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 loves solving challenging engineering problems at scale, growing businesses, and leading teams. She’s currently the Head of Infrastructure Engineering at Slack, having grown the team from 10 to 60+. She excels in high-velocity environments especially during hyper growth: Slack engineering headcount grew from 100 to over 350 during her first two years, with her team growing 5x in size. She advises early and mid-stage startups, having extensive experience not only raising venture capital funding (including from top tier investors such as Andreessen Horowitz), and sold her previous company, Tindie, where she was the co-founder and CTO. She has also founded and sat on several advisory boards for startups and as well as large, multi-billion dollar non-profits. She holds a BS with Honors and 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, always trying to squeeze a run in (including chasing her young daughter)!

Leave a Comment or Question

Help us make this conference the best it can be for you. Have questions you'd like this speaker to address? Suggestions for issues that deserve extra attention? Feedback that you'd like to share with the speaker and other attendees?

Join the conversation here (requires login)


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.