Bye Bye Dev Work and Hello Engineering Management

Today I’m starting a new role at WP Engine. I’m taking over the team that builds Faust.js as an Engineering Manager.

While returning to a management role has always been in my “plan,” I can’t deny that I didn’t think it would happen yet as I have been quite happy building Atlas Content Modeler for a team I joined in June of this year. The timing for this new-ish team was simply something I couldn’t pass up.

While the team I’m taking over has existed on paper for almost a year now, it was never an “official” team and was instead the work of 1 or 2 developers at a time operating under the same umbrella/engineering manager as the Atlas Content Modeler team. WP Engine has realized the importance of the product and has decided the time is right to split it off into a full engineering team. As the work is adjacent to my own and I know the people involved, transitioning to the manager of the new team was just the perfect opportunity for me at the right time.

It’s been 10 years since I officially managed people (though I had employees for Better WP Security until I sold the plugin in 2013). When I finished graduate school I simply wanted to write code and not manage people. This past year, however, I’ve taken on a few new roles at work including becoming a mentor in our official mentor program and earning my Certified Scrum Master certificate to serve as an agile advocate both on my current team and my last team. Both of these roles reminded me how much I miss working with people.

Once I add in the pandemic, which as prevented me from doing the talks and other teaching I normally would, I found myself itching to work with people again and not just with code. The role of Engineering Manager seems to be the perfect fit for this as my job will be to build a successful team and ensure they can continue to grow in their work and their careers. It’s the type of work I’ve enjoyed doing in mentoring and other tasks now extended to my official job and I can’t wait for the new challenge.

Beyond the ability to work with people, the new role should also give me the chance to enjoy writing code on the side again. I’ve had so many side projects in my head for so long but, after a long day of coding at work, my will to code elsewhere just hasn’t been there.

In the end, though, it comes down to the right position to allow me to make a bigger impact on people, at the right time. I haven’t been excited for a challenge in a long time and it feels so good to be excited again.

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