My top 25 items in a senior engineer’s checklist

This is a simple checklist, and while it is useful to any software engineer, it is especially useful to senior engineers. More items from the list can be found here.

  1. Understand the business aspect of your work, and what makes money. Eventually, only that matters.
  2. Get involved with hiring for your team and company, and maintain a high bar for hiring quality candidates.
  3. Design and develop systems appropriate to scale, extensibility, and scope of the problem. Avoid over-engineering.
  4. Question everything and ask “why” repetitively until you get to the root of problems and situations.
  5. Demand accountability and ownership from others.
  6. Lead at least one major project with a clear definition and target of successful delivery.
  7. Work towards disambiguating ambiguous problem statements.
  8. Work on increasing your influence on other teams.
  9. Do not be adamant about your views. Listen to others and accept that there is more than one way to look at a problem statement, and multiple valid solutions to a problem.
  10. Be involved with multiple projects as a consultant, a reviewer and/or a mentor.
  11. Follow the principles of extreme ownership.
  12. Have strong mentors to help you navigate and grow in the company.
  13. Take projects with high risk and high rewards.
  14. Strive for deep technical expertise in technologies used in your team.
  15. Ask for stretch projects from your manager, or help her identify one for you.
  16. Discuss the goals of your manager, and how you align your work with it.
  17. Invest time in networking effectively with seniors, peers, and juniors.
  18. Be a mentor to a couple of junior engineers.
  19. Increase your breadth of knowledge in the domain of your team/company.
  20. Drive your one-on-ones. Maintain a list of topics for the next one-on-one discussion.
  21. Discuss problems with your manager, but have some solutions beforehand.
  22. Increase your breadth of knowledge in technology.
  23. Explore emerging technologies by building small prototypes.
  24. Read a few technical books every year.
  25. Before suggesting the next big shiny technology for your production stack, understand its pros and cons thoroughly.

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