The Engineering Leadership Podcast · Episode 77

How eng orgs (and careers) evolve through hyper-growth

with Samir Naik

Mar 22, 2022
Samir Naik (Head of Engineering, Core Products @ Plaid) shares how Plaid’s engineering org has evolved over the last 10 years & the many unexpected ways his own career has transformed alongside Plaid. Samir deconstructs 3 different growth phases at Plaid, the indicators that your company is ready for the next growth stage, and how to choose an emerging tech city to expand to! Plus critical questions that helped guide Samir’s career within Plaid.
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Samir Naik (@samirnaik) is Head of Engineering for Plaid’s Core Products, overseeing a cross-functional team of product managers, engineers, designers, marketers building and scaling our core APIs. Having worn many hats throughout his years at Plaid, he’s managed teams large and small and as the first external engineering manager hire, he’s been instrumental in building Plaid’s engineering function from the ground up. Previously, Samir led teams at Dropbox, Zynga, and Disney.

"I made the comment... I was like, 'I don't think a lot of this is really engineering-focused, right? It doesn't seem super relevant to the engineering team..."

And he kind of just paused and looked at me and was like, 'That is your job! Doesn't matter if it's engineering or not, you need to fix these problems.'

And I think it was a mindset shift for me, and it was really helpful feedback. But I think it kind of framed that there's a bunch of seams in an organization. Doesn't matter whether they're engineering or not, but I really need to look for those seams and those opportunities and make sure they're addressed, whether that's in my job description or not.

- Samir Naik   

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  • What was Plaid like in 2017? (2:56)
  • Approaching Eng Mgmt as a business within a business (6:47)
  • The three growth phases of Plaid (7:55)
  • Deciding the sequence of scaling for an engineering organization (13:10)
  • Relying on Eng Managers for project management (14:56)
  • How to attract Sr Engineers during hyper growth (16:55)
  • Maturing from a single product to multiple business units (18:35)
  • Org maturity as a lagging indicator of success (20:08)
  • Indicators that your company is ready for growth stage 2 (21:10)
  • How scaling turned Samir’s role into a more business-focused function (24:04)
  • How to choose an emerging tech city to expand to (27:32)
  • The need for “2nd communities” in remote organizations (31:58)
  • Indicators that your company is ready for growth stage 3 (34:48)
  • How long should you delay growth stage 3? (38:29)
  • Evolving company culture as the organization scales (40:10)
  • Handing off easy tasks that can be growth opportunities for others (43:40)
  • Rapid Fire Questions (46:23)
  • Takeaways (50:00)
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