Growing Engineering Leaders: Why I Joined New Relic

New Relic

When I was ready to move on from my previous position, I carefully considered all my options. I knew I wanted to work for a company that shared my commitment to building the best possible team and the best possible product. New Relic fit the bill. It had the usual cool bits of startup hipness: a 100% Mac environment, large Apple cinema monitors, killer product, etc. But even in Portland, there are other companies with those things. So, why did I decide to make New Relic my home?

Working for an Engineering-Centric Organization
The management at New Relic is intensely serious about supporting and growing their engineers and engineering leaders. This was obvious from my initial interviews. They asked me about how I wanted to grow and learn, and how I would foster those attributes in my team. I also found out I’d have a network of peers – other engineers who were interested in growing as leaders and managers. My boss is an engineer. His boss is an engineer. His boss is an engineer. And … well, you see where this is going. In fact, there’s so much support here that I find myself learning something new every day.

Since the leadership team above me is engineering-based, they take the responsibility and role of managers very seriously. Let’s face it. Even if you’ve been an engineer for a short time, you know just how badly the wrong manager can mess things up. And unfortunately, all managers have had moments of being that bad manager. It’s part of our legacy, just like engineers who know they’ve written bad code in the past. The questions then become, as a manager, what are you doing to improve every day and how can your organization help you succeed.

At New Relic, the domain expertise in management means it’s incredibly difficult to hide dysfunction in your product or process. In some other companies I’ve worked for, non-engineering execs just didn’t ask certain types of questions or (heaven forbid) tell you where to go look in your code. But here, I’m challenged every day to face the discomfort of my growing skills. Instead of plodding along at two miles an hour, I’m running fartleks. My management muscles are growing and pain is a natural part of the process.

As a startup junkie, I also wanted to learn how an engineering-centric organization would run differently. I can see this manifested in how we organize teams, decide what to put in the product and apply tooling to all parts of the business, including our marketing and sales teams. Of course, business-tooling can be seen all sorts of companies. But at New Relic, tools are integrated into the product itself rather than bolted on the side, fueled by spreadsheets. In fact, we have a full size engineering team called Business Enablement. This team does all the business operations saw-sharpening that usually gets ignored in other IT organizations. This is a powerful indicator of just how seriously New Relic supports internal tooling.

A Truly Unique Environment
The challenges of being an engineering manager here aren’t that much different than those in other places. I still wear multiple hats — everything from project manager, to product manager, people manager, design mediator, infrequent code schlepper, recruiter and even occasional crisis responder. But it is a truly unique environment. I have amazing peers and opportunities to grow in ways I haven’t had elsewhere. And best of all, I’m able to help make New Relic into a place for other engineers to do the best work of their lives and build an amazing product.

And yes, we’re hiring!'

Belinda Runkle is Vice President of Engineering at New Relic. View posts by .

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