Growing at Cuvva: lessons from a first-time engineering manager

Our engineering manager Filipe Mendes talks us through his first year as a manager at Cuvva.
By Team member, 21/02/2023
2 minutes read

January 2023 marked my first full year as an engineering manager both at Cuvva and as a professional, and it couldn't have been more rewarding. I started 2022 as a new manager on a newly formed team, with the chance to apply everything I have learned. Looking back, I've made several mistakes but succeeded in many situations.

As you can see from our job listings (here’s a recent one that’s now closed), Cuvva offers a personal development allowance for employees to learn and grow their skills. However, working at Cuvva is a perk in itself if you are looking for professional growth. Let me explain.

In 2021, my friend Karoly told me Cuvva was looking for an Android engineer and that it would be great if I could join the team. I was at a stage in my career where I had seen how much of what happens at companies is due to miscommunication, hard feelings and mismatched expectations. So, I wanted to focus on teams, communication, and collaboration and go beyond new functionalities and feature improvements. As Patrick Lencioni says states in his book The five dysfunctions of a team:

"Not finance. Not strategy. Not technology. It is teamwork that remains the ultimate competitive advantage, both because it is so powerful and so rare." (p.vii)

However, I didn't have management experience at that point, so I decided to apply as an Android engineer and keep reading books about management, hoping for the opportunity in the future. In a twist of fate, soon after I joined, the Android team lost its long-time team leader, which meant that a lot of the ongoing tasks needed to be done by someone else. That was the perfect opportunity to showcase that I could do some of the tasks that most engineers tend to avoid, such as documentation, introducing processes, and hiring. And the more I did it, the more I realised that this was the path I wanted to pursue.

Alongside it, I was watching a YouTube channel about how to start a startup. Cuvva was, and still is, a fantastic place to witness how a company evolves and transforms itself. You see, teams at Cuvva communicate through open slack channels across all the departments. I was amazed to see how much certain assets cost, the product ideas from other departments, the contract discussions for newly adopted tools, and so much more. This information is invaluable if you want to learn how a company works and understand how engineering becomes a critical business partner in the context of an entire organisation.

Luckily the following January, the opportunity to become an engineering manager of a small team presented itself. I grabbed it with both hands and immediately started fighting for my space within the team and working on getting the trust of my new peers. Throughout 2022, I've had to build trust with more established engineers, attempt to solve complex team dynamics and deliver a project that involved almost half the engineering team. But none of this would be possible if my new peers treated me like the inexperienced manager I was or didn't trust me.

To support my growth, I kept purchasing books to help me understand how to better deal with these new kinds of challenges. Books like Crucial Conversations, The Culture Map, and The Mythical Man-Month challenged my assumptions and provided me with the tools to observe problems from different angles.

2023 will undoubtedly be different, and as my team grows, I will experience a lot more dynamic and complex situations. But so will the number of impactful opportunities increase.

So if you are looking for impact and, like me, you like to have the chance to apply what you are learning, join us, grow with us, and help us in our mission to build the future of mobility.

Team member