A How-To Guide For Senior Engineering Leaders

Introduction from my upcoming book

I published my first book on engineering management almost two years ago, and now, it’s time for another book on engineering management. This time, the book is targeted for senior engineering managers, CTOs, VP of Engineering, Head of Engineering, Technology Director and the likes. The book is filled with practical advice, meaningful insights and incredibly relatable situations.

It’s ready for the launch day in a week (8 August). You may pre-order, be the first to read it and get 20% off. The following is the Introduction chapter and table of content can be found at the bottom of this post.

Hi there! My name is Isabel Nyo and my pronouns are she/her. I am a senior tech leader based in Sydney, Australia.

Over the past two decades of my career, I have worked in the tech industry, and have had the opportunity to grow my career from a humble developer to a senior tech leader.

It’s been more than a decade and a half since I’ve been in a management role. I have made my fair share of mistakes during that time too. As the scope and complexity of my management role increased with seniority, I found myself wondering way too many times whether I was going to be able to carry my responsibilities well; be an authentic and compassionate leader, provide growth opportunities not just for individual contributors but also managers, think strategically while execute effectively, lead through other managers but not be a micromanager, and deliver on business outcomes, all at the same time.

Moreover, as a mother of a little girl, I can’t afford to have my life consumed by work every waking hour of the day. I want to spend time with my family, help my daughter with her homework, cook homemade meals, take time off work to travel as a family during school holidays, etc.

Last but not least, I want to have my own time; to go on a walk, to listen to music, to read books, to write, to watch videos, and to do whatever my heart desires.

Let me tell you that what I am asking for is nothing out of the ordinary. Just because you’re a senior leader doesn’t mean your life is now all about work. Even someone who enjoys being productive and working, I believe life shouldn’t be just about work.

There is plenty of advice out there for new and seasoned executives on what to do. But I haven’t found many books for senior tech leaders on how to navigate their roles and responsibilities so that they don’t have to scarify other parts of their lives and still be relevant in this competitive and ever-advancing technology landscape.

That’s why I wrote this book. I wrote this book for you as well as for myself. As I reflect on my journey and share my insights, both of us can learn from my past experiences, strategize well and execute effectively as a technology leader.

Being a senior tech leader isn’t easy, although it’s incredibly rewarding. You get to set technology direction for the future, work through challenges — be it people, processes or technologies, play a part in people’s professional growth and achieve outcomes for the business that you work for while using technology as an enabler.

Being a senior tech leader is not smooth sailing. Even after a decade, I had moments where I was not sure if I was doing everything right. Then there were times I had to course-correct myself. But I am able to get out of negative self-talk and stop analysis paralysis because I have resources and insights that I can tap into. In some chapters, you can read raw and ugly mistakes that I had made. You might be able to relate to them. The good news though is this book will give you practical tips and actionable advice on what to do as a senior tech leader to set up your technology department for success. All while still having a life outside work and not feeling like you have to keep coding after work to stay technical.

Before you dive deep into the content of this book, I want to share with you my favorite quote on leadership, by John Maxwell who is a well-known author and speaker on the topic of leadership.

As a senior tech leader, it’s not enough to tell people what to do. You must first know the direction and communicate your vision. Even then, words alone aren’t so powerful. You have to start leading the way and involve people along the journey. Others will follow your lead more willingly when you’ve shown integrity, good intent and expertise in your technical leadership craft.

All the best!

Isabel

Table of Content
Introduction
Part I: How to: Commence
How to Create an Effective Resume for a Senior Tech Leader role
How to Demonstrate your Experience and Seniority at Interviews
How to Decide What Kind of Company to Work for
How to Reframe your Thinking and Overcome Imposter Syndrome
How to Become a Chief Technology Officer (CTO)
Part II: How to: Connect
How to Plan for Your First 90 Days at a New Senior Tech Leader Role
How to Cut Through Noise and Focus on The Big Picture
How to Stay Across Projects Without Being in the Weeds
How to Adopt Agile in your Organization
How to Communicate with Authenticity
How to Reset your Brain and Boost your Productivity
Part III: How to: Coach
How to Understand Different Types of Engineering Managers
How to Elevate your Engineering Managers for Success
How to Guide Career Goals Setting For Engineering Managers
How to Help with Conquering Burnout and Eliminating Overwhelm
How to Answer Commonly Asked Questions from Engineering Managers
Part IV: How to: Cultivate
How to Create a Learning Culture in a Technology Organization
How To Develop an Innovation Strategy for a Technology Organization
How to Scale A Technology Organization
How to Take a Metric-driven Approach for a Technology Organization
How to Support Women in Tech by Creating an Inclusive Workplace
How to Address Common Challenges Faced By Women In Tech
Part V: Bonus
Wise words from Jean Hsu, VP of Engineering, Range
Useful resources
Part VI: What’s Next
Conclusion
Connect with me

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