Mina Kleid and I

2 years as Engineering Manager at Scout24: People

Iuri Matsuura
Aug 20, 2018 · 5 min read

20+ projects delivered, 15+ A/B tests, 3 KPI targets achieved, 90+ interviews, 8 hires, 4 engineers promoted, 400+ 1on1s and at least 9 important lessons. By the numbers, that’s how I would summarize the past 2 years working as Engineering Manager (EM) at Scout24.

I am part of the Consumer experience platform (CXP). Our mission is to offer a simple, transparent and relevant experience to our users. The mobile apps and major parts of the website, in particular the search funnel, are among our main products.

Throughout CXP I worked with 3 teams using technologies like iOS, Android, NodeJS and AWS. Each provided key challenges that allowed me to understand and perform my role.

It took me some time to grasp what my role was about. As an EM you have to focus on essential areas such as People, Delivery, Product and Technology. In this article, I'll cover the main one: People. Each section contains insights about the role, achievements we’ve made and challenges to overcome.

Let’s get started.

People

Conventional wisdom preaches managers should only look after their direct reports. The truth is people management goes far beyond your team. It involves your peers, your manager and yourself. The rest of this article is dedicated to each of them.

Directs

I started in CXP managing 3 engineers, two years later that number more than quadrupled to 13. No wonder that’s where I dedicate most of my time.

Developing a group of skillful engineers requires a solid leadership and management style. I prefer the E3 approach: empowerment, enthusiasm and empathy.

In other words: build trust with your teammates and give them autonomy to execute their tasks (empowerment). Create momentum by quickly finding opportunities that enable them to grow (enthusiasm). Carefully listen to their concerns, give them feedback and solve the puzzle together (empathy).

A set of clear goals and regular 1on1s are tools that can help you here.

Achievements:

  • From apps to servers: this year I’ve been fostering the idea of T-shaped engineers. As a result, we’ve successfully trained 3 mobile devs in Node.js and AWS. The idea is to empower iOS and Android engineers to contribute to our backend services. Eventually the backend folks will gain experience in the mobile apps as well.
  • Product engineers: this quarter Alia, an iOS engineer, decided to become a product manager. I spoke about it with our Head of Product who immediately bought into the idea. Alia is currently pairing with a Senior Product Manager. She’s learning how to take informed decisions and how to assess the impact of our initiatives. T-shaped ;)
  • The basics: we’ve been doing our primary work of growing and promoting engineers of all levels. I’m glad to see Alex, Dzmitry, Sean and Thomas promoted. Great work, guys!
  • Newbie managers. Recently I took responsibility for the Android team in CXP. That has added 6 more engineers under my umbrella of direct reports. As a leader my duty is to create other leaders. As a result, I’ve been mentoring potential engineering managers lately. Olha, an Android engineer, is taking over most of the operational work. She’s also shadowing me during job interviews. A similar approach is being done with Haitham on the iOS side of the house.

Peers

My peers play a fundamental role in my development as an EM. After all we wear the same hat and face similar situations.

In CXP we are a strong group of 5 engineering managers and 5 product managers. Although I don’t manage them, my time is also invested managing their expectations. Additionally we often discuss the progress of our projects and the well being of our teams.

Achievements:

  • Open feedback. That’s my main takeaway: the ability to give and receive feedback from my peers. There were times when I was going in the wrong direction and my colleagues alerted me and vice-versa.
  • Sharp but constructive: I had a few disagreements with my product managers. They were resistant to the rotation of engineers between the teams. We also spend a lot of time working on our roles and responsibilities. The good thing is: we always ended up with a common understanding and some good laughs. That’s what’s important.
  • Help is on the way: I usually share my challenges with other EMs and ask for their advice. It’s impressive how their support is always available.

Additionally I’m proud of the projects we’ve delivered and the KPIs we’ve achieved together.

Boss!

All the things I do for my direct reports apply to me as well.

Wait.

You are a manager, Iuri. Are you saying there’s someone looking after your career, goals and performance?

Sure, there is.

I also have weekly catchups with my manager. We work on my personal goals, discuss what’s going on in the team and the progress of our initiatives. My top tip is to be very transparent with your manager. It shows your trustworthiness.

Achievements:

  • Everything that applies to my peers.
  • What comes after EM? We’ve noticed that becoming a Director of Engineering could be quite a big jump for an EM. Thus we’ve been working on the solution of having Senior Engineering Managers and the responsibilities such role would demand.

Challenges:

The beauty of working with people is imperfection. New challenges will always come across the way despite your efforts to create a utopia in your team.

Our last engagement survey — a company wide questionnaire about our culture — pointed out that employee retention deserves more attention. Learning and development is another topic on our plate. More innovation and creativity are required from our side to deal with both topics.

Another challenge is to find more opportunities for EMs to advance in their careers.

A couple of actions are being taken to overcome those issues. The results will be shared later.


I hope this helps you to understand one of the key focus areas of an Engineering Manager. If you are aspiring to become an EM, primarily think about your team and the people surrounding you. After all, they are your best ally.

I hope this helps you to understand one of the key focus areas of an Engineering Manager. If you are aspiring to become an EM, primarily think about your team and the people surrounding you. After all, they are your best ally.

Sounds interesting?

We’re constantly looking for new talents to leverage our culture. Join us on our mission to connect people, cars and homes. Check our open roles and apply now.

Iuri Matsuura

Written by

Passionate about Technology, People and Ideas. Senior Engineering Manager @Scout24.