The Engineering Leadership Podcast · Episode 76

Hypergrowth, Scaling & Org Design

with Surabhi Gupta

Mar 15, 2022
Discerning what to prioritize is key to success for any organization, and even more critical during hypergrowth. Surabhi Gupta (Head of Engineering @ Robinhood) shares how she identified current and future priorities as their eng org scaled from 300 to 1,000+ engineers. Plus her approach to org design, how to set up new hires for success during hyper growth, and a framework for predicting future personnel requirements.
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Surabhi Gupta (@surbs) is the VP of Product Engineering at Robinhood, where she oversees the company's growing engineering organization. Prior to Robinhood, Surabhi spent seven years at Airbnb where she was Head of Engineering for Airbnb's Homes business. During her tenure at Airbnb, she led a variety of teams such as Search, Growth, Guest and Host. Before Airbnb, she was a Software Engineer at Google, where she worked on web search ranking, and the Google Now team on predictive search. Surabhi holds a M.S. in Computer Science from Stanford.

"These are not insurmountable problems. So when you make that case to other leaders, especially outside of engineering, I think it's important that...

‘Hey, we're not going for this ideal world of no technical debt. It's just that here's the impact of not focusing on it. The impact of not focusing on this technical debt is that we are going to see outages and there will be this false sense of progress because every time the engineers try to focus on some product work, they're going to have to go on this outage and solve that.’

I think the best way to put it really is you are treading water at that point.”

- Surabhi Gupta 

Check out our friends and sponsor, Jellyfish. Jellyfish helps you align engineering work with business priorities and enables you to make better strategic decisions.

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  • Joining Robinhood in the pandemic (2:23)
  • How new leaders can eliminate bottlenecks (6:59)
  • How to amend decisions previously made by Executive Team Members (8:58)
  • Robinhood’s growth from 300 engineers to 1,000 (11:49)
  • The 3 aspects of scaling (12:46)
  • Why process makes people happy (14:45)
  • The effects of scaling on team structure (17:33)
  • How to approach org design (19:23)
  • Why flatter org structures are better for hypergrowth (21:36)
  • How to perform org alignment check-ups (24:37)
  • Forming the executive engineering team (25:55)
  • A framework for predicting future personnel requirements (29:26)
  • How to set up new hires for success during hypergrowth (32:42)
  • Successfully onboarding senior leaders during hypergrowth (34:25)
  • Cultivating a sense of belonging in the present “future of work” (36:03)
  • Finding the right engineering teams for new hires (39:18)
  • Rapid Fire Questions (41:07)
  • Takeaways (45:47)
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