I am an engineering leadership practitioner and coach, based in Dublin, Ireland.
I’ve been in tech since the late 90s. I have been an engineering manager, director and vice-president in various positions, working on various products since 2004. The majority of that time was with the Site Reliability team at Google. I was based in Dublin throughout.
Without giving you the full resumé, some major achievements have been:
- Engineering Director, responsible for operation of all Google’s Storage and Database products (my team was 350+ Engineers/Managers/Directors across 7 offices)
- Engineering lead for Google Ireland 2016-2020 – This involved representing the 800+ engineering staff at Google Ireland by sitting on the leadership “Board” for Google Ireland (this was a group of about 12 folks who ran the Dublin site and strategy for Ireland Operations). Here I am in the Irish Times
- Produced the Engineering job ladder for SRE at Google - this included descriptions of the various levels and expectations, and guidance on promotions and progression for all SREs at Google.
- Drove the evolution of a 100+ person Network Operations team (across 3 offices) to up-skill to SRE, including successful job transfers.
- At Elastic, responsible for multi-cloud deployment of Elastic Cloud product, fully remote SRE and engineering team.
- VP of Eng. at Twilio, putting in place a strategy for SRE/Production Operations with key stakeholders and c-suite.
I maintain a more complete profile with publications and so on at my Personal Log.
Why I Coach
Everyone with 20 years or so of experience has a long bullet-point list of impressive-sounding achievements. Now that we’ve dispensed with that formality, I can set out my background and how that has evolved my coaching approach.
I’ve managed a lot of people, directly and indirectly – probably over a thousand, ranging from folks brand new to the industry to people I probably had no business managing because I had more to learn from them. In pretty much every case, I’ve found that coaching and guiding folks toward doing work that makes them happy results in better overall output and outcomes. This may seem like a facile observation, but getting there (including guiding folks through a conversation where they fully realise what actually makes them happy) is tougher than most folks give credit for.
So, my interests as regards leadership have been very much aligned with helping people find their personal happiness in work. It’s easy for a leader to fall into the mentality of believing that the business outcomes trump employee happiness and fulfilment.
I believe that companies are made of people, that not only should personal happiness be a priority, but that the company and management owe each and every employee work that suits their abilities and aspirations, and they should be reconciled with the fact that if they fail to do so, employees should continue that pursuit, even elsewhere at the company or otherwise.
So, my interests throughout my leadership career remain in having folks find out what they truly enjoy doing, and move toward doing that. Reconciling that with what the business needs is tricky, but doable if everyone does the work of knowing what their capabilities and aspirations are.