16 episodes

Keeping software engineers in flow and unblocked is one of the key responsibilities of software development leaders. In each episode of the Engineering Unblocked podcast, Rebecca Murphey interviews leaders who have navigated challenges of scale, complexity, and growth. You’ll hear from people with lived experience across the software development ecosystem, from CTOs and VPEs to directors and line managers to product managers, program managers, tech leads, and more.

Engineering Unblocked Swarmia

    • Technology

Keeping software engineers in flow and unblocked is one of the key responsibilities of software development leaders. In each episode of the Engineering Unblocked podcast, Rebecca Murphey interviews leaders who have navigated challenges of scale, complexity, and growth. You’ll hear from people with lived experience across the software development ecosystem, from CTOs and VPEs to directors and line managers to product managers, program managers, tech leads, and more.

    What makes a Platform Team work with Mason Jones from Zapier

    What makes a Platform Team work with Mason Jones from Zapier

    Mason Jones recently started a new role at Zapier, where he’s bringing his platform leadership experience from Lattice and Credit Karma.

    In this episode, Mason shares his thoughts on what makes a platform team work, common tradeoffs in platform development, and the challenges of making your team’s work visible and understandable to the whole organization.

    Find the transcript at: https://www.unblocked.fm/episodes/mason-jones-zapier/

    Timestamps
    (0:00) Introductions
    (0:39) Mason’s journey to Zapier
    (4:39) How Mason joined the platform team
    (8:48) Naming teams
    (11:10) The mechanics of reorienting
    (15:46) Transitioning from infrastructure to platform
    (20:44) Goal-setting using data
    (24:39) Mason’s take on product managers
    (28:48) Detangling a monolith into services
    (33:49) Federating vs. centralizing
    (37:04) How Mason approaches standardization
    (41:22) How to communicate
    (44:58) The value of case studies
    (47:08) What Mason wants to achieve in a year


    Follow Mason on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/masonjones/

    Follow Rebecca on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rmurphey/

    Links and mentions
    • Zapier: https://zapier.com/
    • Credit Karma: https://www.creditkarma.com/

    • 48 min
    Pulling off a multi-month tech debt paydown project with Alice Bartlett from Financial Times

    Pulling off a multi-month tech debt paydown project with Alice Bartlett from Financial Times

    Alice Bartlett, Tech Director for Customer Products at the Financial Times, shares what it takes to introduce modern technology to a 136-year-old company and how to successfully lead significant efforts to re-architect understandable but unfortunate decisions of the past.

    In this episode, Rebecca and Alice dig deep on one of those decisions and how she got the work funded and how she got the work done.

    Find the transcript at: https://www.unblocked.fm/episodes/alice-bartlett-financial-times/

    Timestamps
    (0:00) Introductions
    (1:06) Alice’s journey to the FT
    (5:17) About the FT’s pink paper
    (7:20) The FT’s history of innovation
    (11:52) Organizational changes at the FT
    (13:54) How Alice fixed an architectural flaw
    (19:34) The importance of communication
    (24:21) Changing an overly-complicated system
    (27:02) Blameless culture
    (29:15) How Alice keeps engagement high
    (32:40) Maintaining the new system
    (34:53) All-use cases and bugs
    (39:19) Alice’s take on tech


    Follow Alice on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/alicebartlett/

    Follow Rebecca on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rmurphey/

    Links and mentions
    • Financial Times: https://www.ft.com/
    • The Pragmatic Programmer: https://www.amazon.com/Pragmatic-Programmer-Journeyman-Master/dp/020161622X

    • 42 min
    The evolution of data engineering in the age of AI with Colleen Tartow from VAST Data

    The evolution of data engineering in the age of AI with Colleen Tartow from VAST Data

    Colleen Tartow, Field CTO and Head of Strategy at VAST Data, shares her experience from years in data engineering leadership roles.

    In this episode, Rebecca and Colleen talk about how “data” has evolved over the years, how AI is turning everything we know about data upside down, and how a PhD in Astrophysics got her started on this path.

    Find the transcript at: https://www.unblocked.fm/episodes/colleen-tartow-vast/

    Timestamps
    (0:00) Introductions
    (0:44) Colleen’s background
    (3:01) About VAST’s approach
    (7:18) Unique challenges of data engineering
    (10:56) Setting reasonable expectations
    (13:34) The importance of process
    (16:29) The future of data engineering
    (21:00) What Colleen misses about engineering
    (22:39) How to set goals for a data organization
    (25:58) Colleen’s perspective on people in business
    (29:58) Colleen’s unusual path to data


    Follow Colleen on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/colleen-tartow-phd/

    Follow Rebecca on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rmurphey/

    Links and mentions
    • VAST Data: https://www.vastdata.com/

    • 32 min
    Building scaleups without hero culture with Andrea Corey from Homebase

    Building scaleups without hero culture with Andrea Corey from Homebase

    Andrea Corey is a VP of Engineering for platform engineering at Homebase.

    In today’s episode, Rebecca and Andrea talk about Andrea’s experience in working at scaleups, the lessons she’s learned, the pitfalls she’s trained herself to avoid, and some of the biggest problems leaders need to solve as their organization grows.

    Find the transcript at: https://www.unblocked.fm/episodes/andrea-corey-homebase/

    Timestamps
    (0:00) Introductions
    (0:46) Andrea’s background
    (4:37) Unlocking potential among teams
    (7:02) About Homebase’s team strategy
    (11:26) Tips to make ideas a reality
    (15:20) How Andrea manages multiple teams
    (18:11) Countering hero culture
    (21:44) Incident handling
    (25:19) Setting goals around incidents
    (27:23) Avoiding past mistakes
    (33:45) When to federate vs. centralize
    (37:01) Who Andrea wants to be

    Follow Andrea on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/andreacorey/

    Follow Rebecca on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rmurphey/

    Links and mentions
    • Homebase: https://joinhomebase.com/
    • FreshBooks: https://www.freshbooks.com/
    • Eloqua: https://www.oracle.com/cx/marketing/automation/

    • 38 min
    Change: It’s a long game with Liz Hustedt from ActBlue

    Change: It’s a long game with Liz Hustedt from ActBlue

    Liz Hustedt is a Senior Engineering Manager at ActBlue, an American political action committee and fundraising platform established serving left-leaning and Democratic nonprofits and politicians.

    In today’s episode, Rebecca and Liz talk about how Liz’s early experience as an ICU nurse shaped her leadership skills and style, and about managing change in a way that’s empathetic to where the organization is at the moment.

    Find the transcript at: https://www.unblocked.fm/episodes/liz-hustedt-actblue

    Timestamps
    (00:00) Introductions
    (00:50) Liz’s background
    (04:00) About ActBlue and Liz’s experience there
    (08:55) Understanding team health
    (12:35) Building trust
    (15:15) Roadmap planning
    (20:07) How Liz and her team are evaluated
    (21:21) About outcome-driven goals
    (26:26) Tips to transition towards outcome-driven goals
    (28:59) Skills needed in management
    (34:34) Managing through change
    (40:50) Milestones and who Liz wants to be

    Follow Liz on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lizhustedt/

    Follow Rebecca on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rmurphey/

    Links and mentions
    • ActBlue: https://secure.actblue.com/

    • 46 min
    Crafting a career at the intersection of tech and people with Scott Bonneau from Karat

    Crafting a career at the intersection of tech and people with Scott Bonneau from Karat

    Scott Bonneau is the EVP of Product and Operations at Karat, the end-to-end solution for technical hiring. Before Karat, Scott has worked in various engineering and HR roles at Google and Indeed.

    In today’s episode, Rebecca and Scott discuss Scott’s career at the intersection of technology and people, how leaders can win the trust of a team that they’ve inherited, and how the tech industry has changed over the past 30 years.

    Find the transcript at: https://www.unblocked.fm/episodes/scott-bonneau-karat

    Timestamps
    (00:00) Introductions
    (02:18) Scott’s journey to his current role
    (07:10) About Karat
    (11:05) The role of EVP Product & Operations at Karat
    (15:43) How to keep everyone close to the ultimate company goal
    (22:15) Navigating low-trust environments
    (27:15) What has changed in tech industry during Scott’s career
    (30:40) How AI is going to change in the tech industry — especially for junior engineers
    (35:35) What is changing with regards to the hire-ability of developers
    (38:01) Where you can find Scott play music

    Follow Scott on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/bonneau/

    Follow Rebecca on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rmurphey/

    Links and mentions
    • Karat: https://karat.com/
    • Indeed: https://www.indeed.com/
    • The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: https://www.tablegroup.com/product/dysfunctions/

    • 40 min

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