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On Being A Principal Engineer

I bought and read The Managers Path by the awesome Camille Fournier when it first came out. At the time, I was a senior Database Engineer aspiring to become a principal engineer in my organization. At SendGrid, principal engineer and principal engineer 2 are manager and director level roles respectively without having human direct reports. We had just overhauled the career ladder to provide a full technical ladder, and I now had the opportunity to grow that did not require going into people management. It is not that I disliked managers or that I think it is easy work. To the contrary, I very much appreciate the complexity of engineering management work but I felt that I wanted to strengthen my technical expertise and solidify my career as an individual contributor before considering going fully into people management.