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Episode 8

From Code to C-Suite: Hunter Powers on Engineering Leadership and AI Dynamics

Hunter Powers discusses his evolution from coder to tech leader and the role of AI in engineering on the Engineering Success Podcast. Get practical insights into effective leadership and the importance of staying ahead in tech.


Hunter Powers
V.P. of Machine Learning - Interos Inc.

Hunter is a seasoned technology leader with over two decades of experience in various engineering roles. Starting programming at just three years old, his career spans from software engineer to CTO and VP of Machine Learning. His leadership focuses on creating healthy team environments and scaling engineering efforts without compromising quality.

What led you to transition from a systems administrator to a leadership role?
What I realized is that I wanted to be where the conversations were happening. Early on, I was just taking tickets from the product team. I wanted to understand the business metrics behind why we were building certain things and what the customer experience was. I got a role as a lead engineer in health tech and worked directly with nurses in a hospital. Seeing their day-to-day experiences connected me to the impact of my work on customers, which was incredibly fulfilling.

How have you secured a place at the decision-making table in your roles?
Often, you're invited because the company recognizes the need for an engineering perspective to navigate complex challenges. If not, the key is to meet business leaders on their terms, understanding their concerns and demonstrating how engineering impacts these areas.

What early experience influenced your career path?
A defining moment was my early programming classes using Apple II computers. We used Logo to create animations, sparking my passion for technology that has guided my career.

With AI and machine learning evolving, what changes do you see for engineers?
The engineering role is rapidly evolving. Traditional coding is being augmented by AI tools like GitHub Copilot, which boosts productivity but changes the required skill set. Engineers must continuously learn and integrate new AI technologies to stay competitive.

What advice do you have for engineers aspiring to leadership roles?
Understand the business side of technology. Engineers aiming for leadership should broaden their skills beyond technical expertise to include strategic thinking and business operations. This broader perspective is essential for making decisions aligned with company goals.

How can engineers ensure their impact within their companies?
Engineers should aim to solve business problems, not just technical ones. Align your work with the company’s strategic goals and articulate your contributions in terms of business outcomes to ensure your efforts are impactful.

Can you recommend any books that have influenced your professional growth?
Absolutely! For those looking to enhance their leadership and operational skills, I recommend "Drive" by Daniel Pink for motivation, "The One Thing" by Gary Keller for task prioritization, and "The Coaching Habit" by Michael Bungay Stanier for practical coaching tools for new managers.

Any final thoughts or message for engineers out there?
The engineering field is now more dynamic and exciting than ever, especially with advancements in AI. Embrace continuous learning and adaptability. The future will favor those who can integrate new technologies into their work and think strategically about business impacts.

- Hunter Powers

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