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Episode 5

Aligning Engineering Goals with Business Outcomes

Looking at how engineering leaders can work with business goals, manage teams remotely, and focus on results when building their teams with Sebastiano


Sebastiano Armeli

Director of Engineering - Upwork

Sebastiano carries 15+ years of experience as an Engineering leader with key roles at Upwork, Snapchat, Paypal & more focused on leadership, innovation, and team growth.

You’ve had quite the career journey from Italy to Australia and now in the US, working with major companies like Snapchat, PayPal, and now Upwork. What are your thoughts on engineering leaders getting a seat at the business table?

I think the first step is being curious about the business side, not just engineering. Use any opportunity to ask questions and add comments, especially in forums like QBRs and MBRs where you’re exposed to various business functions. It’s about viewing yourself not just as an engineering leader but as a holistic leader, interested in business metrics and exploring unknowns.

Regarding the integration of business metrics into engineering objectives, should engineering KPIs include elements like customer satisfaction scores or revenue impacts?
Absolutely, connecting engineering activities directly to business outcomes is crucial. Using frameworks that link your team's work to specific business metrics is essential. This ensures that engineering efforts drive substantial business outcomes like customer satisfaction and revenue.

Have you noticed any trends where the approach of integrating business metrics in engineering KPIs is particularly effective?
It’s happening more now, especially as leadership discussions focus on productivity. There’s a shift from a pure growth focus to ensuring that every objective is linked to a broader business goal. This strategic approach helps align engineering efforts more directly with business outcomes.

How do you approach building teams that are more outcome-focused in today’s evolving business landscape?
Organizing teams around business metrics and key initiatives is critical. Ensuring transparency in goals and OKRs helps everyone understand their impact on key metrics. It’s also about balancing business objectives with maintaining high engineering quality, setting specific goals for engineering standards to ensure sustainability and robustness.

In your current remote setup, how do you manage your teams effectively across different time zones and locations?
Remote management requires clear communication rules and an understanding of synchronous versus asynchronous work dynamics. Synchronous meetings are crucial for urgent matters. Overcommunication, especially about blockers, ensures everyone can contribute effectively. We use various tools and surveys to monitor team performance and align efforts across different locations.

- Sebastiano Armeli

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