Get my email lessons on how you can build a tech team you can depend on.

Finding Your Balance with Camille Fournier

Episode 31

​In this episode of Programming Leadership, Marcus and his guest, Camille Fournier discuss some points from her book, The Manager’s Path. They discuss the importance of time management and how to effectively manage employee turnover in a leadership role.



Show Notes

  • A day in the life of a manager varies, but it is a lot of meetings. @3:58​
  • As a manager, you have to be on for all the hours you are in. @5:07
  • It’s important to make time for your “thinking time.” @7:14
  • The big problems are the intersection of technology and people. @10:24
  • You need a strategy to keep your team focused on the important things. @12:07
  • Learn how to balance a team’s time between basic maintenance work and new things. @14:09
  • Different managers track time and work in different ways. @19:06
  • Look for disengagement as a sign that someone is fixing to leave. @20:37
  • When you notice a difference in a team member’s engagement, address their concerns early. @22:41
  • “Money is rarely the first straw, but it’s usually the last straw.” @23:54



Announcer:  Welcome to the Programming Leadership podcast where we help great coders become skilled leaders and build happy high performing software teams.

Marcus:  Welcome to this episode of programming leadership. I am so excited to have bestselling author Camille Fournier on the show today and I think I did exactly what I didn’t want to do. I’m afraid I butchered your name. Welcome to the show anyway.

Camille:  Yeah. Thank you for having me.

Marcus:  You know I hear so many people talk about The Manager’s Path as being just foundational to them and I just can’t help but start with a question just really broadly, what inspired that book? Why was that book your book to write in that moment?

Camille:  So, I think a few things inspired it. One of them was frankly just that I was just coming out of being the CTO at Rent the Runway and that was my trial by fire experience of, not just being a manager, which I had done a little bit before, but growing from a line manager to a manager of managers to an executive, watching people on my team grow into these various senior roles, watching friends around me where… I guess it was just sort at that point in my career where I also have a lot of friends who were at startups or at other companies where they were growing into management roles. And so I had just gone through this really massive growth experience for myself, and I was fascinated by all the things that I had learned and all the things that I was watching the people around me kind of learn.

Camille:  And I also thought it was interesting that there was just nothing out there that really talked about the different stages of management that most people in tech go through. There were books on management and there are books on management and tech to some extent, but they tended to have you know either like their generic management books that were useful, like First, Break All the Rules. Right? So that’s a good classic management book. But this is sort of general management rules. And then there were certain books that were more about like very specific either like executive things around tech or certain people’s very specific opinions and approaches to managing technical teams. But I didn’t really feel like there was anything that walked you through the different levels of management and tech that talked about it both from a people side but also from an engineering side. And I was just really interested in that topic. So, I felt like I had something to say about it. It was kind of a gap in the literature and I had some time on my hands so I decided to write it.

Marcus:  Wonderful. Well now that you have ascended, tell us your current role, because I believe you’re still at the top of the hierarchy. Is that in a different company though?

Camille:  Yeah, so I am the head platform engineering at Two Sigma, which is a quantitative hedge fund here in New York City. And so I am, I am not the CTO. Actually, I report to the CTO, but I am in the engineering leadership team. So my current job is very nice in that I have almost all of the authority and kind of leadership opportunities that I did as a CTO without actually having to report to founders. And so you know it’s kind of a sweet spot. I’m very happy in this kind of role.

Marcus:  Nice. Nice. Well one of the things you and I were discussing before we hit the record button is that we’re both very glad it’s Friday and I think the reason we’re glad it’s Friday, at least for me, is it’s just been a crazy week. And I wonder if some of the listeners don’t know kind of what a day in the life of an executive in technology looks like. And is it just, just meetings? Like what makes it such a relief to get to the weekend? What are the hard parts? Or what’s a day in the life look like?

Camille:  You know, it definitely depends on the day. We’re in a promotion season right now in my workplace and we do promotion, committee based promotion, so that means that the promotion process involves writing up a bunch of material about whoever’s getting promoted. And so this week has been particularly exhausting for me, because I’ve been writing and reviewing various promotion packets for people in my reporting tree. You know, the day in the life varies, but it is a lot of meetings.

Camille:  And I think the thing that makes it particularly exhausting is that I really have to be on in my meetings, that my time is too valuable for me to have a lot of meetings where I’m kind of not paying attention and I’m zoning out, I’m playing on my phone, I’m not talking and participating. I think that’s true for everyone, but it’s especially true for busy executives where what you do all day is talk to people and people are only in the office for so many hours. So you really have to get it all done in kind of a short window and you have to be mentally on and paying attention and engaging and you know making the most of those few minutes you have with people. So in my mind that’s kind of what a lot of what makes my job tiring, even though it’s not that it’s like excessively long hours all the time. It’s really just that you’re on for all of the hours that you’re in.

Marcus:  Yeah. I wonder, how would you set aside thinking time?

Camille:  You know, these days I’m not doing the best job of it, partly because I had a baby 10 months ago and I’m actually still working around her schedule a little bit. This is my second child.

Marcus:  Congratulations.

Camille:  Thank you. So you know normally when I’m kind of more normally working and normally in the office, I do try to block off one afternoon a week or at least a couple of hour long chunks to do my thinking time. It’s hard though. You know I go through phases where I do a better and worse job of that.

Marcus:  Yeah, it it is hard. I’ve gotten to the end of a week and I just was looking at my calendar and I start to scroll back through the weeks and I think, no wonder I’m tired. This has not been just one week. It’s week after week of 30 or 40 hours. I mean maybe it’s just my calendar, but it’s not hard to see I’ve double booked myself. I’ve had to make choices. I’ve slipped in and out of meetings. And I wonder then like why haven’t I gotten the thinking done? Well, it’s really, for me at least, it’s kind of a time scarcity.

Camille:  Yeah, absolutely. And you get in this very reactive mode as well. At least I find, right, where it’s… the nice thing sometimes about being a manager is that you just kind of come into work and react and that’s like your whole job is reacting and knowing how to react, the appropriate level of reaction. Those are all things you have to learn over time, but in some sense you’re just sort of coaching, asking good questions, making decisions and you don’t have to think too hard. And so then it almost becomes scary when you have to sit down and just quietly think and write something or you know make a plan of some sort because it’s like, oh my God, I don’t know if I remember how to do this. You expect me to just without somebody else guiding the conversation, essentially like come up with some thing? So, you sort of forget how to think sometimes if you don’t make yourself do it regularly.

Marcus:  Yeah, I can remember that when I became a team lead and I was just so busy and then a manager, sometimes I would have that moment where I was like, oh, I’ve set aside an hour and I would get to there, to my thinking time and I wouldn’t know how to do it. That really resonates. And I would in fact get up and look for someone with a problem because I thought well, someone must have some problem and I can be productive. It at least feels very productive to be reacting. But it is a discipline and it’s a, it’s a hard one. I guess at the end of the day, for me, sometimes it doesn’t feel like getting anything done, where reacting, at least I can say, “Well, that person’s better off because I did something for them.”

Camille:  Yeah, exactly. It’s, I mean, sometimes you don’t get anything done, right. Sometimes you’re just like laying the mental groundwork to get something done in a month or two months or six months. Yeah. You know when you’re an engineer and you become a manager, you miss the dopamine hits of like writing tests and writing code and seeing your code run. And I guess I’m at the point as a manager where it’s like now I get the dopamine hits of like talking to people and like giving advice or learning more information and I’ve forgotten how to get the dopamine hits of like figuring out problems independently.

Marcus:  Yeah, now that’s a great point. Is there anything you miss about being at another part of the the career ladder?

Camille:  I sometimes miss having the time to go really deep on a technical problem. The level of the career ladder that I’m at, I get to see a lot of technical problems and understand them, but only in a very shallow way. And I just, you know I love solving big, hairy interesting, complex technical problems. That’s why I’m in this business in the first place I guess. And I do miss having the time to focus on just like talking to someone, pairing with someone, looking at code, reading design, thinking about the detailed aspects of how do you actually solve this particular hairy technical problem and come up with like a great solution.

Marcus:  Mmhm.

Camille:  And I just, I don’t get to do that anymore and I do miss that. And you know whether that’s as a senior individual contributor or even as a manager of a small team, right? You can do that at those levels, but you just can’t do it at the level that I sit at now, unfortunately.

Marcus:  Yeah, I miss it too. I actually think I’ve been away from it so long, I don’t think I’d be very good at it. I’d have to relearn a lot and then I kind of get these insecurity pings like oh, maybe… Maybe I can’t do that anymore, maybe I’m not cut out for that. But that’s probably just me.

Camille:  On the one hand, I wonder if I would be able to do it. And then on the other hand, I think that the fact that I was ever able to do it was kind of a rare skill. And so I’m like well, if I was able to do it once and there’s not that many people who are able to do it at all, then maybe I’d be able to figure out how to do it again.

Marcus:  Yeah, it’s like riding a bike maybe, right? They say you never forget. So from your perspective in the organization, what are the big hairy, exciting problems that you see?

Camille:  I mean the big hairy, exciting problems I see are really kind of the intersection of technology and people. So, you know I run a platform engineering organization now, which means that I’m thinking just a lot about distributed compute and storage and the systems that other engineers use is kind of the software that my team is providing. But you know the challenge of that area is not just making it work, and the engineers can all do that very well. It’s how do you change it and evolve it and get people to use it and get people to change what they’ve been doing and kind of move the organization forward, balancing, keeping the old stuff running that all has to be kept running, with enabling new things and not wasting everyone’s time and making them rewrite everything all the time. So those are the kinds of like high level problems that my team has to tackle.

Camille:  And so what I have to think about is, all right, how am I getting them to focus on the highest level strategic impact initiatives, whatever the details of how they choose to address those initiatives might end up being so that we’re doing the right thing by the people who are using our software while also making strategic forward progress as a technology organization. That’s one of the things that I spent a lot of time thinking about. So it’s really like what are the most important problems to be solving from kind of a technical perspective? And then how do I make sure everybody’s focused on actually solving them?

Marcus:  Wow. Let’s dive into that for a minute. Have you found some patterns that you’ve been successful with in getting people to focus, on helping them to focus on those most important areas?

Camille:  Yes. So, I certainly think that one of the things that I have to do as a leader, that I have to be really good at doing as a leader is making sure everybody knows what the important things are and saying it over and over and over, asking them the questions about the things that I think are the most important things, paying attention at a detailed enough level to know what they’re doing so that I can actually detect when they’re veering off of the more important things. But you know you have to be reasonable, right? There’s always like a bunch of things that have to be done and everyone can’t always be working on only the most important thing all the time, because in fact, we’ve got to keep the ship running in all kinds of ways.

Camille:  But I do think that my job really is to just make it as crystal clear to everyone as possible what is really important. The questions that I ask, both of the members of my direct [inaudible 00:13:02] my staff, but also the things I talk about in all hands, the things that I press on in meetings, the planning process and reviews, all of that I think is just an opportunity for me to reiterate where I think the focus needs to be and where I think we need to be going and then I just have to take advantage of literally every single opportunity I have to remind people of what our focus is. That’s kind of my technique for it.

Marcus:  Wow. Yeah. You know you remind me of kind of this interdependent pair between keeping the ship running or whatever the metaphor is, right? Keep the platform going and keep extending it, pushing it forward, adding new feet… like, and of course, we all know the business wants the more new shiny stuff and the engineers just need to keep stuff running and they want to, they have certain goals, but I know that that’s not a binary kind of decision. We can’t just do one or the other. Do you have some principles you use to balance those as you help people on the engineering group think through what is most important to do today?

Camille:  Yeah, so I have some a certain level of just baseline… look, I always expect that my engineering teams are spending a certain percentage of their time on keep the lights on work, tech debt, keeping the systems that we have going running. And I won’t ever pressure them to shortchange themselves on a reserved space of time there. Now one of the things we actually do in our planning process is I ask the managers of the teams to estimate how much total time they expect in the year to be spent on true like keep the lights on, small bug fixes and you know manual work and whatever.

Camille:  And when that looks like it is kind of overwhelming the time that the team has to spend on anything, then we start having the hard conversations about okay, like what can we invest in to reduce this overall KTLO so you’re not spending all of your time kind of keeping the systems that you have running, because frankly that’s not fun for engineers any more than it is delivering value to the customers.

Marcus:  Yeah.

Camille:  Like there are some engineers who like to kind of just noodle on the existing system, but a lot of people get kind of bored with it. They want to be doing the new shiny, the new thing. So part of my job is both preserving their time to keep things at a high enough quality that doesn’t drag them down in tech debt, but also pressuring them when they’re spending a lot of time on KTLO or the systems we could be getting rid of or deprecating or automation we can be putting in place or something to overall reduce the demand for this over time.

Marcus:  Is that a pretty common practice that you’ve seen where we estimate how long is it going to take us this year to keep the lights on?

Camille:  No. This is a, this is something that got introduced to me actually when I took this job. One of my direct reports had been at Amazon for awhile, and so he was in the habit of doing Amazon style things. And you know anyone who comes from any big company will always have the at big company we, and so his was the Amazon we.

Marcus:  Right.

Camille:  So he talked a lot about six pagers for planning, but actually it was… I was really impressed by the process of doing that, because it is a little bit of upfront work for my teams to do, but they forced them to kind of rationalize, all right, I don’t hold anybody accountable to the number of like exactly what they promised or if they promised you would only do half a year of KTLO on this team, but you actually did 0.75 year or whatever, I’m not paying attention at that level.

Camille:  But it forces them to really think about what are the tasks that we do and kind of how long roughly do we think that they actually take every week. When I look over the year how do I think my team’s time is going to be spent? The act of doing that I think is valuable, even if it’s not precise. Even if the numbers you get out aren’t precise, it helps you get a sense of things and a sense of the balance of where your team’s time is going.

Marcus:  Yeah. I feel like that’s the kind of thing where planning is really valuable even if the plan doesn’t quite come in perfectly.

Camille:  Exactly.

Marcus:  I want to take just a moment and thank my sponsor, GitPrime. GitPrime is sponsor the show, not just because they’re fantastic people, but because they really believe that leadership in engineering is about people. It’s about conversations. And GitPrime is a platform that allows you to have better conversations with people.

Marcus:  Yes, it has lots of other benefits. You can probably plan better. You can see metrics about individual performance, but let’s just take that one idea about individual performance. Whenever I talk with a GitPrime user, and by the way, lots of my clients are GitPrime users, they always tell me how surprised they were at what was really happening on the team. See it’s really easy for you as a manager to observe generally how people are working. You can look at PRs, you can look at who’s assigned what tickets, you as the CLM, the software engineering manager, you get a notion for what people are doing. But there’s always these beautiful surprises about who is really performing well and who’s secretly struggling, about who’s the person that’s saving everybody’s bacon through fixing a lot of stuff behind the scenes and who is absolutely doing all the PRs.

Marcus:  This kind of data lets you move from looking at people as just, well, they’re all engineers and they’re all kind of doing engineering work, to seeing exactly where each one of them is strong and has opportunities to grow. And that’s why I love this tool so much. I believe that new and surprising conversations come out of data that when you can sit down with somebody and start to understand and intuit why things are happening, you’re going to create even better quality of exchanges. And by the way, you know here on this show we talk about the fact that leadership is what keeps people connected to their work and prevents turnover and keeps them motivated. It’s about the relationship. I like to say that GitPrime not only lets you build better software, it lets you build a better relationship with your team members. Start a free trial today at

Marcus:  You mentioned the idea of where does your team’s time go. Does your team keep track of their time?

Camille:  Different teams track things in different ways. So I’m very reluctant to impose any kinds of heavyweight process on any of my teams. I really, I’m a strong believer in that teams should have processes, but they should decide what the processes that work for them look like. So you know my teams keep track of their time in so far as we do use like Jira and you know people generally file tickets for various kinds of work, more and less accurately depending on the team. Some managers ask their team kind of weekly, give me a breakdown of how you spent your time. You know you were on support. How much of the time on support was actually spent dealing with support issues versus how much time did you spend to do in project work? So, different managers do that in different ways. And I kind of rely on the managers. I trust them to figure out what ways is going to work right for their teams. There’s always some sense of tracking, whether it’s just in Jira tickets, in comments on code reviews, in chat, whatever. Right? Different managers do it different ways.

Marcus:  Okay. Well let’s turn the conversation to a hot topic these days, and that is how do we keep people from leaving given that recruiters are constantly knocking at the door. Do you have a sense about how do we even start to sense if someone’s going to leave?

Camille:  Yeah. So this is one of those things that as you manage over time, usually you start to build up a little bit of a spider sense for. So how do I tell when someone’s going to leave? I mean, first of all, like they tend to just engage less or in different ways at work.

Marcus:  Mm.

Camille:  So, I think what you often see is you have those people that come in, maybe they even like they start a new job and they’re really excited about it and they’re super engaged and they’re really trying.

Camille:  And I think a lot of turnover happens kind of early at someone’s point in a company, because they come in. They’re very excited. They’re in their honeymoon period where they’re very optimistic about everything. And then time goes on and the cracks start to show in whatever it is, right? Either you know it’s like oh, this big hot shot company really doesn’t know what they’re doing about X, Y or Z, or this boss that seems so nice in the interviews is actually kind of a blowhard and like never lets me get a word in edge wise or whatever. Or this technology is actually just not as exciting as I thought it would be. And that sort of enthusiasm turns a little bit quieter, perhaps turns a little bit more negative, turns a little bit more sour. Their productivity, sometimes it goes down. You sometimes see that impact. They stopped showing up to team lunch. They stop engaging as much.

Camille:  And usually any kind of major indication of like a difference in engagement is worthwhile for a manager to bring up because sometimes that difference in engagement is like my spouse is sick and they’ve been sick for two weeks and I’m just run down or something even more serious, right? My parent is sick and I’m worried about them and I kind of need to… I’ve been flying out there every weekend or spending every weekend out there and it’s you know kind of stressing me out. My kid’s having problems in school, whatever. Right?

Camille:  And it’s good I think for a good manager to leave space for people if they’re comfortable to share information like that and start to ask the question, because sometimes it is just a personal life event that’s dragging them down and then you can be supportive of them, which is important if you want to keep them happy and engaged. And sometimes it’s just that they really aren’t happy with their work with their team. They feel like they’re not able to make progress. They’re disappointed that they don’t know how they’re going to get promoted. And when you start to notice that, if you can ask and address their concerns early, when you start to notice that disengagement, you’re much more likely to keep them.

Camille:  So I think that honestly, most people don’t hide it all that much when they’re unhappy. It’s so rarely a complete bolt out of the blue. And when it is a complete bolt out of the blue, you can almost always feel okay about it, because like the bolt out of the blue is like my spouse is moving across the country and like we just got to go. And it’s like you know what, that sucks but I didn’t do anything wrong, or somebody just offered me $1 million more than you’re paying me here and like at some point you’re just like well,

Marcus:  Right.

Camille:  All right you gusted off for your dream job or some really wild out of the blue occurrence happened and somebody leaves for that reason, that’s no problem.

Camille:  But it’s so often it’s not that. So often there are grievances that are just building up over time. It can be a lack of career progress. They’ve been stuck doing the same thing. They’ve told you they’re unhappy. They’re having problems with their team members. There’s a lack of team cohesion and it’s causing them to disengage and feel demoralized and ultimately that’s the kind of thing that will cause them to go look around and ultimately find a new job.

Camille:  One of my colleagues actually the other day said to me like , “You know money is rarely the first straw, but it’s usually the last straw.” People actually don’t that often leave their job purely for money. There are a very small number that do, but very rarely people just like jump ship for money purposes. But if they’re already a little unhappy and somebody sort of dangles you know a significant pay raise in front of them, which happens a lot in tech, it can often be kind of the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

Marcus:  Yeah. I think Mike Alop refers to that as like having your shields down, right? If your people are walking around with their shields down, they’re going to be vulnerable to when the recruiter sends them the LinkedIn message and says, “Hey, look you know look what we can offer you.” But they wouldn’t have their shields down unless there were a reason. It’s not arbitrary. So you’re telling us that when people see signs, it’s… You didn’t quite say this, but my guess is as a manager, because we’re busy, it’s easy to ignore, but that’s probably the wrong move.

Camille:  Yeah. Yeah. I mean, look, employee retention, hiring retention is one of the most important things you have to do as a manager, because it’s you know it’s hard to hire people. It’s hard to train them. They’re expensive to hire and you want to keep your people engaged, right. That’s just a such an important part of your job and you can’t view their engagement as a burden on you. Like they’re just… You don’t just wind them up and put them in a direction and you know leave them in a corner, right, and hope for the best and hope they’ll just keep turning out code or whatever and not bother you, never ask for a raise, never ask for a promotion, never ask for a new project. Like it just doesn’t happen. Again, that’s why you do regular one-on-ones, right? That’s why you spend time getting to know the people on your team as people so that you can detect when there are these changes in engagement and you can hear early on when they have early warning signs about them being unhappy and do your best to meet whatever it is that they need.

Marcus:  You know I’ve been in organizations where when someone leaves, when an individual contributor leaves, there can be some pretty pointed conversations between upper management and that person’s manager. What’s an a appropriate kind of conversation to have with the manager of someone who’s left?

Camille:  So, it depends on what comes out in the exit interview.

Marcus:  I know. That’s true.

Camille:  But forcing a round peg into a square hole, forcing someone that just really is obsessed with quality and doing things perfectly to be in a move fast and break things environment, where they just can’t do it, they can’t bring themselves to do it and they’re miserable is bad for everyone. It’s just bad for the team. And it doesn’t make any sense. But you may have other parts of your stack, other projects in your company where they need that really exact and quality focused person. Let that person go where they are going to be great.

Camille:  So I do think that there is value in pointed conversations from senior management when someone leaves, because first of all, if it’s a total surprise, that’s always a sign of like you know you need to be coaching that manager on how to not have total surprise.

Marcus:  Right.

Camille:  The other time is of course, when you have a lot of people leave. When you start to see a pattern of people leaving a team, then often the manager is in fact the root of the problem on the team. And they need to be, perhaps they are the one who needs to leave or you know they need coaching, right?

Marcus:  Perhaps.

Camille:  So, you know I do think senior management often takes a great interest in people leaving, especially unexpectedly, because we know that sometimes that is a sign that actually there is a manager that’s not telling us something about the state of their team.

Marcus:  Yeah. You know I feel like managers talk about turnover a lot behind closed doors and I’m remembering back, it seems like a topic where we would talk about who might leave and who just left and what if they leave. We’re talking a lot about turnover, but we’re not doing it, I don’t think, with the employees either individually, like you say something has changed. Can we talk about what I see? But I don’t think I’ve ever seen a manager sort of openly talk about the fact that with their team, none of you will probably be here in 25 years. That is a reality and it’s not bad, maybe. It’s just like the circle of life. But we seem to be afraid to talk about it for fear that we’ll cause it.

Camille:  Yeah, I think that’s right. I think there is a fear that you’re going to spook people if you remind them of that we all… everyone dies someday. You know every good thing comes to an end. And I do think there’s a little fear of, yeah, of spooking people.

Marcus:  Yeah. Almost like, it’s funny you said spook and I thought like you might somehow, and what a silly thing to imagine, that you, that somebody might say, “Oh wait, I could leave if I wanted?” Right. Of course they know that. But it’s almost like as managers, we have the idea that well, if you don’t bring it up, if you don’t remind them-

Camille:  Yeah.

Marcus:  That they probably won’t retire from here, maybe they’ll forget and they’ll pretend. But then we kind of all get into a pretending mode and I don’t know, what do you think?

Camille:  Well, you know what I will say is one thing that I think the company I work for now actually has done a good job of is encouraging internal mobility. And I think that actually really helps keep employees at the company even though they do move teams. So you know you still see people moving teams every couple of years, two to three years, which is totally fine, but it keeps them much longer in the company as a whole, which is still very, very valuable to the company.

Camille:  And I think that helps people feel like they have options. They have places to go. They don’t just have to quit the entire company. And I think that’s a nice balanced way of talking about the fact that we won’t all be here in 25 years. It’s like yeah, probably not, but like you can be here in 15 years and have worked in five different teams and that’s great actually. And you’ll learn a lot in the process as we are growing and changing as a company as a whole.

Marcus:  What a wonderful option. Do people ever, at your company at least or in your experience, do they ever leave and come back?

Camille:  They do, both at this company, and actually I think every company I’ve ever worked for, I’ve seen that happen. And it’s always a great sign frankly. I mean, I really do feel like when you see people leave a company and come back, you know that they left maybe just because they found the kind of opportunity that they couldn’t have found at the company where you were at the time, but that they still had… You know they felt good about the company and the culture and they had fond memories and they didn’t leave with resentment and that’s always a great sign I think.

Marcus:  Yeah, I agree. I’ve heard some companies that actually will reach out to people three months or six months or a year after they have left, just to kind of see was the grass greener over there? Have you seen that codified or put into any sort of regular practice?

Camille:  I haven’t. I don’t think we have any you know particular regular practices of doing it here. I know that Google basically will tell you… like they’ll, you don’t even have to re-interview. If you come back within a certain period of time, they’ll just take you back basically. Which is just sort of great for Google, you know a brilliant move. It always makes hiring former Googlers a little bit scary,

Marcus:  Oh yeah.

Camille:  Because it’s like you know they kind of know like if they don’t like it in a year, they can just go back to the warm bosom of Google and you know be back where they started.

Marcus:  That is genius. Well, that seems genius because it keeps a connection.

Camille:  Yeah.

Marcus:  I know that when I left my last job, it felt like I was betraying the mafia. Like, it felt like I was leaving the family and you never go against the family and I thought oh, I’ll never be able to come back here. Like, of course, it actually wasn’t true. They hired me back as a contractor and this and that, but I got that feeling that it was incredibly permanent.

Camille:  Yeah.

Marcus:  Mm. What a brilliant idea that hopefully if you’re a listener, this is something you should consider. And of course, if you’re hiring Googlers, be careful it sounds like.

Camille:  Sorry. Sorry to say.

Marcus:  Well no, that’s true. Well, I’d like to make one more topic shift. You know you mentioned at the beginning that you wrote your wonderful book because you had an interest and you saw a gap in the market. People weren’t writing about this intersection of people in technology and career from the perspective that you had. Is there another topic that’s brewing in your head as a place where you see a gap and maybe we’ll see something from you in the future on that?

Camille:  There is. You know it’s all very nascent. I’m very interested in sort of technical strategy and architecture and socio-technical systems, the way we choose to build software and what is effective and what isn’t. And I don’t know that I have a book in my head about it, but I am very interested in these questions of like how do you ask the right questions of your technology and your systems and what you’re building and actually you know build, kind of think about how to build the right thing from the perspective of building software for other engineers within the context of a company.

Camille:  So not just general business strategy, but actually how do you make these decisions about like, should I have a monorepo, for example. Sort of an evergreen question, right? Google absolutely says yes and you know some people absolutely say no and there’s every answer in between.

Marcus:  Right.

Camille:  And I just think it’s super fascinating because when it really boils down to it, people will find a way to build software wherever they go. And some ways are a little bit better and some ways are a little bit worse. But a lot of the things that we decide to do, we just decide to do them because somebody at some point said they were a good idea and we kind of do them either unthinkingly or because that’s the way it was set up when we came to the company. And you know how do we make good decisions about these practices and processes and systems that we use to support our teams?

Camille:  I don’t know if I have a book in that and that sounds like a very hard book to write to be quite honest. So I don’t know if I’ll ever get there, but I am really, really interested in… I’m always just super fascinated in the way that it actually feels to work in these different kinds of technical environments.

Marcus:  Fascinating. I feel like that I just can’t wait to… I hope you write or speak or tweet about something like this, because it sounds very interesting. Yeah. Thank you so much for being on the show. Where can people find you online and possibly connect with you?

Camille:  I’m on Twitter @Skamille S-K-A-M-I-L-L-E. It’s a very old nickname from high school and I was really into ska music. That’s probably the easiest you know single place to find me. I have a blog on that I very rarely update. And I also have a medium that mirrors all of that content. But yes, I think following me on Twitter is probably the easiest way. And you’re always welcome to tweet at me if you want to get in touch or you know leave comments on my blog.

Marcus:  Wonderful. Okay. Here’s the last question. Favorite ska band?

Camille:  Oh, that’s a hard one. I mean, I guess it’s sort of like ska punk. I was a really big Operation Ivy fan. I recently went to see The Mighty Mighty Bosstones in a concert!

Marcus:  Oh, wow.

Camille:  That was fun. That was a fun like back to my youth concert. So, you know I don’t know. I have to say I don’t listen to ska very much anymore, but it definitely, definitely brings me back.

Marcus:  Special place in your heart. Thank you so much for being on the show with us today.

Camille:  All right, thank you.

Announcer:  Thank you for listening to Programming Leadership. You can keep up with the latest on the podcast at and on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, or wherever fine podcasts are distributed. Thanks to you for listening and we’ll see you next time.

Announcer:  This has been a HumblePod Production. Stay humble.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This