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With promotions that come with a significant change to the role, we will never know if the changes will be positive or negative before trying.

I experienced this myself when I went from being an Engineering Manager with two teams to Head of Tech with seven Teams. I tried making it work for three years, but in the end had to accept that although my performance was good, I was not able to reconcile the extra stress with my personal life.

I quit, took a break, and applied as a single-team-EM at a different company. And I consider this the best decision I ever took concerning my career.

In this presentation, I will describe my experiences and thought processes to maybe help others in the same situation make the right call.

Specifically, I will discuss:

  • the main differences when going from "your" team to leading multiple teams
  • the initial warning signs that this might not be a great fit for me at this moment
  • why I did not act on them
  • why I did finally act on them
  • why I still see this as a positive experience

The goal is to nudge people who either haven't thought about the "right" level for them or people who think about it only in a "line goes up" kind of way to start thinking about what their "right" place on the engineering management ladder might be.

Key takeaways:

  • Director and above can be lonely
  • question your motivations for getting promoted
  • factor in the complexity of other parts of your life
  • try new roles, but know the signs of things not working
  • allow yourself to realise you were wrong