As you may have guessed from the tongue-in-cheek title, I survived my first week at New Relic as the company’s newest engineering manager working on the .NET agent. It was a blast of a week and definitely one of my most productive in a corporate setting! That’s why I wanted to share my first impressions of what it’s like to work at New Relic’s Portland engineering headquarters.


So without further ado, here are the top six reasons why I couldn’t wait to get back to the 28th floor of US Bank Tower (Big Pink) on Monday morning:

1. Employees feel valued: Everything I’ve seen so far screams that New Relic cares deeply about its employees. We have free access to quality, healthful food like fruits, nuts, and eggs as well as healthful drink options. We even have a juice-maker—I haven’t tried it yet but I’m looking forward to using it soon! We have two large beautiful, communal spaces where we can hold events and mingle with other Relics. And our conference rooms are not only cool but practical. The best part for me? Power cables thoughtfully provided in all conference rooms and common areas (we all know how annoying it is to lug around an extra power cable from place to place.)


2. Focus on engineers and engineering: You may be tired of hearing how pro-engineering we are at New Relic, but I appreciated how management tries to accommodate us engineers as much as possible. For example, I work in a unique group within New Relic, supporting the Microsoft .NET platform. We have been able to get by with doing so on the Macintosh laptops used by the rest of the company (with Bootcamp & Fusion VM) for a while, but given the increasing complexity of our framework, our team wanted to move to Windows hardware. Management, including our Mac-focused IT team, has been incredibly supportive. We recently ordered our team’s very first (very powerful, I might add) Windows-based laptop. I really love the spirit of enabling our engineers 100%!

3. Emphasis on the customers: I have seen organizations that offer lip service to customer focus and “supporting” them via robust technical support groups. At New Relic it seems we actually walk the talk! We have a dedicated and rotating support hero role whose sole job is to deal with technical customer escalations. We also do a weekly support pairing session that includes most of engineering and support. During my first session I learned an incredible amount about the New Relic Software Analytics Cloud and the many nuanced elements of supporting it.

4. Engineering leadership support system: I believe we have an extremely strong support system for our engineering leaders. There is a huge emphasis on engineering managers not only helping each other with daily challenges but also continuously pushing ourselves to grow individually. We have dedicated and active HipChat rooms and other forums where I am able to ask vexing questions and get immediate, helpful answers. We also have “mini-m” groups, which I think are right-sized support groups for managers in our product organization. I’ve found these groups provide a safe, confidential environment for growing leaders to help each other make large-scale improvements over time. Our internal leadership enablement team helps match leaders with software tools, processes, and training—again, something I believe is a rarely seen investment.56192842353184.l4QAXOlJKs0GHEUbCUFy_height640

5. Savviness enabled by SaaS: We love SaaS at New Relic. It seems almost everything we do, from email to process optimization, is powered by a SaaS tool—not surprising since New Relic itself is a SaaS provider. Before I joined New Relic, I had great ideas on how to improve productivity using SaaS and cloud technologies, but here I’ve found they were already doing it. I often strived to minimize long email threads using things like SharePoint checklists and docs to capture and share important information more consistently. At New Relic, this seems to be second nature. We even have permalinks (permanent, unique hyperlinks) that help us replay and analyze specific issues our customers are facing, which is very helpful when troubleshooting support tickets. I think this is the ultimate form of SaaS nerdiness.

6. No fear of experiments: I’ve been a fan of lean product development from the beginning and love the concept of minimum viable experiments (popularized by Eric Ries with his lean startup movement). So I was pleasantly surprised to learn that a lot of what we do (or have accomplished already) at New Relic started off as an experiment. I’ve heard half a dozen stories of people coming up with an idea, supported by engineers and the business, to start an experiment that ultimately turned into a hugely popular new feature or a tool. One of our newest success stories in the Browser product is a result of one such experiment. A great benefit of this experimental approach is that we all get to participate in cutting-edge projects every day.

I am also impressed with what my extended engineering team did with GitHub. In the spirit of true geekdom and ultimate democracy, they took our entire change process management into GitHub! You can find out all about it in Ralph Bodenner’s blog post.

We have many open positions in our Portland office and across the world. If you are interested in any of them and feel you are a strong match, please submit an application. I am also personally hiring several strong engineers for my team. Here is a peek at one of the positions if you want to get a feel for what it takes to be successful on our .NET team.


Portland image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Balki Kodarapu is a software engineering manager in New Relic's Portland office. View posts by .

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