The very first two first engineering directors we ever had at Pleo were coders who we promoted from the bottom-up. They took on a part-management, part-coding path as we went from an engineering team of 4 to 50. They did an incredible job and got us where we are today together with our CTO. They’re now leaving and we had a choice to make: should we replace them?
You’ll notice that this job post is not for an engineering director. Why not? Why is there an engineering manager role? How does the greater team feel about it? Is this role coming at the cost of other peoples’ career progression?
If you’re asking these types of questions, you share our people-first mindset and have the leadership style that we’re looking for in this role.
We’re Pleo. You can read all about what we work on and how we work, but the most important thing to us here is who you’d be working with. When our two directors resigned - we didn’t plan a backfilling sprint. Instead, our VP Engineering and CTO went around to each of our 50 engineers to hear what they thought about it. We discussed whether we should just replace them with directors, we asked about their motivation and whether they would like to be managers; we spoke about building out our long-awaited staff / principal career progression path.
We listened, we learnt, and we placed our bets. We promoted people where their ambitions and their skill sets matched the role (say hello to our new engineering manager, Dom!) and we started to build out the staffing path. We then looked for the missing links, and looked for what we need to balance the teams out so people can meet their potential. These missing links are the ones that we will hire to support the development of the rest of the team.
This engineering manager role is one of those links.
So who are we looking for?
We’re looking for someone who is delighted to see great software shipped, and is a motivating force rallying behind the people who ship it. If this is you, you love people and you’re an engineer: you know that things like inefficient processes can be a major demotivating factor to people. You come in with designs to make things work better. You’re at ease stepping into a technical discussion or taking an important stakeholder meeting with a goal to remove roadblocks to help the team to move forward.
You’re also a technologist at heart. We work in cross functional teams in product and engineering: each team is made up by co-founders from product and engineering - and joined by designers, coders and maybe even some people from commercial. Because of our cross-functional way of working, you’ll need to be interested in working with different types of stakeholders and business needs to align engineering with the product and business direction and goals. And of course, you’ll also need great communication skills to get this all right.
So what makes a great leader at Pleo? Unlike most job specs, it’s important for us to explain who we are through the leadership style that we represent - and are looking for - in our engineering manager.
Our type of leaders:
- Our leadership style is grounded by our product values: we believe in delegation, trust, autonomy and transparency.
- We need a leader who can take a leap of faith in their people to do the job and to make the bets they best believe in.
- As we scale (especially at the speed that we do!) it’s easy to start to centralise responsibilities. The Pleo product works against that by delegating spending to everyone. So too, as leaders at Pleo, do we delegate responsibilities, decisions and tasks even at scale. It can be hard, but this is the trust we show our people - and we believe that this is how you can scale a company in a smart and effective way.
- We don’t believe in a traditional hierarchy and won’t work well with someone who believes that titles trump good ideas.
- We work with a lot of compassion: we treat mental wellbeing and sick leave seriously, we listen when people aren’t okay and we make sure we can cater to that.
- We are inclusive and push that agenda to everyone: we need to be the ones who set the standard here.
Our VP Engineering’s leadership style:
- The management style of who you report to can make or break the role. We know that and we want to share some more about how your boss, our VP Engineering, works as a leader (from my point of view as part of the people operations team).
- Petr gives a lot of trust and confidence in you that you’re able to take Pleo to the next level. He’ll take a back seat and you’ll have full freedom to do what you need to do. If something isn’t going well, though, he’ll come and support you.
- He is calm and has a very rational approach to solving problems, while understanding the importance of keeping the morale up.
- Petr is very open to other people's ideas, he’s a good listener and receives feedback very well.
- Petr embraces the mentoring responsibilities of his role. He will strive to help you reach your full potential and achieve your aspirations.
Your leadership style:
- We always say that we hire anyone who we would want to be our boss, irrespective of the role they’re in (from Customer Support student workers to co-founder!). That should be the feeling we’re left with when any of us speak to you.
- We are looking for someone who cares deeply about individuals as human beings - we focus on authentic leadership and are actively trying to develop ourselves in this space.
- We hope that you will be able to show vulnerability, radical transparency and a listening ear to those around you.
- We truly believe that with this type of style you and your team will set an incredible path forward - and that path will get us to incredible places. We want an engineering manager whose team will be standing on the top of the mountain with them - celebrating together and not left behind exhausted on the path below.
You will thrive in this role if you:
- Have a passion for people management. You thrive to see your team and individuals growing and shipping great software.
Like to work with cross-functional teams and other stakeholders to align engineering function with product & business direction and goals. You think like a technologist in core and optimise for both customer and the business.
Enjoy design and optimisation of teams and processes to maximise their efficiency. You are comfortable to step into technical discussion or take important stakeholder meetings with a goal to remove roadblocks allowing the team to move forward.
- Are a strong communicator, with both technical and commercial stakeholders.
What this Role entails:
- Work closely with the Group Product Manager and set a vision and direction for the group of product teams.
- Directly manage Engineering Leads and oversee a group of ~12-20 engineers.
- Drive customer-centric & solution oriented mindset.
- Continuously improve environment and processes for how we build our product.
- Align technology direction within your area, with other areas as well as with overall technology direction of the company.
- Represent engineering in key initiatives and projects within the department or across the company and ensure they get delivered.
- Design the organization, objectives and hold a high standard in people, delivery and technology.
Your colleagues say about you:
- Have a solid track in Software Engineering.
- You can inspire and motivate others.
- Care about helping people grow.
- Are easy to work with and a person they would also enjoy having a coffee with (virtual or not).
- Listen to feedback but is strong enough to drive your own vision.
Your mom says that you:
- Co-ordinated other kids to build huge lego constructions.
- Always come up with the most efficient route to do your errands.
- You know way too much about everything.
- Take on challenges happily.
- Probably work in IT (moms).
Show me the benefits!
- Your own Pleo card (no more out-of-pocket spending).
- Ability to work remotely (anywhere between east coast of the Americas to European timezones)...
- ...or onsite if you want to (Copenhagen, London, Berlin, Stockholm, Madrid).
- Quarterly trips to somewhere for team camps (both company-wide ones and team-specific ones). The last one was in Northern Ireland last December.
- Investment in learning & developing (just check with your team for what's reasonable, we don't have set budgets).
And here are some other nice gestures that we do
- Catered lunch in our HQ and London offices when you're here.
- 25 days holidays (annual).
- Loads of weird and wonderful niche communities to join in the company (we're talking guerrilla gardening, liquids tasting, the Pleo band, learning to code initiatives, beer brewing, skiing, that type of thing).
- Wild enthusiasm and encouragement from us if you want to host MeetUps, events, etc - we'll help (venue, food etc).
Working at Pleo means you're working on something very exciting: the future of work. Through fintech we've seen a way to impact how people work; we think company spending should be delegated to all employees and teams, that it should be as automated as possible, and that it should drive a culture of responsible spending. This world deserves the best out of trust, autonomy, automation, and empowerment.
Being HQ'd out of Copenhagen means we're inspired by sensible things like a good work-life balance. If you don't work in the office with us we'll help you get up the best remote set up possible, and will fly you in once a quarter for team camps.
Sometimes, we write about things we care about
Check out what we think about the realities of working remotely are here
No one says it quite like our customers. Hear what they have to say this week on Trustpilot here: