Building and maintaining complex distributed systems
June 19–20, 2017: Training
June 20–22, 2017: Tutorials & Conference
San Jose, CA

10,000 messages a minute: Lessons learned from building engineering teams under pressure

Julia Grace (Slack)
1:15pm–1:55pm Wednesday, June 21, 2017
Technical Leadership
Location: LL21 E/F
Level: Non-technical
Average rating: ****.
(4.92, 13 ratings)

Who is this presentation for?

  • Engineering managers, team leads, tech leads, and IC engineers interested in team dynamics

What you'll learn

  • Explore high-functioning teams
  • Learn how to evaluate if your current teams are high functioning


Julia Grace has built teams at IBM Research, startups, and Slack and has done due diligence for venture capitalists to determine how well a startup’s engineering team is working together. Drawing on this knowledge, Julia attempts to answer the question, Why do some teams ship features rapidly, support each other, and effectively communicate while others struggle?

Topics include:

  • How to turn constraints into advantages
  • What is a high-functioning team?
  • The foundation for building a high-functioning team
  • Advice for taking over a team or building a new team
Photo of Julia Grace

Julia Grace


Julia Grace is the head of infrastructure engineering at Slack, where she grew her team from 10 people to 60+. She excels in high-velocity environments, especially during hypergrowth, and loves solving challenging engineering problems at scale. She advises early- and mid-stage startups and has extensive experience raising venture capital funding (including from top-tier investors such as Andreessen Horowitz). Previously, she was cofounder and CTO at Tindie, which she sold, and founded and sat on several advisory boards for startups and large multibillion-dollar nonprofits. Julia holds a BS with honors and an MS in computer science from the University of North Carolina, where her research focused on operating systems, including building a distributed system that allowed peer-to-peer data sharing from internet browser caches in low connectivity. She is an avid athlete and former collegiate rower and is always trying to squeeze a run in (even if it’s just chasing her young daughter).

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Milind Khandekar | N/A
06/22/2017 11:50pm PDT

Managing a team of incredible talent and varying personality is very tough. Thanks Julia for sharing your 7 points and lot of tips to get some handle on it. We already do a team lunch, will try to implement rest of the tips to provide psychological safety and clarity to the team.

Picture of Dale Hamel
06/21/2017 7:09am PDT

Great talk! Julia is an amazing presenter.