Should you be a manager, or should you be an engineer? The old wisdom used to say that you should pick a lane and stick to it. But this is bad advice.
The best tech leads I have ever worked with are people who have spent time as a manager, learning how to lead with influence and persuasion, and how to connect complex technical initiatives with concrete business outcomes. Similarly, the best engineering line managers I have worked with are never more than a few years away from doing hands-on engineering work themselves; they periodically go back to the well to refresh their skills.
And the most powerful senior technologists of all stripes are almost always people who have both skill sets, swinging back and forth between management and engineering over the course of their careers. Repeatedly. Like a pendulum.
We’ll talk about how this fluidity benefits companies as well as individuals, and how to craft the sociotechnical systems that support this kind of hybrid career development. We’ll talk about how to convince your leadership hierarchy to reward this model. And we’ll talk about how managers can successfully move back into engineering roles, even if it’s been a long time or you aren’t sure how to do it.