Musings of an Engineering Leader

So, you want to become an Engineering Manager?

Most developers at one point or another in their careers have thought about switching to management. Maybe your boss left suddenly and you were the most senior engineer on the team. Maybe you’ve spent a number of years in your current role and are wanting a new challenge. Or, if you’re lucky, your mentor brought up some traits they thought would make you a really good manager. Whatever the reason, you’re here now, trying to figure out whether this is the right move for you....

August 6, 2022 · 4 min · Adam McKerlie

Welcome to mckerlie.com

For the better part of the last decade, I’ve been an Engineering Manager (EM) and Director of Engineering (DoE). I’ve learnt a number of ways that don’t work when it comes to leading people and a few ways that do and I’d like to share them with you. A few weeks ago one of my co-workers asked me what it was like getting into management. As I reflected on that question I realized it was one I’ve answered before....

August 2, 2022 · 2 min · Adam McKerlie

2021 review of the books I read

In 2021 I read 9 books. This was 21 less than the goal I set in 2020 and the lowest number of books I’ve read since I started keeping track back in 2018 (you can find the list here). Some of this had to do with working remotely for the full year and losing out on 3 hours’ worth of reading time during my commute. Some of this had to do with burnout and honestly not having any energy left at the end of the day to read....

March 21, 2022 · 3 min · Adam McKerlie

2020 review of the books I read

In 2020 I read 25 books. This was 5 less than the goal I set in 2019, but, as everyone knows, 2020 was a doozy. I often use my commute to read and with Covid happening, I started working from home which reduced my reading time significantly. In June I also switched companies which reduced the time I had to read even further. Overall I’m happy with the number of books that I finished, including some really good ones....

January 4, 2021 · 4 min · Adam McKerlie

Meetings can be Poisonous

Eight years ago I wrote about how meetings are poisonous . At the time I was the senior developer on my team and I was getting pulled into 4-5 meetings a day. This killed my productivity and made it difficult to get any of my IC work done. I struggled for many months until I realized that I could just say no to meetings. Since then I’ve transitioned from developer to manager , manager to director and then back to manager....

December 22, 2020 · 5 min · Adam McKerlie

Running an Engineering Book Club

Being a manager can be extremely hard, it can feel isolating at times especially if you don’t have a good support network of peers. But how do you cultivate this team of peers when your days are filled with 1:1s, meetings, code reviews and other things you need to get done? Earlier this year I was struggling with this question. I needed to expand and nurture my peer group but was too busy with the day to day tasks of leading multiple teams to do anything regularly....

December 16, 2020 · 6 min · Adam McKerlie

2019 review of the books I read

In 2019 I read 26 books. This was 9 less than the goal I set in 2018, this was due to a busy personal life (I had a second kid) and changing roles at my company. I also think I got a little burnt out from reading after a fairly quick start. Favourite Books Reset: My Fight for Inclusion and Lasting Change — Ellen Pao I followed along as Ellen’s lawsuit was happening against Kleiner Perkins so reading about it from her point of view and all of the events that led up to it was very interesting....

January 1, 2020 · 4 min · Adam McKerlie

2018 review of the books I read

In 2018, I read 42 books. This was the first time in over 15 years that I really set out to read a lot of books. I used to curl up on a couch or hang out in my bedroom all day reading until my parents forced me to go outside or come to dinner. Then high school, university, work, parenthood and numerous other things got in the way and I never got back into reading....

January 1, 2019 · 5 min · Adam McKerlie

Four Things I Wish I Knew When I Started My Career

When I was getting started early on in my career I made a lot of mistakes. I was unhappy, working for people who didn’t respect me and I was lost. I was unsure as to whether or not I wanted to continue being a developer and for a while, I was unsure if I’d ever be able to make it. I was working my butt off and burning myself out for a company I didn’t believe in....

May 22, 2017 · 4 min · Adam McKerlie

The Five Traits I Look For When Hiring

Hiring is hard. It’s a stressful process where you’re trying to find a good fit, both personally and technically, all in a few short hours. Over the last 7 years, I’ve hired many developers and while they haven’t all worked out, I’ve been very fortunate to have been able to work with some excellent people. In every case, as I’m sitting across from them in the interview, I focus on trying to see if the candidate exhibits the following five traits....

January 26, 2017 · 4 min · Adam McKerlie