Sitati Kituyi: Co-Founder, Hodi
Different ways software engineers can pursue leadership roles, understanding the context of the problems you are solving, and finding the right balance between product velocity and technical debt
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About our Guest
Everyday Leadership in Action
Here are a few highlights from the conversation with Sitati:
Some talent is better suited as individual contributors than managers: While Sitati himself took the managerial route, he is happy for others that the engineering professional allows for multiple routes to grow their careers, including options where team supervision isn’t required. Engineers often consider either staying on as a “principal engineer” or eventually take on team supervision. Sitati has seen many strong engineers face culture shock and struggle adjusting to the need to manage team issues. Rather than measuring (and being rewarded for) their own productivity through metrics such as lines of code written or tickets closed, they must instead spend time enabling their team members. Therefore, it’s important for engineers to carefully think about and test out different upward career tracks.
Understanding the mission and context of the problems you help solve, above the specific roles and skills you gain, are what drive long-term motivation in developing strong leadership: Sitati has enjoyed learning different software tools and languages over the years, and always gets excited at the opportunity to build new products. But at the end of the day, he says that being able to connect his work to the mission of the companies he’s worked for and how his products solve real problems for people, is what has driven him to succeed. He’s taken this realization to heart and now makes sure he communicates this with his own team and gives them opportunities to experience the context in which their products are engaging customers.
Leadership in technology requires finding the right balance between driving new product velocity and managing technical debt: Technology-enabled businesses need to develop minimum viable product (MVP) versions of products or features to optimize on speed of bringing their technology solution to users for feedback. They only go back and create the polished version of that product once its been sufficiently validated by customers. Addressing the technical debt created by building quick versions results in extra time required later to create the more-scalable version. As a CTO and technical co-founder, Sitati must effectively estimate and communicate to the rest of the wider team the constraints and opportunities that exist given the available bandwidth of his developers. This requires trust from his fellow leaders that he is striking the right balance, a responsibility he doesn’t taken lightly.
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