The world of engineering is constantly changing.
This week, we chat to an experienced engineer about what it takes to succeed as an engineer and how to find great companies to work for.
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Yaniv Bernstein is the founder and COO of his startup, Circular. He has 10 years of work experience at Google, and recently was VP of Engineering and COO at Airtasker. He is also the co-host of his own podcast, the startup podcast.
👇 Episode Takeaways
What to look for in a company
Yaniv shared some great mental models to use when thinking about what is the right company to join.
He split this into both a larger business and an emerging one.
Here are some things to consider
1/ Larger Business: the degree to which the company is committed to tech / tech transformation
Companies these days are engaging in technology transformation, changing their older legacy systems into new systems using new technology.
Yaniv had this to say -
And so you can't really, in my view, kind of incrementally undergo a digital transformation because it it's actually. It's not a technology transformation, right?
It's actually a cultural transformation that is embodied in technology. Right. You need to start doing everything differently.
With this in mind, companies that are going about this digital transformation in the right way, fully committed, are those that you should hold in high regard.
2/ Smaller company: Have they done what it takes to mature
Yaniv said that smaller companies can sometimes not actually mature. They may almost still wish to be a startup when they are no longer.
that's sort of like, you know, a 40 year old saying I'm still like a teenager. It's like, well, you know, are you not just embarrassing yourselves at that point?
You know, you want to understand, like how's, the company kept that spirit of innovation and agility of a startup, but actually lay it in the structures that allows them to effectively execute that scale.
Being an established company doesn't mean that you need to forgo fast change and innovation. It does mean though that you should have established process for things and accept the reality of where the company is.
When thinking about joining one of these types of companies, investigate further if the company isn't a startup but is still awkwardly trying to be.
From an individual contributor to a manager
I spoke to Yaniv about the main differences between being an engineer and a manager.
He said that the main difference is that you go from being additive to multiplicative.
You're managing a team of five people let's say, uh, and you don't get to do a whole lot of adding, right? What you do is instead say, okay, if we have five people and they're each producing 100 impact points, and I, as a manager can make the right moves, which means in terms of, you know, leading coaching, removing obstacles, whatever it is that I can have a multiplier effect across those 500 impact points. Right?
So you say, I make my whole team 20% more impactful and more productive. So we go from 500 impact points to 600. Well, that's how I get my 100 impact points as a manager
It's interesting to think about a definitely a change in skillset from someone that is doing engineering to someone that is trying to unblock others.
Succeeding as a Graduate
Yaniv has mentored and employed many young people in his time. He has the keys to what makes a successful graduate.
He says that in order to have a big impact, understanding the why is really important. Having big impact at your workplace doesn’t come from doing the most but from doing what matters.
Understanding why also ties in with soft skills. As engineers like Yaniv, look to improve your soft skills to provide the most impact.
I can tell you the most valuable engineers are in a vast majority of cases, the ones who have these so-called soft skills around communication, product, understanding commercial understanding, and are able to combine that with strong technical skills to have the maximum impact on the product.
🤝 Connect with Yaniv
📝 Content Timestamps
00:00 Yaniv Bernstein
01:30 Yaniv as a Uni Student
05:16 Doing a Ph D in 2022
06:53 Yaniv after his PhD
10:03 Did working overseas provide you with more breadth?
13:53 What does Google do well?
18:06 What things should a young person look for in a company?
22:13 What does Yaniv try and do for his company's culture
28:18 Differences between producing and managing
34:14 Increasing your impact as a junior engineer
38:37 Who does Yaniv look up to
41:30 Yaniv's Advice for Graduates
44:20 Connect with Yaniv