How often do you see SDMs with only 5 years of Dev experience and 1-2 years of managerial experience?

Amazon wuRB23
Sep 12, 2018 11 Comments

I'm thinking about moving to SDM route from SDE. Not switching because of pay but rather I enjoy mentoring people and thinking about the product from a broader perspective. Always enjoyed driving initiatives for my team which I still do. Even while on an IC role, more than 50% of my time is spent driving projects, mentoring, unblocking partner teams, consultation etc., Which all made me think about SDM track... My leadership looks like they might support it if I proposed this thought.(Yet to vet this idea with my manager)

Before I get there and pitch in this thought, wanted to see how this is perceived in other companies given that I don't intend to stay forever in Amazon. Thinking of giving a couple of years here in Amazon as a manager to build my skills.

Would really appreciate inputs from experienced folks/if you have a manager with ~5 years of Dev experience and a couple of years of managerial experience.

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TOP 11 Comments
  • Amazon / Eng 3d
    Not very common. You may be able to pull it off if you continue to be in touch with core engineering aspects. It takes quite a bit of engineering delivery as an IC to build the core engineering chops. Your biases may not be tuned enough. In general, I prefer managers to have a L6 level design skills, L4-L5 level coding skills (ability to detect code smells) and the ability to coach L4s to L5s in coding.

    At 5y dev exp, you may be at L6 design skills, or perhaps not, but you should have the ability to build on your ability to evaluate / assess design over upcoming years.

    As always, talk to folks who have successfully navigated through this, and grab a mentor if you can.

    Good luck with your career move if this is truly your passion.
    Sep 12, 2018 4
    • Amazon wuRB23
      OP
      Thank you for the thoughtful reply! Very helpful tips. Do you mind if I ask what level and role you are in.
      Sep 12, 2018
    • Amazon Bakchod
      I don’t think I have seen the kind of managers you are talking about. Some managers in Amazon hardly have any technical skills let alone design skills and still they do well just by keeping their seniors happy.
      Sep 12, 2018
    • Amazon / Eng 3d
      @WuRB23
      I transitioned to a lead after 6 years of experience, and then formally to a manager at 9yrs. Been a manager for 7+ years now.
      Sep 12, 2018
    • Amazon wuRB23
      OP
      Awesome! Thank you for those data points 😊
      Sep 13, 2018
  • Apple GtCI06
    Looks like you’re running away from your actual IC responsibilities on a daily basis. Good look with that.
    Sep 12, 2018 1
    • Amazon wuRB23
      OP
      Not trying to avoid, but more of exploring career that might have more overlap with what I seem to enjoy. At the same time I want to make sure I'm not taking a decision that might glue me to Amazon for a long time. I like to have some flexibility trying different companies in the future.
      Sep 12, 2018
  • Microsoft DOyu71
    Not very often. Me personally, never. And there is a reason for that.
    Sep 12, 2018 2
    • Amazon wuRB23
      OP
      I'll be curious to hear your reasons. Will help me :)
      Sep 12, 2018
    • Microsoft DOyu71
      I just always gravitated to the grizzled, tell it like it is, came from the trenches people. They just matched my personality and meshed with my work style better. I like to be able to speak my mind and have no bs in return. I've interviewed with teams, both internally and externally, with younger managers and just couldn't envision working for them.
      Sep 12, 2018
  • Amazon hsjkk75
    I ve seen this quite often at Amazon. Usually they were leading a part of team and owning delivery. After a successful launch, I ve seen them transition to L5 SDM and all of them are L6 within 2 yrs.

    Some weren't great at managing initially but some were awesome to begin with.
    Sep 13, 2018 0

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