A day in the life of a senior software engineering manager at Twitter
Andres Gomez joined the tech industry by way of the SaaS cloud technology space. He has managed global portfolios throughout his career and worked with Fortune 500 companies while leading distributed engineering teams.
At Twitter, he’s a Senior Manager of Software Engineering in the Product Foundation organization, where he oversees Client Security Engineering. This organization builds the foundational components for Twitter’s mobile and web platforms and empowers all product teams to experiment quickly, make data-driven decisions, and launch new features easily.
How did you make your way into the tech industry?
My journey began in Colombia, where I was born and raised. I then moved to the US in my late teens and eventually attended the University of Florida, where I studied Industrial and Systems Engineering. I began my career in the energy sector, where I established a wide background through various roles, including system design, project management, engineering design, and program management, which ultimately led me to fully transition into tech.
What brought you to Twitter, and what do you do there?
I knew I wanted to work in Big Tech and was lucky enough to be recruited by several companies in that space. My choice to join Twitter was rooted in three reasons: global impact, a heavy and genuine emphasis on diversity and inclusion, and the company’s cultural alignment with my values.
My conversations with Twitter were very natural, from my first conversation with the recruiting team throughout the interview process. The conversation that Twitter had with me was, “How can we find the best place for you within the company that brings your unique skills and experiences to the forefront?”
From those conversations, my role as a Senior Manager within the Product Foundation Organization emerged. At the time, Client Foundation was a newly created pillar team within the organization. The team’s role is to abstract information, ensuring client engineers feel empowered and excited to work productively and autonomously while shipping with confidence.
My particular focus is on Client Security, and my team is responsible for managing the security and privacy of our global Android and iOS mobile applications.
As a manager, what’s your approach?
My experiences of where I was born, raised, and studied influence my approach. Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to live in different states within the US and many countries, immersing myself in the beauty of different cultures, and I’ve come to really value the meaning of diversity. This background, coupled with Twitter’s mission to enable anyone anywhere to join The Flock, has meant my team is fully distributed, working globally across multiple time zones.
By being as inclusive and accessible for Tweeps as we are for the people on our platform, we can tap into non-traditional talent and segments that would otherwise be difficult to bring on board. This distributed team model is crucial because it means we can reach a wider talent pool than we would be able to in more traditional models that rely on centralized offices.
As a manager, I’m constantly thinking about how to grow my team members to serve their personal and professional goals. There are many different approaches in terms of management styles, and there’s no one right way. Personally, I believe in embracing diverse perspectives, which makes me a champion for the concepts of empowerment and autonomy. This, topped with a genuine element of trust where people feel safe taking risks and are supported when making mistakes, has led me to have teams that are high-functioning and happy. High-potential team members aren’t merely satisfied with the status quo. When you take the time to promote their development, they’ll naturally grow. Furthermore, if you can instill trust in these individuals and allow them to make mistakes with support when needed, they will flourish.
Together, these ideas foster a growth mindset. Development plans made in collaboration with team members work best when aligned to their interests and experience. However, it’s also vital to stoke professional pride by pushing the team to exceed beyond what they might have thought were their limitations. This might include working in areas where they wouldn’t consider themselves to be strong; people grow when they’re outside of their comfort zone. What does the individual want to do in the future? What are their strengths? We work collectively on that growth and development plan. It’s all very unique to the individual. Nonetheless, what’s expected is understanding what the individual wants to achieve. We then connect the dots between their goals and what the company can provide, which allows them to grow into the career path they want to take.
Additionally, making sure everyone feels heard, especially during key product and technology decisions, can surface areas of growth that might otherwise remain hidden. Pairing team members with mentors who share a mutual admiration for each other’s work cultivates positive and productive working relationships. In combination with Twitter’s natural alignment, which we touched on earlier, these factors ultimately impact not only my approach but also the shape of my team and our work.
How do you balance autonomy with the need to achieve shared goals, and how does this approach impact other areas of the company besides your immediate teams?
Leaning into the concepts of empowerment and autonomy is something that I believe creates accountability, which drives us toward executing our shared goals at a global scale.
To get there together, I ask questions and ensure alignment. For example, do we — as a team — have a common understanding? Do we have a shared vision and understand each other’s roles in getting there? Do we know collectively that the objective will get done, and do we know how we’re going to get there? What are the technical, strategic, and product challenges in front of us? Are we able to easily connect the contributions of what we do at the team level with the company objectives? Does everyone in the team easily understand this?
Within this model, we also emphasize personal relationships. When you are accountable and have positive, personal relationships with the folks on your team, you create an unspoken contract of support, meaning we understand each other and have a shared sense of respect.
This connects back to the Product Foundation mission in that my role as an Engineering Manager requires me to understand the company’s objectives and the work that needs to be done. It’s critically important we know how key results tie to specific objectives. We need to understand how a key result connects to our shared mission.
Specifically, within Product Foundation, we’re trying to make the work for developers easy, fast, safe, and reliable. We’re trying to take away the complexity by building things that are reusable. Our customers are our internal developer teams, which requires us to be ahead of their needs. We want to understand their pain points and how to solve them, so we’re always planning a step ahead.
Within the Product Foundation organization, we have different teams that work in unison to imagine the future of development collaboration at scale. The areas of focus within the organization include Core Services, Client Foundation, Media Infrastructure, and Product Learning Platform.
If you’re interested in solving these types of challenges at scale, #JoinTheFlock.
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