The Sweet Spot: How I Became an Engineering Manager at Funding Circle

Sep 20, 2023
hackajob Staff
“It’s dynamic, not chaotic. We make decisions quickly and people are empowered here.”

Looking for the perfect blend of order and excitement? Funding Circle might just be the place for you. Described as the sweet spot for engineers, we sat down with Angeline, to find out exactly why this is. She made the transition from Software Engineer to Engineering Manager at Funding Circle, and in this interview, she shares why Funding Circle’s pandemic pivot was one of the best work experiences of her career. Let’s get straight into it!

Meet Angelina!

What drew you to working at Funding Circle and why have you described it as “The Sweet Spot” when it comes to companies to work for?

Let me give you some insight into my career path before I landed at Funding Circle. I spent a good chunk of time in France, improving my skills and building experiences in the banking industry for a big company. I learned a lot but at that point in my career, I was looking for something dynamic but not too chaotic.

Then I landed in London and joined a small startup with just 11 other employees. It was exhilarating, I learned a lot, but after four years, I craved the best of both worlds. I wanted to experience the big corporate world and the chaotic startup world, without all the chaos.

That's when Funding Circle came in. It was the perfect blend of dynamic energy and a startup mentality, without all the chaotic intensity. Even after four years, we make decisions lightning-fast and everyone is encouraged to take charge and own their responsibilities. It's the perfect balance of order and excitement.

After a successful career in Software Engineering, you went down the route of becoming an Engineering Manager. How were you supported in this decision and how did you prepare for the role?

Becoming an Engineering Manager is a journey unique to each person. Personally, I realized early on that I loved the challenge of balancing my tech-side expertise with my people skills. It's not for everyone though - some engineers never even think about it, while others stumble into the role.

If you're interested in becoming a manager, start by talking to your manager. Even if the change is not for tomorrow, you can let them know that you're thinking about becoming a Software Engineering Manager in five or ten years. There are plenty of ways to prepare for the role beforehand, such as onboarding new team members, mentoring juniors, leading a project, or taking on customer initiatives. By getting your feet wet and getting a feel for the role, you confirm that this is the path you want to take.

When it comes to the tech Funding Circle uses, as well as the projects you’ve been able to work on – what has stretched you the most and why?

I lucked out at Funding Circle - I got to wear three different hats! Each role was like a whole new role within the same company. Talk about keeping things fresh! Working with new teams, domains, and products really stretched me and helped me develop new skills. I'm not alone in this either – lots of us at Funding Circle have found ourselves taking on additional responsibilities or even completely changing roles.

As for projects, nothing quite compares to the pandemic pivot we had to make. When the world turned upside down, we had to shift our focus to providing government loans as part of Funding Circle. It was an intense few weeks, but it was also one of my best work experiences. The entire company came together to achieve a common goal, and we delivered!

What are your top tips (technical and non-technical) for those looking to become Engineering Managers?

My tip would be grab every chance you get to level up, be it onboarding, mentoring, leading a project, or joining tech-related initiatives organized by your team or company. You'll grow as a software engineer and thank yourself later. When you climb the ladder, you'll face more meetings and requests. Learn to prioritize and say no when needed - it's a necessary skill.

The manager role can be very different in each company. In my case, I had a fairly hands-off role from the beginning: I stopped actively coding and spent a lot of time working on cross-team initiatives and meetings. It was a change of pace! You have to be able to adapt and learn to prioritize and delegate, to avoid being overwhelmed

How did you handle the transition and if you were to do anything differently, what would it be?

My transition to the role came with a trial period with a set timeline to achieve certain goals, that were set up by myself and my manager. I was able to map out my path to success and get a sense of accomplishment along the way. Sure, I wasn't going to become an experienced engineer manager overnight, but breaking things down into manageable chunks made all the difference.

As a manager, the pace of work and feedback loop can be overwhelming. That's why having a clear set of goals during those early months is crucial. Whether it's setting up meetings or getting to know your team's workflow, every small win counts. Looking back, I think the transition was successful, thanks in part to the support of colleagues who had been there before. If I had to do it all over again, I'd seek advice from someone who's been there, done that.

How does the work you do make a difference to your life and the lives of your customers and what do you enjoy about working there?

My work has a significant impact on my team's day-to-day life. I've had some great managers and some not-so-great ones, and they've all left their mark. So, I take my job seriously. I know that my performance affects not just me, but my whole team. Making a difference in their work-life satisfaction and engagement is something I take pride in. And, let's face it, when they're happy, I'm happy.

Working at Funding Circle gives me a sense of purpose. I'm not just getting paid to do a job, I'm helping small businesses get the financing they need. Especially with everything going on these days, small businesses need all the help they can get. Knowing that I'm making a positive contribution towards this cause motivates me to do my best work.

Ready to join the team at Funding Circle?

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