$30 off During Our Annual Pro Sale. View Details »

Staff+: Career Progression Without Management

Staff+: Career Progression Without Management

The traditional route for progression in the software industry is from a senior-level individual contributor (IC), e.g. a senior engineer/marketer/data scientist/designer, into a management role. 

Unfortunately, the required skills for success drastically differ between ICs and managers. Do you need to transition into a position you may not enjoy or excel at to progress in your career?

In this talk, I'll present another way: the staff-plus IC career track, allowing career progression without people management, inspired by my experiences moving through Senior and Staff positions to my current position as a Principal Engineer at GitHub.

Mike McQuaid

March 26, 2022

More Decks by Mike McQuaid

Other Decks in Technology


  1. Staff+: Career Progression
    Without Management


    View Slide

  2. me


    View Slide

  3. Principal Engineer in Communities
    (GitHub Engineer 2013 – Present)

    View Slide

  4. Project Leader on Homebrew
    (Homebrew Maintainer 2009 – Present)

    View Slide

  5. 2003-7







    👨🎓 CS + MS BSc, UoE

    📞 BT

    🔬 Mendeley

    🐧 KDAB

    🥾 AllTrails

    🐙 GitHub

    (🍺 Homebrew)

    View Slide

  6. 2013-16





    Senior Engineer

    Senior Marketer

    Senior Engineer

    Staff Engineer

    Principal Engineer

    View Slide

  7. career tracks


    View Slide

  8. 🏚 Traditional

    View Slide

  9. 🐙 GitHub

    View Slide

  10. 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 Scotland Expectation

    View Slide

  11. 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 Scotland Reality

    View Slide

  12. differences


    View Slide

  13. Management

    people management
    (performance reviews, 1:1s, etc.)

    other leadership/management

    evaluated on your team

    View Slide

  14. IC

    no people management

    individual contribution

    evaluated on your work

    View Slide

  15. Staff+ IC

    no people management

    technical leadership

    (work e.g. review, mentorship)

    evaluated on your impact

    View Slide

  16. my role


    View Slide

  17. Senior Engineer

    feature coding work

    feature team code review

    feature product feedback

    View Slide

  18. Staff Engineer

    cross-organisation coding work

    mentoring mid-level engineers

    💩 umbrella for other engineers

    unplanned fixes for manager

    View Slide

  19. Principal Engineer

    company-wide coding work

    mentoring senior+ engineers

    company-wide architecture work

    company-wide unplanned fixes

    View Slide

  20. 🐙 GitHub

    View Slide

  21. resources


    View Slide

  22. https://noidea.dog/glue

    View Slide

  23. https://staffeng.com

    View Slide

  24. https://randsinrepose.com/welcome-to-rands-leadership-slack/

    View Slide

  25. https://mikemcquaid.com/2021/10/01/what-is-a-staff-plus-principal-engineer/

    View Slide

  26. questions?



    [email protected]

    View Slide