Musings of an Engineering Leader

Hey 馃憢, I’m Adam! I’m an experienced leader with deep technical expertise, executive leadership, and engineering management. I love solving challenging engineering problems, growing businesses, and leading teams.

So, you want to start a new hobby?

Last year at the Sentry Toronto Office (ps, we鈥檙e always hiring!) we started a new tradition of presenting lightning talks in front of the office. A lightning talk can be on any topic you wish. Since we鈥檙e a tech company, some talks are technically focused but the only rule is that they鈥檙e less than 5 minutes. This helps people improve their presentation skills, work on talking in front of a large group and craft talks for conferences or other reasons in a safe place....

January 17, 2023 路 5 min 路 Adam McKerlie

2022 review of the books I read

In 2022 I read 20 books. This was 8 more than the goal I set in 2021 and the second-lowest number of books I鈥檝e read since I started keeping track back in 2018 (you can find the list here). I had originally set a goal of 12 books, a modest increase from the 9 that I read in 2021. A big reason for the increase was regaining a commute into the office in mid-2022 as well as a vacation without kids for the first time in several years....

January 5, 2023 路 4 min 路 Adam McKerlie

On Writing More

I鈥檝e been a big proponent of writing as a form of learning for many years. In University I wrote programming tutorials on https://devjargon.com with a friend. These old articles are now posted on here and you can see how poorly they were written. Next came https://procrastinatingdev.com (now redirects here) and a number of years I wrote about more in-depth technical articles. As my career progressed into management so did the topics I wrote on....

November 20, 2022 路 3 min 路 Adam McKerlie

"As a manager, what is your ideal time spent on coding?"

This question was recently asked in a local engineering slack organization and it got me thinking, what would the ideal amount of time spent on technical contributions be for me? When I first transitioned from a developer to a manager I didn鈥檛 know how I provided value. I assumed that being a manager was largely the same as being a developer except now I had to talk to other developers and help them become better somehow....

August 22, 2022 路 5 min 路 Adam McKerlie

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鈥檝e spent a number of years in your current role and are wanting a new challenge. Or, if you鈥檙e lucky, your mentor brought up some traits they thought would make you a really good manager. Whatever the reason, you鈥檙e here now, trying to figure out whether this is the right move for you....

August 6, 2022 路 4 min 路 Adam McKerlie

Welcome to mckerlie.com

For the better part of the last decade, I鈥檝e been an Engineering Manager (EM) and Director of Engineering (DoE). I鈥檝e learnt a number of ways that don鈥檛 work when it comes to leading people and a few ways that do and I鈥檇 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鈥檝e answered before....

August 2, 2022 路 2 min 路 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鈥檝e 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鈥 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 路 3 min 路 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鈥檓 happy with the number of books that I finished, including some really good ones....

January 4, 2021 路 4 min 路 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鈥檝e transitioned from developer to manager , manager to director and then back to manager....

December 22, 2020 路 5 min 路 Adam McKerlie

Running an Engineering Book Club

Being a manager can be extremely hard, it can feel isolating at times especially if you don鈥檛 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 路 6 min 路 Adam McKerlie