How is the way up the engineering ladder? I have had the nice opportunity to step up one level from system engineer to a team leader and found myself in a very difficult situation. Others have already walked all the way from engineer to CTO. One of these people is Camille Fournier. To help other engineers becoming managers, she has written the book “The Manager’s Path” in the year 2017. In this article, I am reviewing her book.
The book consists of 10 chapters. The first one explains the basic tasks of management and what your contact point with a manager is. The next seven chapters describe the climbing of the ladder from being a mentor for a young professional, being a tech lead, managing people, a team, multiple teams and other managers to being a director level manager. Before finalizing the book with a conclusion, Mrs. Fournier speaks about business culture and how to provoke it in certain directions.
Mrs. Fournier takes the reader by the hand and shares with each chapter the rise from a software engineer towards a powerfull Chief Technology Officer. She shares in each chapter own experiences and tries to give the perspectives of both sides because leading is difficult and being led can be as well. Her explanations are sometimes covered by inserted short essays of people in similar positions that cover the respecting chapter.
The manager’s path is a very useful book. I would have liked it in the time before starting my career in the industry to understand what the role of the different positions in a company are. I mean in a way this is obvious but coming to a big company, one can be quite easily lost in the general understanding of what the differences are. Mrs. Fournier gives a great insight on the different positions and their pros and cons. She clearly states: Being a technical manager is not a goal for everyone and it is not always an improvement! This is an honest statement that more people should be aware about. On these remarks, I really love the book.
Though, I have had some minor issues reading the book. The first issue has been the example of software engineering. I understand that Mrs. Fournier is giving this very specific example but I sometimes were just lucky to understand some of the terminology that she uses. “Sprint”, “Scrub”, “Agile” are all terms that engineers without software background will find hard to determine and I think she misses here the opportunity to give some insights for other engineers. The second issue has been the use of “she”. Mrs. Fournier uses “she” as “he” which is in principle ok, I guess, but I am simple not used to this feministic (?) style of writing. It sometimes brakes the flow when she writes about a person that I associate a male with but this might be a problem of my German language behaviours: In German there is always a male and a female word for a job titile. So actually, this is my bad … kind of.
The book does not simply show how to become manager, it shows the whole way from junior (software) engineer to CTO. Thus, it is a perfect book for understanding career paths and what personal changes of work style come along with the climbing of the ladder. I recommend it even for graduates to get better orientation in the working world.
I give this book 6 out of 6 birds.
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