The Staff Engineer's Path: A Guide for Individual Contributors Navigating Growth and Change

  • 14h 15m 51s
  • Tanya Reilly
  • Gildan Media
  • 2023

For years, companies have rewarded their most effective engineers with management positions. But treating management as the default path for an engineer with leadership ability doesn't serve the industry well—or the engineer. The staff engineer's path allows engineers to contribute at a high level as role models, driving big projects, determining technical strategy, and raising everyone's skills.

This in-depth book shows you how to understand your role, manage your time, master strategic thinking, and set the standard for technical work. You'll learn about how to be a leader without direct authority, how to plan ahead to make the right technical decisions, and how to make everyone around you better, while still growing as an expert in your domain.

By exploring the three pillars of a staff engineer's job, Tanya Reilly, a veteran of the staff engineer track, shows you how to:

  • Take a broad, strategic view when thinking about your work
  • Dive into practical tactics for making projects succeed
  • Determine what "good engineering" means in your organization

About the Author

Tanya Reilly has over twenty years of experience in software engineering, most recently working on architecture and technical strategy as a Senior Principal Engineer at Squarespace. Previously she was a Staff Engineer at Google, responsible for some of the largest distributed systems on the planet. Tanya writes about technical leadership and software reliability at She's an organizer and host of the LeadDev StaffPlus conference and a frequent conference speaker and keynote. Originally from Ireland, she now lives in Brooklyn with her spouse, kid, and espresso machine.

In this Audiobook

  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1 - What Would You Say You Do Here?
  • Chapter 2 - Three Maps
  • Chapter 3 - Creating the Big Picture
  • Chapter 4 - Finite Time
  • Chapter 5 - Leading Big Projects
  • Chapter 6 - Why Have We Stopped?
  • Chapter 7 - You’re a Role Model Now (Sorry)
  • Chapter 8 - Good Influence at Scale
  • Chapter 9 - What’s Next?