Calibrate Conference 2015

You’re a great engineer. Become a great leader. ©
A conference for new engineering leaders hosted by seasoned engineering leaders.

September 30, 2016 - San Francisco

Thanks for attending everyone! We'll update folks in #calibrate on the Rands Leadership Slack and at @calibratesf as slides and videos become available.

Why Calibrate?

As fast as we're growing our engineering teams, we're also creating engineering leaders and it's often learn-as-you-go. Engineering leadership has a specific set of challenges with respect to the intersection of people, technology and process, and almost no reference material or developmental community surrounding it.

Let’s change that.

We’re bringing together accomplished engineering veterans to address the unique needs of newly minted engineering leaders. We’ll share what it’s like to grow from an IC to a leader, and offer advice on what to learn in your first few years of leadership. You’ll take away tactics and frameworks for decision making you can put to work immediately.

What does good engineering leadership look like? Gain valuable insight and useful techniques to put into action.

What Happened Last Year

Highlights from speakers and attendees at Calibrate 2015.

Speakers (2016)

These are the people we wish we worked for.

Marcy Swenson

Marcy Swenson

Startup Happiness, Executive Coach

Marcy is an executive coach, as well as a seasoned technology professional, and a veteran of several successful startups. As a founder at Critical Path, she built the tech team that led to IPO. Forbes named CPTH the fastest growing high tech company in the world in 1999 (3 to 3000 in 4 years). Marcy is a co-founder & executive coach at Startup Happiness, where she helps entrepreneurs with everything from basic leadership skills to deep personal growth.

Michael Lopp

Michael Lopp

Slack, VP of Engineering

Michael is a Silicon Valley-based engineering leader who builds both people and product at companies such as Borland, Netscape, Palantir, and Apple. While he's not worrying about staying relevant, he writes about pens, bridges, people, poker, and werewolves at the popular weblog, 'Rands in Repose'. He currently works as the VP of Engineering at Slack in San Francisco.

Jocelyn Goldfein

Jocelyn Goldfein

Angel Investor

Angel investor, startup advisor, and tech industry spokesperson Jocelyn Goldfein has a long history building products and leading engineering teams. At Facebook, she led new product development for news feed and photos before spearheading the company's pivot to native mobile app development. As an early engineer at VMware she was instrumental in the company's hypergrowth and ultimately established and ran the desktop business unit. Jocelyn also led development teams at startups MessageOne and pcOrder. She studied computer science at Stanford University.

Michael Ruggiero

Michael Ruggiero

Sharethrough, Director of Exchange Engineering

Michael has worked as an engineer for FormFactor, Nokia, and adBrite, and led backend development for Live Nation. As a leader, Michael believes that managers prioritizing employee satisfaction and engagement are destined to reap the most in terms of team performance. As a father of three, he is consistently reminded that "no one talks like that anymore."

Janice Fraser

Janice Fraser

Pivotal, Director, Innovation Practice

Janice is one of America's leading experts on Lean Startup. She has coached many organizations including the White House, Navy Seals Training Command, Lyft, and Proctor & Gamble. Janice's current role is to enable Pivotal’s quickly scaling teams to apply Lean and Agile methodologies to solve critical business issues.

Ryan Atkins

Ryan Atkins

Dropbox, Engineering Operations

Ryan works to improve the productivity of engineers and is on the Engineering Operations team at Dropbox. Over the past few years, he has onboarded hundreds of engineers, built and scaled mentorship programs, and coached dozens of engineering managers and technical leaders. Prior to working in technology, Ryan spent just over a decade in the classroom, preparing low-income, underrepresented minority students for college.

Cynthia Maxwell

Cynthia Maxwell

Slack, Director iOS Engineering

Cynthia is a Director of iOS Engineering at Slack and has led flagship mobile engineering projects for other companies such as Apple and Pinterest. She has a Ph.D. in Computer Science from UC Berkeley and a MS in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford. She is a Code2040 mentor and advisor to women in technology.

Kallol Das

Kallol Das

Invoice2go, VP of Engineering

Kallol is Invoice2go’s first Vice President of Engineering. He is responsible for leading engineering efforts across a global team that spans three continents, and driving software innovation for small business owners around the world. Prior to Invoice2go, Kallol served as the Vice President of Engineering at Path. Before Path, he was the Vice President of Software Engineering at Salesforce, where he led the teams working on the company’s Service Cloud and Sales Cloud product lines. Das’ career has also included software development management roles at Amazon. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from McGill University.

Tasneem Minadakis

Tasneem Minadakis

Uber, Head of Rider Growth

Tasneem Minadakis is Head of Rider Growth at Uber. She has over 12+ years of professional experience building quality products and 7+ years of experience building high performing teams. She derives passion from taking on big challenges, dealing with ambiguity and using good judgment to build, execute and deliver. She aspires to foster an open and collaborative work environment with optimal transparency, willingness to change for the better and always strive to be self-critical.

Program (2016)

Registration & Breakfast


Sonya Green Program Director, Calibrate

Hacking Leadership

In this talk, we'll walk through a finite set of hacks that you can instantly apply to your day to help be a better leader.

Michael Lopp Slack, VP of Engineering

Developing Your Team

What divides an engineering manager from a tech lead or a project manager is the responsibility to build and develop a team. As a manager, you need different tools to help new grads rise to independence and to help accomplished software engineers mature into seniority, and to help senior engineers to break through to the next level. Let's ask the question "Can you take responsibility for developing engineers who are at or senior to your own level?" (Spoiler alert: yes.)

Jocelyn Goldfein Angel Investor


You Keep Using that Word: What Do 1:1s Really Mean?

We have limited time to get our work done, let alone spending hours wasting engineers' time. So what are you doing with your 1:1s? 1:1s are way more than an "oil change" ritual; it's the richest and most profound way to connect with your people. With strategies and techniques that make the 1:1 more honest and vital, we'll demonstrate how taking the one-on-one just a little more seriously builds relationships and spurs your employees' growth.

Michael Ruggiero Sharethrough, Director of Exchange Engineering

What Should I be doing Right Now?!

As a manager, time is one of your most precious resources, and it can be a challenge to allocate it effectively and efficiently. In my presentation, I will be focusing on simple tools to help you focus and plan your day. We will start by breaking down the major job functions of a manager and then explore detailed examples of strategies to resolve competing priorities. I will also share resources that work for me personally as a manager. By the end of our discussion, I hope that you will have the tools to be able to quickly judge where your attention is most needed at any given time.

Cynthia Maxwell Slack, Director iOS Engineering

Lunch // Planning for October

One of the challenges of leadership is in developing connections with other leaders to both teach and learn from. Our challenge to you is to make one connection today. Meet one person to follow up with in October. What could they help you with? What have you recently levelled up in that might help them? Pro-tip: Not the person you came with :)

You! Brilliant Engineering Manager @ Calibrate


Say it Right - The Art of Giving Feedback

Being an good coach starts with being effective at giving feedback. This talk will give you a basic framework on how to provide quality feedback to your employees. You will learn tips to structure both positive and constructive feedback more effectively. You will also learn a few do's and dont's when delivering constructive feedback with your team.

Tasneem Minadakis Uber, Head of Rider Growth

The Leadership Machine: All the research about female career advancement summed up in one usable diagram

Even after 20 years in Silicon Valley, Janice Fraser was baffled by the hundreds of articles and studies that each try to explain why women don't advance into senior leadership at the same rate as men. Drawing upon dozens of these publications, Janice has mapped out the system, in simple boxes and arrows, showing clearly where the leaks are in the leadership pipeline for women, and how we can plug them. Her findings provide a powerful roadmap for men and women who want to do better for themselves and their colleagues. By courageously looking at how people really advance and what holds them back, we can each develop explicit strategies for managing our own careers and understanding how best to support others.

Janice Fraser Pivotal, Director, Innovation Practice

Accelerating Impact: Onboarding & Mentorship

First impressions matter. Learn how to leverage the onboarding experience and mentorship relationships for your new engineers to accelerate their impact while deliberately shaping your engineering culture.

Ryan Atkins Dropbox, Engineering Operations


Embracing Inconsistency

Hiring and retaining teams, facilitating their productivity, focusing on both speed and delivery: this is what we do every day and it's full of obstacles. I've noticed a common thread in many of the obstacles I've faced, so often it has become like an old friend (or frenemy is a better term): inconsistency. I'll talk about some examples of the inconsistencies that are part and parcel of our roles as technical leaders and I'll describe some strategies for not only mitigating this ever-present companion but for embracing it.

Kallol Das Invoice2go, VP of Engineering

Three Best Practices to Increase Your Happiness in Meetings

As a leader, you are suddenly in a lot more meetings than you were as an individual contributor. There are some tried & true suggestions for making meetings more effective: start on time, have an agenda, and put away your devices ... but how can you actually improve the quality of all meetings, whether you’re the facilitator or an attendee? I’ll share three best practices that I teach my clients over and over, that will give you a whole different perspective on meetings.

Marcy Swenson Startup Happiness, Executive Coach

Happy Hour


Calibrate 2016 was held on September 30 in San Francisco, at the Terra Gallery

Terra Gallery, 511 Harrison St., San Francisco

Our Sponsor (2016)

Pivotal is a partner for enterprises and startups that want to build the new future. We offer a modern approach to technology that organizations need to thrive in a new era of business innovation. Our solutions intersect cloud, big data and agile software development, creating a framework that increases data leverage, accelerates application delivery, and decreases costs, while providing enterprises the speed and scale they need to compete.

Pivotal Labs® is the software development consultancy unit of Pivotal, committed to transforming how the world builds software. For more than 25 years, Pivotal Labs has pioneered agile software development, bridging the gap between technical and cultural transformation. By combining lean startup principles, user centered design, and data science to our agile development process, we have helped the world’s most recognized enterprises and startups learn and adopt the methods required to deliver reliable, scalable software products and incredible digital experiences, while transforming their organizations in the process.