The Engineering Leadership Podcast · Episode 75

A Counter-Intuitive Approach to Career Growth & Internal Mobility

with Tara Ellis

Mar 08, 2022
In today’s hiring environment, it’s unreasonable to expect someone to stay on your team forever. So how do you prioritize both the success of your team/company AND support the career growth of folks on your team? Tara Ellis (Engineering Leader, Animation Content Engineering @ Netflix) shares her approach to career growth & why she encourages her team to outgrow their roles! Plus, how to help someone understand if management is the right next step and how other leaders can begin facilitating a growth mentality in their organizations.
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Tara Ellis (@maverick_mind) is an avid tinkerer and has been since the early days of the world wide web. As a critical and creative thinker, she is a relentless problem-solver skilled in applying analysis, technical knowledge, and strong interpersonal skills in her leadership style. Tara is a strong believer in “Peopleware” and because of that has a keen understanding of building and leading teams that deliver.

As a leader at Netflix, Tara has led diverse engineering teams including continuously improving the Payments and Non-Member Experience to bring in new Netflix members globally. Currently, she leads teams in Animation Studio and Production Engineering in building products that power the Netflix Animation Studio ecosystem. Prior to joining Netflix, she led engineering teams at Disney Parks; if you’ve been to Disneyland or Disneyworld in the last decade, you’ve interacted with some of her teams’ software. She honed her engineering skills in the fast-paced, ever-changing environment at Amazon, learning lessons she still uses today.

Outside of work, Tara loves to spend time with her family, cooking and traveling. She is a passionate collector and player of board games and a music aficionado.

“When someone joins my team, I try to spend a fair bit of time with the expectation that you are not going to be here forever. I hope you are here as long as I can keep you. As long as our journeys kind of go together.

But at some point, whether that be a year, three years, five years... you're going to outgrow this. That's just the nature of work. And so I like to be really upfront about that. And then I also like to prepare for that!”

- Tara Ellis   


  • Why should you help engineers outgrow their positions? (1:46)
  • How to discuss career growth with your team members ( 4:15)
  • Be a multiplier for the people you’re leading (5:53)
  • A framework for managers to facilitate growth (9:02)
  • Supporting skills acquisition for engineering contributors (12:44)
  • Helping someone understand whether they should be manager (16:12)
  • How to help first-time managers make less mistakes (25:09)
  • Communicating with compassionate directness (28:52)
  • Netflix’s pivot to growing people internally (32:45)
  • How managers can begin facilitating a growth mentality for their teams (42:41)
  • Rapid Fire Questions (45:21)
  • Takeaways (51:35)


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