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.

"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

Using Python to generate over 10,000 unique 8-bit lightsabers

Python is great for a number of things. It powers 1.4% of the internet, Nasa uses it a lot! and you can use it to create art. In honour of Star Wars Day, I wanted to create a program that dynamically generated lightsabers and tweeted them out once a day. TL;DR I created a computer program that generates a unique lightsaber made out of four different parts (blade, hilt, pommel and button) and tweets it out once a day along with some statistics about the lightsaber....

May 4, 2020 路 12 min 路 Adam McKerlie

Adding Cron to a Digital Ocean Droplet

I love Digital Ocean. It鈥檚 incredibly easy to set up, it鈥檚 cheap to get started and you can scale up easily as your website grows. All of my old sites were hosted on there and when I needed a host for my latest project, Daily Lightsaber, Digital Ocean was the obvious choice. The main feature of Daily Lightsaber is the scheduled post of a new lightsaber every day. To do this I needed to add Cron to my droplet....

April 28, 2020 路 3 min 路 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 鈥 Ellen Pao I followed along as Ellen鈥檚 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 路 4 min 路 Adam McKerlie