual and the company. This is an important skill as every intern should start their career off in a positive manner as the same time as being taught lots of new information.
- Identifying cultural differences. People can take advantage of this. This links back to my third point about how to act and when at different stages of management throughout your technical career.
I thought this was an excellent book. I was sceptical to begin with as I perceived it as being too “managerial” focusing on old methodologies that worked years ago. The fact of it being written by a CTO who has made her way from the bottom to the top, recommended to me at a tech conference and had five star ratings gave me the confidence I needed 🙂
Buy this book here and make it your next read: