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Hiring and Managing Happy Engineers - CTO Pizza #3

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The talk I gave at the CTO Pizza #3 in March 2018 about hiring and managing happy engineers in a fast growing startup.

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Hiring and Managing Happy Engineers - CTO Pizza #3

  1. 1. Ledger SAS 1, rue du Mail 75002 Paris - France Ledger Technologies Inc. 121 2nd Street 94105 San Francisco - USA Hiring and Managing Happy Engineers CTO Pizza #3 7 March 2017 Ledger SAS Parc Technologique de Sologne Allée Georges Charpak 18100 Vierzon - France
  2. 2. ● 15 years scaling infrastructures and teams in various startups ● Passionate about tech and leadership ● Open source contributor since 1998 ● Author, speaker and startup advisor Ledger About Me Fred de Villamil VP Engineering Twitter: @fdevillamil
  3. 3. ● Funded in 2014 ● Leader in the security solutions for cryptocurrencies ● Sold 1 million units of the Hardware Wallet Ledger Nano S™ in 165 countries ● 3 offices : Paris, Vierzon & San Francisco ● 100 Employees, 35 engineers (20 / 4 one year ago) ● Raised 75 million USD in January 2018 Ledger
  4. 4. I'm a "para-shit", taking everything that might prevent the team for achieving the company's goals. Achievements are the team's, not the leader's. The team works for the company, I work for the team. Tell things before a person problem becomes a team issue My Job as a VP Engineering Leadership Style
  5. 5. Finding the Right Engineers ● Engineers are expensive and don't believe in the startup bullshit anymore. No budget, no people ● Takes time: 60% of my time spent recruiting, 10% of those who reach the first interview get to the homework ○ 30 engineers to hire in 2018 ○ 210 candidates / job description average ● Network first, have a cooptation program ● Pick up recruiters who know their job ○ Specialized in 1 field ○ Regular meetups attendees who know the ecosystem ● Web sites: Linkedin, Hired…
  6. 6. ● Fastest growing startup in Europe, profitable ● Working on a "cool" technology: cryptocurrencies, blockchain ● Attractive salary and equity ● Great culture of transparence ● 90% of the code is open source ● Little to no legacy Attracting the Best Key assets ● Going to conferences all around the world ● Incredible office (we have a full time workplace happiness manager) ● Organising meetups and hackathons ● Freedom to take over the topics you want when they pop up That little thing that makes your eyes sparkle
  7. 7. Ledger Hiring Process 1. Phone call with the candidate 2. The candidate meets 2 people of the team picked at random 3. A 2 hours homework 4. A technical interview with the lead + VP Engineering 5. A leadership / organisation meeting with the VP Engineering 6. A meeting with the company's founder to expose his vision Hiring Process ● Keep the process short: 6 steps, 3 meetings ● Do my teammate want to work with that person? ● Cultural fit > technical skills ● Average 12 days between the first contact and go Goals:
  8. 8. Skills Assessments ● From simple to extremely complex questions until they can't answer anymore ● Not used to write off a candidate but to know them better ● Find a candidate strengths and weaknesses ● Building teams where they can learn from each other
  9. 9. ● Originally designed at Spotify ● Organization by product line ● A designated tech lead / squad ● People within a squad aren't necessary in the engineering team (marketing, product management) ● Global leads have cross-squads responsibilities ● Change every year (during a Hackathon where you build the new teams) Team organization Going Full Squads
  10. 10. ● Scrum, but with a mix of Kanban ● Leave time for the unexpected ● Accept that the sprint is not immutable ● All teams (including the infrastructure) on the same pace Day to Day Organisation A Mix of Scrum and Kanban ● 2 weeks sprints ● A sprint ends with a demo. ● What's demoed is shipped the week after ● No deployment on Friday! ● Daily standup ● Sprint retrospective: take feedback to improve the global process
  11. 11. The Team Fatigue Rate ● Started when I was managing ops after 2 burnouts ● Different for developers, ops… ● Sometimes, you need to force people to take a break! ● Not rocket science! Track the Team Members Exhaustion Before they Burn Out KPIs ● Interruptions and context switching ● Ops: incidents and oncall hours ● Calculated every week and on a sliding month Tools: ● Jira: nothing can be done without a ticket
  12. 12. The Clear Contract ● Explain your team members: ○ How you work ○ What you like ○ What you despise ○ What you will do for them ○ What you won't do for them ● Ask them for the same information ● Respect as much as you can Setup a bi directional way of working
  13. 13. ● Solve problems as they appear, don't wait until one person problem becomes a full team problem ● Empathy is key but you're not Mother Theresa ● Communicate with your leads often ● Use neutral places as much as possible, avoid meeting rooms until it gets really serious ● Talk, then write, for what's not written does not exist ● Involve the HR early enough to get advices, it's their job Solving Team Members Problems
  14. 14. Abraham Lincoln (source: the Internet) The problem with quotes on the Internet is that it is hard to verify their authenticity