Impostor syndrome or real over-level risk?

Dec 19, 2019 12 Comments


I am an engineer who has always been in startups and gradually grew from a pure individual contributor role to a technical leader: I lead impactful projects within the company and set the technical agenda, technical direction and technical milestones for such projects. I mentor other engineers on architecture and scalabily and I also carve for myself some space to be hands-on with the project. Typical teams are at around 5 people and I lead them for 6-12 months at a time, after which they become independent. I have a few patents related to my company’s technology, and I also do a lot of public speaking at conferences.

I have been in touch with a big hedge fund in NYC who is interested in my area of expertise and would like to possibly offer me a role for a senior director, handling an entire unit of 20-30 engineers. Many of these engineers are really really solid, much more than me. They come from Google, FB, and I have never been at FAANG before.

Nothing is decided but the hiring manager (vp of the technology department) keeps talking to me very positively.

Here’s the problem: I am really nothing special, and am worried that if I join they will find out and will just fire me, because this is a role with high expectations they have been looking to fill for some time. I literally have nothing to teach to these guys, these are all ex FAANG top performers who moved there for a pay bump.

I have a good thing going at my current employer: my TC is ~400k and I navigate the organization very well and everyone respects me, so I also get very good WLB.

This hedge fund instead would offer me close to 800k (all cash, ~300k base and the rest yearly bonus), plus generous sign on for helping me relocate from SF to NYC.

I would also have to stay in a LDR since my girlfriend is here in SF and she can’t move any time soon, and I wouldn’t want her to considering this risk.

I am 32 with 9yoe.


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TOP 12 Comments
  • Zendesk ZenDiagram
    I don't think good developers are looking for directors to teach them anything, they're looking for support to get their job done (make sure they stay funded, solve conflicts, provide growth opportunities, etc) and guidance to what the company needs from them (help prioritize initiatives, translate business goals to technical ones, etc).
    Dec 19, 2019 2
    • OP
      Yeah, though that’s more the role of a people manager. This role is a director specifically focus on technical direction, so go figure...
      Dec 19, 2019
    • Zendesk ZenDiagram
      So the second half of what I said still applies. Most of those things are things engineers generally aren't great at. It's a different skill set so I don't think you should feel like an imposter. If the developers could and wanted to do it they would be doing it instead of their current role.

      That said your TC is so high I personally would consider the LDR a deal breaker, unless you're not that serious or will only be long distance less than a year.
      Dec 19, 2019
  • Yelp / Mktg hideous
    Lol, your job as a director isn’t to teach engineers anything. It’s to scale the engineering organization.

    When they are talking about “technical direction”, they mean prioritizing the projects that are proposed to you, unblocking that work, and / or making sure it gets done and the right people are accountable for it.

    There are also so many macro level responsibilities too: are you retaining your best performers? Do you have a healthy hiring pipeline? Are teams meeting their OKRs? Where is engineering too expensive (is the infrastructure working?)

    This job is about people, not computers. Let engineers worry about those. If you’re being spoken positively about this role, trust the boss.

    Everyone that has ever moved up had to take some leaps of faith. I say go for it.
    Dec 20, 2019 0
  • I was at a startup for 4 years before joining Google a few months ago.
    I was happy with my previous role and was valued highly by my reports and company leadership. But the decision to switch was easy for me cause I knew if things didn't work out for me at Google, I could very easily go back to my old company. Felt v low risk.
    Your situation sounds similar.
    Dec 20, 2019 0
  • T-Mobile


    looking for new opportunities...
    Picture yourself as your Director right now. If you had capable tech leads like yourself working for you, what would you bring to the table to help tech leads like you excel?
    In your current role, what do you expect of a great Director? Can you do those things you would expect from a strong Director?
    If ideas are racing through your brain right now, trust your gut.
    Dec 19, 2019 0
  • New / Eng (>’-‘)>
    If you love your current job stay.
    If you are restless or want a change, go for it!!
    Worst case:
    - work for 3-6 months & fired

    you’d still probably break even on the year (wrt old TC).
    the main risk is emotional/ego.
    You’re psyching yourself out.
    Dec 19, 2019 0
  • How long you been your company? Is it fast paced? These questions are important to answer to determine if you can ramp up vastly at the new firm and provide leadership. People are generally misfits because the dynamics are different. Ask the Hedge find lots of probing questions in terms of expectations. If it aligns with what you have done in the past and think that something you are comfortable, go for it
    Dec 19, 2019 0
  • Oracle CloudWarri
    What company is that is that a venture firm. Cuz they offer 50/60% bonus. Theres one company in Palo Alto doing that.
    Dec 19, 2019 2
    • OP
      Think of AQR, Citadel. A similar company.
      Dec 19, 2019
    • Oracle CloudWarri
      The reason I am asking I got contacted by blackrock and coatue, and they are offering like 50% bonus on base. But I would like to apply for the company that you got offer if the TC is extremely lucrative.
      Dec 19, 2019
  • Google BLSo45
    What Risk are you referring to? If you want to take this offline, PM me, our backgrounds seem to be similar
    Dec 19, 2019 0


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