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Appsilon Engineering Manager role and interview

A Day in the Life of an Engineering Manager: Engineering Excellence

Engineering Managers are an essential component of software development teams. If your projects are small or client lists are short, you might get away without one. But if you need to collaborate with product managers, designers, and other stakeholders to meet the needs of the business and end-users, all while managing the day-to-day operations of your internal teams – engineering management is vital

Meet Magdanelna Kunat-Ciunowicz – an Engineering Manager at Appsilon:

Appsilon Engineering Manager Magdalena

Magdalena has spent many years working in the IT industry, first as an engineer and now as an Engineering Manager. She talked to us about her daily work routines, her views on what constitutes a good leader, and some interesting projects she’s currently working on.

What Does Your Day as an Engineering Manager Look Like?

Scheduling and Prioritization

I start the day by looking at my schedule and top priorities. I check my emails and any other messages in communication channels, like Slack, responding to them as I go. I review my priorities to make sure I have time to spend on the most important tasks.

Meetings: The Good, The Bad, The Necessary

Then, I normally have my meetings. And in this role, there are a lot of them! I have one-on-one’s with all my team members, meetings related to project management, and meetings with other managers that help us synchronize and support each other. 

Admin Tasks

Other than my meetings, I also have administrative tasks that come with project management – replying to messages, filling out documents, etc. 

I help to onboard new employees, train them and manage the team for performance. 

I also collaborate with other people in the tech team, managers, and customers.

Primary Responsibilities as an Engineering Manager

However, my primary responsibility is helping my team succeed at their task. I do that by scheduling enough time to be available for them, and also by trying to fix those issues that keep them blocked and unproductive. 

I set and manage team members’ goals and priorities, creating development plans to support their growth. I also provide technical guidance and support to team members through mentoring and coaching, sharing knowledge, consultancy, and advisory. 

I allocate some time to follow new developments in the field, ensuring all team members are aware of them and stay up-to-date with what’s going on.

Finding Time: Professionally and Personally

At the end of the business day, I also review the schedule for the next day and check the agenda and necessary materials beforehand. This helps me ensure that the meetings are productive. 

I try my best to limit meetings on Friday so that I can finish administrative matters and prepare for the next week.

I am an Engineering Manager, but also a mother. So it’s important for me to use my time effectively, to be able to succeed in both my roles.

What Are You Currently Working On?

At the moment, I’m a bench coordinator. I manage tasks for our team members during their time in between commercial projects. This is when they get to work on internal, educational, or not-for-profit projects. 

To create a list of such tasks, I gather ideas from different teams like Marketing, Lab (open source), or other internal initiatives. Then, I create a backlog and set priorities.

What Excites You About Being an Engineering Manager?

One of the best parts of my job is working closely with the team. Together we try to find tasks that they’re interested in and that also bring value to the company. 

We collaborate closely to plan out the upcoming week and make sure everyone has something exciting to do. It takes a lot of coordinating, but it’s also incredibly rewarding. 

I really enjoy seeing our team members succeed and make a positive impact with their work.

What Has Been Your Most Interesting Project as an Engineering Manager?

I recently worked as a Delivery Manager for the Micronesia Reef Monitoring Project. It is a very interesting project that is fully aligned with our Data for Good mission – making a positive impact on the world and mitigating climate change effects.

The Project

This project was developed in close cooperation with the University of Guam. They run a reef monitoring program with the goal of accelerating the creation of Marine Protected Areas in Micronesia. They collect and analyze data to protect coral reefs from overfishing, pollution, and other negative impacts. At the same time, they put measures in place to protect local communities, whose livelihoods fully depend on the reefs. The project also provides valuable information to decision-makers, supporting data-driven and effective climate regulations.

As part of this cooperation, we created an R/Shiny dashboard that will help Micronesian marine scientists monitor the ocean’s ecosystem and present the data in a clear, accessible way. This is a great opportunity for us to learn and expand our network among universities, public organizations, and other biodiversity and climate change experts. 

My Role as a Delivery Manager

As a Delivery Manager, I coordinated the work, solved any impediments, and collaborated with the customer. I really enjoyed this project. 

I had a chance to cooperate with scientists. It was also a great opportunity for me personally. It is a wonderful feeling to be able to contribute to the Data for Good initiative, preserving our planet’s biodiversity and tackling climate change.

How Do You Become an Engineering Manager? What Was Your Career Path?

I was a senior engineer for many years. I dealt with coding, testing, and cooperation with the client. 

During this time, I had the opportunity to help junior team members develop and I found out that working with people, mentoring, and helping them gives me a lot of satisfaction. 

After careful consideration, I decided to pursue a career transition to a managerial role at Appsilon. As a new Engineering Manager, I am enthusiastic about the opportunity to lead and guide my team. I find value in continuous learning and personal growth as I navigate this new role and strive to make a positive impact on my team and the company.

Servant Leadership and the Engineering Manager

I believe in the idea of servant leadership, where the goal of the leader is to serve. A servant leader shares power, and puts the needs of the employees first. Such a leader helps people develop and perform as highly as possible. I want to be that leader.

Parting Knowledge from an Appsilon Engineering Manager

In my career, I’ve spent many years in the IT industry. I tried different positions and have been involved in many aspects of software delivery. I have worked on the frontend and backend, built processes, and was responsible for quality testing. 

One of my more important roles was as a customer advocate. I believe that agile development and understanding the customer’s needs are the key to success. 

Overall, the most important thing for an Engineering Manager is teamwork. My professional experience has given me an in-depth understanding of the project life cycle and helps me understand and collaborate with my team members on a daily basis.

It’s hard to do everything alone. It’s better to go together and with a plan; that’s where the Engineering Manager fits.

A Day in the Life at Appsilon Series:

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