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The Team

Engineering Levels Ladder

Sabeen Syed VP of Engineering
Published 2022-08-05
The TeamEngineering Levels Ladder

Overview of Engineering Ladder

At Ockam, there are 3 engineering tracks to accommodate team members with differing growth goals:

LevelsIndividual Contributor TrackManagement TrackExecutive Track
L1Engineer I--
L2Engineer II--
L3Engineer III--
L4Senior Engineer I--
L5Senior Engineer IIEngineering [Team] Lead-
L6Staff Engineer IHead of [Area]-
L7Staff Engineer IIDirector of [Product]-
L8Principal EngineerSenior Director-
L9--VP of Engineering

Individual Contributor (IC) Track

L1: Engineer I:

Impact

  • Scope
    • Learns, writes, tests, reviews and documents code according to Ockam's Engineering standards and development best practices.
  • Responsibility
    • Completes tasks assigned to them and acts as an on-call first responder for their teammates.

Functional Skills

  • Technical Capabilities
    • Participates in software design for small features and bug fixes under direct supervision.
    • Completes small system administration projects under direct supervision.
  • Knowledge
    • Has developed an understanding of at least one key component in Ockam’s products
    • Can articulate how their work ties to the team's OKRs.
    • Understands how to identify and document small issues.
    • Understands the importance of security.

Behavior

  • Reliability
    • Can deliver task assignments on time and on spec.
    • Given an introduction to a small task, can drive that task to completion by incorporating feedback and suggestions from senior engineers.
  • Collaboration / Communication
    • Asks for help and learns from it.
    • Effectively communicates progress of tasks
    • Can communicate and articulate their responsibilities and effectively utilizes the RACI framework.
  • Living Values
    • Shows initiative and is motivated to learn tools, resources and processes to grow as an engineer with a view toward being more self-sufficient.
    • Has a continuous-improvement, growth mindset.
    • Accepts feedback graciously and learns from their work.

L2/3: Engineer II/III:

Impact

  • Scope
    • Develops, ships, and maintains product features with guidance from their manager and senior engineers.
  • Responsibility
    • Responsible for the entire lifecycle of small-to-medium sized projects: development, test, production, and subsequent fixes and improvements.
    • Capable of providing on-call support for features they or their team are responsible for.

Functional Skills

  • Technical Capabilities
    • Writes code that is clear, concise, tested, and easily understood by others.
    • Tracks GitHub issues and responds if an external contributor or customer raises a ticket/issue related to their code.
    • Improves the development experience for their team by enhancing development tools, test coverage, and/or code structure.
    • Contributes to code specifications and participates in small scale code reviews.
  • Knowledge
    • Mastered understanding of all components of at least one key feature or section of Ockam’s architecture, with a high-level understanding of several other features.
    • Understanding of Ockam's engineering standards and development best practices.

Behavior

  • Reliability
    • Learns from mistakes and is on a path of continuous improvement.
    • Begins to focus on attaining expertise in adjacent areas, or features.
    • Knows how to prioritize multiple tasks or assignments and delivers them on time.
    • Provides basic guidance to external open source contributors.
  • Collaboration / Communication
    • Knows when to ask for help in order to unblock themselves.
    • Learns how to pull knowledge, experience and feedback from senior members of their team.
    • Effectively communicates progress of projects to their team according to RACI responsibilities and capable of delivering thoughtful feedback to their team.
    • Understands how their responsibilities are aligned with to the team OKRs.
    • Has continuous communication with, and knows when to push appropriate information to their manager.
    • Effectively manages a 1:1 agenda with their manager.
  • Living Values
    • Is trusted by their team inside the scope of their responsibility.
    • Is proactive, initiates and offers assistance even when without being asked.
    • Improves the speed at which they learn new skills.

L4/5: Senior Engineer I / II:

Impact

  • Scope
    • Understands and makes well-reasoned design decisions on large or complex product features.
    • Acts as a multiplier on the team. Often prioritizes, and values, unowned or undesirable tasks that enables others to move faster.
  • Responsibility
    • Responsible for the entire lifecycle of medium sized projects: engineering design, development, test, production, and deployment and subsequent fixes and improvements.
    • Finds solutions to unsolved, loosely-defined, highly-technical problems.

Functional Skills

  • Technical Capabilities
    • Designs abstract interfaces and constructs modular libraries that are well-tested and bug-free.
    • Regularly refactors code to improve error handling, testability and maintainability.
    • Consistently writes, co-writes, and reviews documentation and production-ready code that is clear, concise, tested, and easily understood by others.
    • Actively looks for things that need immediate patching/updates/clarifications and file clear issues that OSS contributors or L1-3 engineers can pick up.
    • Approaches work with a security lens and actively looks for security vulnerabilities both in code and when providing code reviews.
  • Knowledge
    • Growing understanding of industry trends and development best practices and is comfortable writing code in an open source setting.
    • Solid understanding of all of Ockam’s product components and mastery of those features under their responsibility.
    • Uses and understands systematic tools needed to debug and diagnose issues in a CI/CD pipeline.

Behavior

  • Reliability
    • Accurately forecasts deliverables two to three weeks ahead, and delivers on that timeline.
    • Requires minimal oversight beyond high-level direction.
    • Proactively fixes issues without being told/assigned to do so.
    • Identifies lack of clarity, inconsistencies, technical limitations with issues or task assignments and can make corrective improvements.
  • Collaboration / Communication
    • Works across their team, and adjacent teams (e.g., DevEx) to solve problems and drive projects to completion.
    • Constructively escalates problems and issues early to help course-correct and ensure progress towards OKRs.
    • Identifies conflicting requirements across the company and flags them to their manager.
    • Identifies risks in code, features, and design, and communicates these to their team to collaborate on solutions.
    • Effectively communicates impact and tradeoffs of multiple solutions when presenting solutions to probems.
  • Influence
    • Able to understand when proposed tasks are not aligned with team OKRs and able to defer those tasks into backlog.
    • Understands and effectively communicates RACI for their tasks across their Team.
  • Living Values
    • Persistent in the face of roadblocks and determined to drive projects to completion.
    • Possesses developer empathy and uses that empathy to create beautiful, simple, and well-documented developer experiences.
    • Maintains a growth mindset and has high standards of excellence for themselves.
    • Able to identify and suggest areas of future work for themselves and others their team.

L6/L7: Staff Engineer I / II:

Impact

  • Scope
    • Provides technical guidance to the executive team and makes wide-scale architectural and design decisions.
    • Estimates, assesses, and manages project timelines with the management and executive teams.
  • Responsibility
    • Leads large-scale projects throughout entire lifecycle.
    • Anticipates and defines technical issues, risks, and problems that can be turned into tasks that could then be assigned to IC L1 - L5.

Functional Skills

  • Technical Capabilities
    • Participates in the design review process.
    • Seeks constructive criticism and ensures that technical feedback is broken down and well-understood by others on the team.
    • Understands the limits of Ockam’s tools, and when a problem exceeds those limits, produces, or directs their team, to build a new tool.
    • Demonstrates an ability to succeed in a wide-range of complex technical situations across multiple axes: e.g. scale, uncertainty, interconnectedness.
  • Knowledge
    • Expert in very-large sections of the source product code.
    • Is a resource to other teams that need help with adjacent features.
  • Team Building / Coaching
    • Advises the management team with insights and recommendations that will improve the team.
    • Helps to create job description requirements and participates in interview loops.
    • Mentors multiple teammates.

Behavior

  • Influence
    • Able to quickly resolve tactical issues across the team in order to ensure timely completion of projects.
    • Ensures that knowledge is shared amongst the team and does not position themselves, or others, as a single point of failure.
    • Builds relationships with open source contributors and add-on partners.
    • Monitors and is aware of the work that happens across the team.
    • Accurately forecasts deliverables two months ahead and delivers on that timeline.
    • Drives organization-wide alignment of OKRs, and uses their influence to inspire their team.
  • Living Values
    • Shows initiative, and offers assistance at all levels within their team when needed without being asked.
    • A key advocate that builds trust across the team.
    • Works through others. Lifts the skills, impact and expertise of those around them.

L8: Principal Engineer:

Impact

  • Scope
    • Demonstrates success leading large, strategic, or complex projects that potentially have exceptional impact on the long-term growth of the company.
    • Primarily acts as a multiplier by building systems, authoring tools, or introducing policies or patterns that raise the level of productivity of the company.
  • Responsibility
    • Works with customers and partners to anticipate new product use cases, and is an advocate to the executive team for product frontiers.
    • Explores broad product spaces and works with IC L6 to L7s to define problems and guide IC L1 to L5s in finding solutions.

Functional Skills

  • Technical Capabilities
    • Ensures technical designs are properly evaluated for projects under RACI and advises teams on how to improve execution.
    • Shapes coding methodologies, style, DevEx, and best practices across wide areas of the source product code.
    • Leads large-scale code reviews and can approve large feature updates.
    • Capable of debugging the exceptionally difficult large scale problems, security flaws, or service outages.
    • Has deep expertise across multiple Ockam products and produces high-quality code contributions to these features.
  • Engineering Strategy
    • Works with managers to break down complex OKRs into easy-to-understand projects that can be effectively built and maintained by IC L1 to L5s.
    • Fosters a culture of observability across Ockam's products and helps the team use operational data to improve stability and performance of their team products.
  • Team Building / Coaching
    • Is a recruiter of globally-diverse top-talent and can source, sell, and help close offers to managers and ICs.

Behavior

  • Influence
    • Influences and leads conversations with the executive team about the direction of company-wide OKRs and product roadmaps
    • Collaborates across teams to solve problems and to structure the resolution of complex technical debates.
    • Can convert their pre-existing open source developer and enterprise architect relationships to users and customers.
  • Living Values
    • Focuses on being a mentor and role model to all of their team; empowering everyone on the team to be excellent in their role.
    • Is an advocate of Ockam's value and virtues outside of the boundary of the team.

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