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3 Ways to Grow your Engineering Career at Appian

Ankit Ankit Mehta

APN16403

Hi, I'm Ankit. That's me up there on the left. I started at Appian six years ago as a Software Development Engineer and after a few years, I wanted a new challenge. I talked about it with my manager and learned about the three main career paths you can grow into in Engineering at Appian. I decided to go towards the people management path.

Now I’m an Engineering Manager, (my fancy title is Technical Mentor of Software Development) and part of my role is making sure career growth is intentional and supported for Engineers at Appian. Here are three of the main paths you can grow into at Appian, and the support you’ll get from the team. 

1. Technical track: Senior Technical Leader

You want to continue being an individual contributor and focus on technical skills. If you’re interested in moving to a new Engineering role, Appian provides opportunities for people to switch roles and teams for a quarter. After quarter rotations, there have been Software Engineers becoming Product Managers and so many others.

For example, Tanvee Badheka, is now one of my direct reports and did a quarter rotation on another squad before joining them. She was working as a Quality Engineer for more than 2 years but was interested in focusing and expanding on her technical skills, especially in the area of performance engineering. So, she joined a new team and worked on performance tests, performance investigations, data analysis and really enjoyed it and this summer she moved to the same team in a Software Engineer role. 

2. Coaching track: Agile Coach or Scrum Master

You love project management and the agile way of working. We lead with agility as a company, and these roles are so important for managing our engineering and product work. At Appian, this track offers similar opportunities to help plan and deliver projects, without taking on the responsibilities of managing people. You can do all of this and stay in touch with technology because Agile Coaches at Appian have 50% of their time reserved for coding.

3. Management track: People Manager 

You want to lead a team of talented engineers. I quickly learned this was my route! Now I’m an Engineering Manager and it’s been a smooth transition and also a big learning curve with lots of support.

There are many resources to help new managers at Appian. I completed the internal Appian MBA program earlier this year where there’s a set of courses, book discussions on managing teams and leading people, and opportunities to meet and learn from my peers across the company. It also gave me a chance to interact with people working for Appian in different countries and allowed me to understand how leaders in different cultures and areas of the world operate. 

Learning and “Indie Time” in Engineering. 

So where do you get to explore these different career paths while you’re working in your current role? We have dedicated time for learning and development. 

Appian Engineering allows 10% of your time to go towards “Indie Time.” It’s a chance for Engineers to focus on things like experimenting with building something new, learning from other coworkers, or taking an online class. Engineers can also work with people (by joining guilds, chapters or book clubs) on different squads to take on new roles and learn about areas like project management to see if that’s what they want to pursue.

AppianTalks is an interesting bi-weekly program where Monday over lunch someone from Engineering shares a project they’re working on or goes into depth about how they work, or talks about a new technology or skill they have learned recently. I’ve learned a lot from these sessions and it’s a great way to learn more about what is involved in different roles.

The matrix structure allows me to be a coach, not a micromanager. 

The Appian Engineering team is structured in business units like low-code, discovery and automation, and cloud. There are squads in each business unit that focus on the day-to-day activities that support their group’s release work.

It’s a unique structure where my direct reports are not necessarily in my squad. Each squad has a few Software Engineers, as well as Quality Engineers, a Product Manager, and a Squad Coach. With this structure, I am able to provide another perspective without getting into the weeds with them in everyday tasks

It’s not my job to micromanage. My direct reports work autonomously in their squads with help from the product manager and squad coach on processes and how to deliver the best work. My role as a manager is to be a coach and help with their career progression. I’m a leader of people, knowledgeable of our agile processes and our technology. It involves understanding each employee's goals, having recurring 1 on 1's as dedicated time to get support and provide them with constructive and positive feedback, and also motivating them to build great software. I am also on a specific engineering squad where my goal is to make sure I can help the team deliver their features on time. This involves helping them connect their work with a purpose, navigating inter-team dependencies and having crystal clear expectations. 

For example, Tanvee started in her new role as a Software Engineer and started reporting to me as her manager, while she was in the final month of her master's program. Her schooling was the priority so as a manager, I ensured her onboarding was efficient and helped clear the way so she could focus on her classwork as well as share her learnings with the team. In Tanvee’s case, I could tell she’s someone who always goes above and beyond when she commits to something. I reassured her, “No one is expecting you to know everything when you start a new role!” As a manager, it’s important to help take the pressure off people when you can see they need to hear it. 

Grow your Engineering career at Appian.

These are just three of the many paths you can take as an Engineer working at Appian! Many employees have transitioned to new roles, teams, or even departments without a college degree in that area. We hire talented people from many backgrounds and understand career interests change over time.

Learn more about traveling the software underground and the three main career tracks from Suvajit Gupta, VP of Engineering.

Ankit

Written by

Ankit Mehta

Ankit Mehta is an Technical Mentor of Software Development at Appian.