How to become an entrepreneur engineer and create your own career path


Engineers with entrepreneurial skills can make their own careers. The two talents work together to create a business that can go as high as you want it to be.

Image: Shutterstock / Ashalatha

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With the rise of the DevOps movement, which in my personal experience has involved a mix of programming and systems administration, I have worked with colleagues in new hybrid careers combining essential business and technology skills to present a field of business and technology. ‘diversified opportunities. One of these booming careers is that of the engineer-entrepreneur.

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“To be successful as an entrepreneurial engineer, you need to wear two hats: one with a deep technical focus and one focused on business goals,” said Loren Goodman, CTO and co-founder of InRule Technology. “This allows you to make real-time decisions by leveraging your understanding of diminishing returns on both fronts. The why, what and how are traditionally separate, and small changes to any part can have consequences. exaggerated effects on others. You bring this thinking together, for example, knowing that a feature can be achieved in a fraction of the time if a small part has been removed from the staff and also knowing that that part is not essential to the business need. “

Goodman stressed that entrepreneurial engineers need to be curious about the big picture and not be afraid to tackle tough problems. They must also be success-oriented, with a relentless passion for finding the best solution to difficult problems, no matter how unrealistic things may seem. Finally, she said, a successful entrepreneurial engineer has to be disjointed: “You’re going to need to be comfortable working for a long time without all the resources you need while staying focused on your goals.

As Commit Engineering co-founder Beier Cai says, successful entrepreneurial engineers have creative problem-solving skills, an engineering mindset, and an experienced toolbox based on agile practices, multitasking. and autonomy.

Mark Kinsella, VP of Engineering at Opendoor, stressed that seeing the long-term vision of the company, understanding the complexity of business issues and customer needs and developing solutions to address those issues are the primary goals. of the entrepreneurial engineer. For example, he pointed to Larry Page and Sergey Brin, co-founders of Google.

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“One thing I’ve seen in many high growth startups is that too many projects are being worked on simultaneously with a lack of focus. This can cause engineers to work on individual projects in hopes of increasing throughput. But what’s really happening is that engineers are building projects in silos, not learning from each other and generally producing substandard code, ”Kinsella said.

Kinsella emphasized the need for entrepreneurial engineers to work effectively across teams and disciplines, from product and design teams to operational and executive teams to form consensus and plan to resolve issues that need to be resolved. He observed that truly successful entrepreneurial engineers thrive in environments where they can learn and share their experience with their teams and the engineering community around them. “They have a growth mindset; they are not blocked by failures. They learn from failures and always keep moving forward,” he said.

There is a definite advantage for both the company and the engineer. The entrepreneurial engineers I worked with felt empowered and proud of their work. This in turn benefits the client, Kinsella said. “At Opendoor, we intentionally structure our teams to function like startups. Our teams operate as independently as possible of our defined business metrics. And everyone is responsible for making critical decisions for the business, this which means everyone is held accountable, ”he said.

He cited an example of entrepreneurial engineering in action. “Data is at the heart of what we do, and we need to make sure we get it right. A few years ago, a few of our engineers were working on integrating a new multi-listing service to ingest home sales data. There were many case advantages, and we had a hard time getting it right. Thus, the engineers visited the customers and followed the [real estate agents] who entered the MLS data. They were using Microsoft Access to make changes and additions to a central database, which we then ingested through a web API. This customer-centric mindset allowed engineers to better understand why they were seeing odd outliers, and to think about how to handle these issues resiliently in the future. “

Kinsella and I agreed that one of the main traits we’ve seen in the entrepreneurial engineer is flexibility, a skill especially critical for those involved in high-growth startups where there might be less structure and a faster pace. “Entrepreneurial engineers learn to shift gears to prioritize what is most important, and they also know how to help their teams prioritize where they should be spending their time. Perfecting this chameleon ability will take an engineer far in their career. “, Kinsella mentioned.

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