Shopify's Approach to Managing Innovation and Remote Engineering Teams

July 13, 2021 Derrick Harris

Once an organization reaches a certain size and level of maturity, sustaining digital innovation and retaining software-engineering talent can become difficult goals. Combine that with a global pandemic and new expectations around remote work, and you have a recipe for disaster for organizations that can't adapt.

Although adaptation isn't always easy, it is possible, as Shopify Vice President of Engineering Farhan Thawar explains in this episode of the Cloud & Culture podcast.

You can hear all of his myriad insights—including callbacks to his days as part of Xtreme Labs and then Pivotal Labs (now VMware Tanzu Labs)—by listening to the entire episode, but here is one quote that nicely sums up Thawar's approach to leading engineering teams regardless of what's happening in the world. It has to do with how much involvement engineering executives should have with other parts of the employee experience, regardless of whether those aspects normally fall under the "engineering" umbrella:

“If you're loving the engineering part of your job, but then expense reporting and vacation tracking and all that stuff sucks—all the way down to the snacks and food in the office—it sounds funny, but it really does wear down on people because that's part of their employee experience. It's not like you're getting your vacation tracking from someone else. You're getting it from Shopify. And then you're getting your engineering development environment from Shopify and your laptop from Shopify and your snacks from Shopify. All that stuff is coming from one place in the employee's mind. 

“And so if they aren't all really, really good, then some background process in your mind is saying, ‘Well, how do I build great products when products I'm being delivered [from the employer] are not that great?’ . . . I don't think people should tolerate bad systems on that side.”

This episode features guest hosts Saad Ahmed and Joe Moore  from VMware Tanzu Labs, who also share some insights on remote development teams and the benefits of working with multiple clients in order to identify common patterns.

Learn more

The Good, Bad, and Ugly of Remote Software Development

Guides and Tips for Remote Agile Development

Resources for Remote Software Teams

About the Author

Derrick Harris

Derrick Harris is a product marketing manager at VMware.

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