Annyce Davis, Engineering Director at Meetup
👩🏻💻 Job: Helping tech teams deliver software that makes a difference.
🇺🇸 United States
👶🏻 2 kids (ages 11 and 8)
Resources she enjoys
You are Director of Engineering at Meetup, what do you like most about your job?
I love that I get to define the technical strategy for how we can achieve product goals. I’ve been enamored with technology as far back as I can remember. So getting to use it to make an impact on how a person, team, department does business is a great feeling.
Management vs coding
I really like your Tech Lead to Engineering Manager, Kicking & Screaming article. A humble post in which you talk about your transition to a management role, from not being ready to “learn about managing the same way you would pick up a new software framework”, pragmatically. Is there any challenge you are facing today? Do you miss coding? Would you imagine going back to a Tech Lead position?
Today, I struggle with knowing how to best use my time. I’m the type of person that sees a problem and I immediately want to fix it. Yet, that’s unsustainable and often stands in the way of helping to grow the team. I’m currently performing an analysis of how I use my time so that I can more effectively delegate opportunities to others.
I certainly miss coding. Coding is a lot easier than managing other humans and all of the complexities that come with it.
I fix bugs whenever I can. This lets me scratch the itch without being in the way of feature work. I don’t know if I’ll ever go back to being a Tech Lead. It’s not in my current plan, but I’m certainly not against it.
Career & Parenting
Organising a busy life
You are an Engineering Leader, a public speaker, you create courses and write blog posts. How do you organise to meet your professional schedule and your personal life? What I mean is how do you organise to make both your career and your family a priority? As a new mom something I fear is that one or the other will undoubtedly suffer. Do you still have time for yourself? :)
I have a very supportive partner, without him my career would not be what it is today. He does the majority of the day-to-day tasks related to the kids. This allows me to focus on my career. When the girls were younger I couldn’t do as much outside of work. They needed more of my time and support. Now that they’re getting older I still try not to commit myself to many activities.
In general, I stick with one thing a month. It could be a blog post, a Meetup event, a conference talk, or what have you. This allows me to do meaningful things that move my career forward without sacrificing my family.
I also do small things for myself. I like to work out, read, walk, and take a nice long bath. Those things recharge me and give me what I need to keep going.
Motherhood, Career & Management
Do you think having kids has an impact on how you manage people at work? In a sense that parenting makes you more sensible to some human behaviours.
Definitely! Being a parent has taught me patience. I used to be really impatient with people.
After having kids I learned to take things in stride. Each child is different. What worked for one won’t work for the other. That’s how I approach management as well. I look for the unique strengths of my direct reports and work hard to find ways to bring it out of them.
Has motherhood impacted your career in any way: Have you made choices that you would not have done not being a mom?
I’ve seriously considered being a Developer Advocate at several points throughout my career. I love teaching others and taking something complex and breaking it down so that it’s simple to understand. Pre-pandemic, many advocate roles involved lots of travel. That’s not something that I felt I could do with young children. I’ve had a few opportunities to join some cool companies in that role, but decided to pass.
Quality time with the kids
Back when you were discovering your new role of being a mother (and still today), did/do you approach parenting pragmatically (finding resources in a way you approached your role of manager “signed up for newsletters, subscribed to podcasts, read several books, and joined a management Slack group”)? If so, what helps/ed you?
I do tend to research issues when it comes to my kids.
Being a parent is uncharted territory and there are endless books on the subject. Often with conflicting advice. It’s easy to feel lost. I view being a parent as a special gift. The best way to figure out what my next steps should be is to spend quality time with the girls.
Just talk to them. At this age, they LOVE to talk! It helps me understand them better and to find out where they need my guidance.
Teaching kids: the best, the hardest
You have a passion for teaching. Parenting is a real playground for it. What do you like most teaching your kids?
I love teaching my kids about being loving to all. Respecting the differences of others, but making sure they stand up for themselves and their values.
What was the most difficult thing you had to teach them?
The most difficult thing I’ve had to teach my kids about is safety. They’re young and believe everyone is their friend. Everyone can be trusted. But that’s simply not the world that we live in.
Teaching them about safety and strangers in a way that didn’t terrify them, that was really tough.
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