Build resilient systems at scale
October 12–14, 2015 • New York, NY

The path forward: Scaling management without sacrificing culture

Mike Rembetsy (Bloomberg), Patrick McDonnell (Etsy)
11:00am–12:30pm Monday, 10/12/2015
Location: Nassau Suite
Average rating: ***..
(3.78, 18 ratings)
Slides:   1-PDF 

Why do engineers in individual contributor roles decide to become managers? Is it because they believe they will have more decision-making power or wield more influence over their peers? Is it because they believe their careers will stagnate or they will be paid less if they don’t get “promoted” into management?

At Etsy, managers become managers because they want to facilitate the career growth of others, coordinate efforts at the human level, and push to improve culture both within their teams and the organization as a whole. We love to grow our own managers, and in engineering we have a homegrown to hired-in ratio approaching 2:1. We believe that helping someone who have been in the trenches at Etsy as an individual contributor put their knowledge to use in a managerial role is the best way to carry forward the unique culture we’ve fostered, into the mature phase Etsy is now entering.

But how can we be successful in minting first-time managers and foster growth in veteran managers? How can we give them the skills and knowledge they need to be not only great technical leaders, but great leaders of humans? This talk will focus on the steps Etsy has taken to overcome many of the pitfalls that lie in the path of transitioning from individual contributor to manager.

We will discuss how our Learning and Development team coaches fresh, future, and veteran managers through the Manager Onboarding System, workshops, and “den meetings.” We will focus on techniques current managers can use to give soon-to-be managers confidence in their abilities moving into their new role. We will also highlight lessons learned about bringing up new managers, including how to define managerial responsibilities, setting expectations around a manager’s potential impact on the organization, avoiding making assumptions about a new manager’s thought process, and facilitating inter-manager interactions.

Photo of Mike Rembetsy

Mike Rembetsy


Michael Rembetsy is the Manager of Systems Engineer Bloomberg. He currently over sees all systems level engineering and infrastructure platform engineering with the Bloomberg infrastructure group. He has fostered a culture of learning and mindfulness at Bloomberg. Mike has worked in system operations for over 15 years in the web, healthcare, online media and financial industries. He started out in the help desk area before moving to engineering and has been building and running engineering teams ever since. In previous jobs he worked for Etsy, iVillage, NBC Universal and McDonalds.

Patrick McDonnell


Patrick McDonnell is the web operations manager at Etsy.

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