Last month marked my second service anniversary since rejoining Red Hat. I feel like this is a good opportunity to reflect on the last two years and what I have been up to, both personally and professionally.
Recharge – or why I decided to rejoin Red Hat?
When I left my job at Facebook I had no idea what I wanted to do next. I certainly did not plan to come back to Red Hat at that point. What I did know was that I needed a break. Like a real, proper break. This is when I decided to carefully plan a “funemployment” period with full support from my wife and family. After about 10 years in tech, with much international travel involved, this was very well-needed.
During my recharge, which took around four months, I focused on myself and my family first. No laptop. Very little emails. Free schedule. That also allowed my wife, a full time employee in the tech industry herself, to develop her career and spend more time at work like she wanted to.
Other than a few personal projects I finally got a chance to focus on (like getting back in shape and completing my first half-marathon), the best part was two vacations: one with the entire family – we spent two weeks traveling across Israel with the kids; and the other one just with my wife – we were in Rome in December 2019, a couple of months before COVID spread across nearly every border.
This time away from work really got me thinking about what I wanted to do next. I started to explore a few ideas but then an interesting offer came up: to come back to Red Hat as an engineering manager. I knew Red Hat (I worked there for more than 5 years before). I even knew most of the team members I was supposed to manage and how awesome they are. I wasn’t an engineering manager before.. but I was up for the challenge. I felt like it’s the right move for me, and the opportunity to directly support people was very appealing. In February 2020 I officially rejoined Red Hat.
Transitioning from Product to Engineering Management
People keep asking me about the transition I did from being a Product Manager to an Engineering Manager role. First, a disclaimer: your mileage may vary. I can only share my view which is based on my own experience. Now back to the question: in theory, this move is supposed to be about shifting from owning the “problem space” (product) to owning the “solution space” (engineering). In reality, things are much more complex. The boundaries are not so clear, and depending on the company, the teams involved, the product itself, and where the product is in its life-cycle, there could be some good amount of overlap between product and engineering work. At least the way I look at this, the title does not mean much. There is work that needs to be done, and users and customers that want to get value. I always keep asking myself: what can I bring to the table at this point and how can I help?
To me, the biggest difference wasn’t about “problem space”, “solution space”, nor technology. It’s about moving from being an individual contributor (IC) to a people management role.
With people, for the people
I always had a passion for supporting others, whether I was a manager or not. As a product manager, which by definition is an IC-type role, I got the opportunity to work with many other teams and individuals and I learnt how to earn trust and ultimately influence and make an impact. I also got the opportunity to mentor others, be it officially (via mentoring programs) or organically as part of the job. But being a people manager with a defined team of people you need to support is a different experience.
A people manager plays a pivotal role in the employee experience. As much as I love the technical parts of the role, I made a clear decision: people first.
I rejoined Red Hat to manage a team that is focused on multi-cluster networking and the Submariner project. In the last two years, the team managed to achieve a lot of amazing things, both on the technology front with many key features and cabiliplites added to the project, as well as on the community front, making Submariner a vibrant community project which is now part of the CNCF. The team also worked hard to integrate Submariner into Red Hat Advanced Cluster Management for Kubernetes, which is how Red Hat customers can leverage and use Submariner.
As I become more mature as a people manager I continue to look for ways for me to delegate and empower others, so that I can focus more on career development and personal and professional mentoring. We are also starting to see more adoption of multi-cluster Kubernetes solutions, and I am looking forward to supporting customers and helping them in their multi-cluster journey, while advocating for further standardization in the networking space.
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