4 Paths to Become an Engineering Manager

Many people seek to become an engineering manager and they often wonder what paths could lead them to it. In her book “The Making of a Manager”, Julie Zhuo mentions 4 paths that people often go through that lead them into reaching a manager role, namely: the apprentice, the pioneer, the new boss, the successor.

  1. The apprentice: this is a situation where you are already part of a team managed by your manager, but the team is growing too quickly and your manager is looking for help. This is where you might get asked to step into a manager role and be responsible to manager a few people to take some load off your manager.
  2. The pioneer: this is where you are the an early member of the club, let’s say you are a co-founder and the team grew too big and you need to manage part of the company. Or you are an employee at a company but started some kind of a service/project that grew too big and now requires more help from other folks. This is also when a new team might be formed and you could be the manager of this group.
  3. The new boss: basically an old manager left a company and you are replacing them.
  4. The successor: your own manager left the team and they asked you to manager the team instead.

Each of these paths has its own challenges and expectations. The book goes in details explaining pretty well what to be aware of and what to take advantage of in case you get into one of these paths. So if you are facing one of those paths, or expecting to, do yourself a favor and get the book.

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