The Engineering Leadership Podcast · Episode 103

Reinventing your role and refocusing your team in the face of the unknown

with Maher Saba

Oct 12, 2022
We cover reinventing your role and refocusing your eng team in the face of the unknown with Maher Saba, Head of Remote Presence and Engineering @ Meta! He discusses his leadership history from IBM to Microsoft to Meta and how he took on IC roles to gain credibility as an eng leader. We also cover how to productively channel & embrace emotions to drive improvement, frameworks for motivating eng orgs, how to incorporate personal feedback into your product, how the pandemic offered opportunities to pivot into the unknown, refocusing eng teams after challenges/periods of uncertainty, and more!
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ABOUT MAHER SABA

Maher Saba is the Head of Remote Presence and Engineering at Meta and is responsible for creating rich social, real-time video and audio experiences that connect people while they’re physically apart. Saba has held numerous Engineering leadership roles at Meta, and during his time at the company he launched Video on Newsfeed, Facebook Live, Facebook Watch, Messenger Rooms and Live Audio Rooms. Before Meta, Saba worked at IBM and Microsoft as a developer and software engineering lead, eventually becoming a Distinguished Engineer at Microsoft. Saba has a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University and holds a Master of Science in Computer Science from The University of Texas at Austin.

“He goes, ‘Have you ever written an endpoint?’ I said, ‘I'm actually curious to know what an endpoint is.’ And he goes, ‘Have you written anything in Ruby?’ I'm like, ‘No, I've never seen the language before.’ He goes, ‘How about Go Language?’ I'm like, Rob Pike just came up with Go Language. Nobody knows it.’ And he's like, ‘So, you know nothing.’ I'm like, ‘I know nothing. I just wanna be in a place where either I sink or swim and the best way for me to know this is to jump with both feet into the deep.’”

- Maher Saba   


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SHOW NOTES:

  • Maher Saba’s transition from Microsoft to Meta (01:54)
  • Why Maher restarted as an IC to gain credibility before moving back into eng management (7:08)
  • Embrace emotions in order to gain focus & drive improvement (12:14)
  • How Maher refocused his work at the start of the pandemic & what it’s like jumping into the unknown (16:48)
  • Frameworks for motivating eng teams to focus on execution (22:28)
  • Maher’s favorite experiences from his team’s show-and-tell sessions (26:59)
  • Incorporating feedback into your product from personal sources – like your mother! (28:29)
  • Post-pandemic challenges & how to address them (31:27)
  • How to refocus eng teams after periods of uncertainty (36:16)
  • Do’s and don'ts for inspiring teams to be part of a turnaround (39:35)
  • Why Maher is excited for the unknowns surrounding the metaverse (42:00)
  • Rapid fire questions (43:51)

LINKS AND RESOURCES

  • The Swerve - Stephen Greenblatt’s book on how the discovery of an Ancient Greek poem changed the course of human thought and shaped the world as we know it today.
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