When I think of the most respected staff+ engineers I’ve worked with, a few specific things stand out as a common factor.
They were both specialists and generalists.
They were experts in a specific layer of the tech stack but also had foundational knowledge in adjacent areas.
Here is what stood out:
1️⃣ They mastered a specific tech or framework
2️⃣ They understood the basics of adjacent fields
3️⃣ They were effective communicators and collaborators
Growing beyond staff level requires you to be a specialist but at the same time good enough generalist so that you can effectively communicate with other teams, build relationships, and make large engineering initiatives successful.
To be a good enough generalist, consider a short stint, a ‘tour of duty’, in an adjacent field. The broader lens you have, the more impactful you become.
In large organizations, striving to be a master of one can limit one’