Build Systems that Drive Business
June 11–12, 2018: Training
June 12–14, 2018: Tutorials & Conference
San Jose, CA

Scaling yourself during hypergrowth: Lessons learned managing managers

Julia Grace (Slack)
11:25am–12:05pm Thursday, June 14, 2018
Location: LL20 A/B Level: Non-technical
Secondary topics: Leadership & Career Growth
Average rating: *****
(5.00, 14 ratings)

Who is this presentation for?

  • Engineering managers at all levels, tech leads, and senior individual contributors

What you'll learn

  • Learn best practices for building high-performing management teams


A year ago, Julia Grace spoke at Velocity about building engineering teams under pressure. These teams were were mostly composed of ICs (individual contributors), and the tips were geared toward line managers in diverse, fast growing environments.

Fast forward to today: now Julia manages managers (including directors who manage managers) and several very senior ICs as Slack’s engineering organization has grown 3.5x in size. Along the way, she’s learned a lot about how to effectively lead managers (and grow them from within).

Join Julia to learn how she made this transition into senior engineering leadership and how she builds high-performing management teams. The role of managing managers is much different from managing ICs, and there is much less written about how to be a successful senior engineering leader and technology executive. The hard-earned skills from being a line manager can come to haunt you as a senior leader, proving the axiom “What got you here won’t get you there.” Julia shares missteps line managers make on their way to senior management and all the things she wishes she had known before starting this journey.

Topics include:

  • Helping people with their management problems without dive bombing or micromanaging
  • How to manage organizational challenges like re-orgs and leadership changes
  • Struggling—and making progress—with building a diverse team
  • How to communicate up and down and why this is especially important at very senior levels
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).