The Engineering Leadership Podcast · Episode 79

Translating engineering to the CEO

with Andrew Lau and Eli Daniel

Apr 05, 2022
Communication between engineering leadership and the CEO is crucial, and not without its challenges. In this special episode Andrew Lau (Co-Founder & CEO @ Jellyfish) and Eli Daniel (Head Of Engineering @ Jellyfish) give us an inside look into their own working relationship and share tips for optimal collaboration between engineering leaders, CEOs and "the business."
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ABOUT ANDREW LAU

Andrew Man-Hon Lau (@amlau) is Co-Founder and CEO of Jellyfish, the leading Engineering Management Platform (EMP) that provides complete visibility into engineering organizations, the work they do, and how they operate.

Prior to Jellyfish, Andrew was the Chief Strategy Officer for ad-tech leader Nanigans after his social retail-tech company LoopIt was acquired. He also previously helped create companies at Redstar Ventures. Andrew was VP Engineering and founding technology team member of Endeca Technologies, an enterprise search software company that was acquired by Oracle Technologies for over $1B. He also has experience at companies such as Microsoft and IBM.

Andrew holds a B.S. in Computer Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is a certified barbecue judge for the Kansas City Barbecue Society. He hails from Oakland, CA and is still an avid fan of the Oakland Athletics despite living in Red Sox country for over 20 years. He lives in Cambridge, MA with his wife Elsie and two young children Callie and Mira.

"There's a game of distrust already happening here, or at least his satisfaction.

And dissatisfaction could be why is it something else coming out faster? Like I thought this has been done? Or this thing didn't come out good. Or my favorite person isn't working on this thing.

The supposition in the set person's head is that something's wrong with the work assignment, patterns slash it's the wrong matching of people to work or they're doing some stuff is wasting time.

Use the act of sharing it and their critique on the specific things to try to suss out what their discontent with...

- Andrew Lau   

ABOUT ELI DANIEL

Eli Daniel is Head of Engineering at Jellyfish, where he leads the efforts to develop our software products.  He comes to Jellyfish by way of 20+ years in the Boston tech scene, having seen both successful exits and smoldering craters, which have led to a keen interest in what makes successful product development teams go.Eli holds a BS in Computer Science from Yale.  He lives with his family and labrador retriever in Somerville, MA, and looks forward to returning to his regular bike-commute to work.

"I would try hard to head that thing off at the pass and be like, ‘Whoa! whoa! whoa! Like what... Help me understand, what are you trying to do with this information? How can I help you get what you actually want?

Because I don't think it's a list of tasks you haven't heard of that the junior person is working on over there.’”

- Eli Daniel   


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

Learn more at Jellyfish.co/elc


SHOW NOTES:

  • Translating engineering to the CEO (2:50)
  • The tension between CEO and Head of Engineering (3:54)
  • 1:1’s with the CEO (7:01)
  • The disconnect between CEO and engineering leaders (8:22)
  • How to navigate mistrust from the CEO (12:44)
  • Maintaining clarity with the CEO (17:15)
  • Reporting hiring challenges for engineering (19:50)
  • Hero developers don’t scale (27:02)
  • What level of business insight do engineering leaders need? (36:40)
  • Should engineering teams adopt trending frameworks? (39:10)
  • Managing release expectations (45:11)
  • How engineering leaders can stay in tune with business priorities (53:01)
  • Takeaways (59:18)
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