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Uma Chingunde on starting a VPE role in a pandemic

Lead Time Chats: Season 1, Episode 8 Takeaways

April 14, 2021

In Episode 8 of Lead Time Chats, Uma Chingunde (VP of Engineering at Render) and Jean Hsu (VP of Engineering at Range) chat candidly about onboarding into their first-time VP of Engineering roles — during the pandemic, with kids distance learning at home!

Jean and Uma discuss:

  • Directly reporting to the CEO as a VP of Engineering and how the role compares to other engineering leadership roles.
  • Figuring out what we needed to know to ramp up and what to let go of
  • The wide range of activities a VP of Engineering role can encompass, and doing many things we've never done before.
  • The challenges of figuring out childcare logistics as we step into exec roles

Takeaways from Uma

Interviewing remotely can have unexpected challenges

“The challenge starts even before joining, because I actually did my entire interview remotely and I realized how much in the interview process, we typically rely on body language to develop a sense of comfort and trust with people. And that just was not available. So in that case, I think I just relied on a lot more conversations than I maybe would have in the interview process.”

Remote onboarding can lack the common rituals of in-person office onboarding

“The few days leading up to my first day at work, how much, at least for me, I unconsciously rely on the rituals of  picking my outfit for the first day and going into a new office and then picking up my new laptop. Because this was like back in December so shipping and stuff was still not going that well.  My laptop was delayed, so I was actually just using my personal laptop the first few days. I was like oh, so I just wake up and join the Zoom at 9am? This feels like a weird way to start a new job.”

Joining a smaller company means being able to grasp more of the whole

“It's the first time I'm coming in where the total bounds of everything I can learn ... I can actually put my arms around it. Versus all of my previous roles... like the smallest company I've ever been in was still 300 employees and a hundred engineers, and had been around for six or seven years. So this is the earliest I've ever come. It's exciting because I get to see  the early numbers in the issue tracker.”

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About Lead Time Chats

Listen in on unscripted conversations between Jean Hsu, VP of Engineering at Range and engineering leadership coach, and engineering leaders and other influential folks in tech.

Lead Time Chats is brought to you by Range. Range helps hybrid teams check-in asynchronously about what matters most. Know what's happening through status updates that pull from tools like Github and JIRA without scheduling yet another meeting.

Checking-in with Range creates more focus time for heads-down work, all while feeling a deeper sense of connection and belonging with your team. To learn more about Range, you can check it out here.

S1 E8: Uma Chingunde on starting a VPE role in a pandemic
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