Engineering Leadership SIG: What Can We Learn from Career Retrospectives of Successful SV Leaders



  • SVForum EL SIG - Thursday, January 17th Event: 

    Random Chance, Planning, both? What Can We Learn from Career Retrospectives of Successful Silicon Valley Engineering Leaders

    Panel Abstract:
    We often hear about the importance of “Career Management” or “Thinking about Where You’re Going.” But how do you do that? In engineering, agile methodologies, with their focus on retrospectives and empirical process improvement, have paved the way for incremental process changes (the small tweaks that make all the difference). The panel claims that this is the way to do it for career management as well.  To update Socrates, the unexamined career is not worth having.  But … if you’re not Socrates, it can be hard. How do you do a personal retrospective? What questions do you ask yourself? What questions do you ask other people? How much thinking is really involved, how do you make decisions, and when do you know that you’re done? Join the Engineering Leadership for an interactive panel discussion on career retrospectives. We’ll have three short presentations about the art of giving yourself a career self-exam, and then open it up to questions.


    ·  Bill Grosso. “On the large scale” – Bill quit his job in June, became an EIR at a venture firm, and has been figuring out the next thing. In his mini presentation, he’ll share 20 tips for taking a year to figure out what’s next.

    ·   Ron Lichty.  “Changing your functional organization.” Ron Lichty has worn many hats in his career, from product management at Apple in the 80’s to VP of Engineering at Schwab during the dotcom boom to, most recently, acclaimed author of “Managing the Unmanageable.” In his mini-presentation, he’ll talk about changing functional areas as a career decision.

    ·   Person 3.  “Day to day. The Weekly Retrospective.”


    · Sam Hahn. VP of Engineering at eGain Communications. Co-Author: "Leading & Managing in Silicon Valley". Core Team: "Program For The Future". Entrepreneur, focused on solutions that help people live better lives. Experienced product and team builder with sales and marketing skills.

    ONGOING MANAGEMENT SPONSOR: Management Resources Sponsor: supports EL SIG members with a wide range of resources for managing organizations, projects, and people. Members can access links to templates, checklists, articles, and more from the Premium library. All this is available to ELSIG members at no charge, at the ELSIG page (Open Enrollment is offered twice a year for this benefit. It's that time of year! We'll be sending a notice shortly and you can sign up if you haven't already.)

    SNACK SPONSOR: Ryzen Solutions has been finding high caliber individuals for our clients in high-tech industries since 1999.   We have access to thousands of professionals; even those that are passive candidates and not actively looking, and whose resumes' are not posted on the public job boards. Our own internal database has over 51,000 candidates. Ryzen Solutions has been one of the best firms in Silicon Valley.  Our recruiters have degrees in electrical, software and mechanical engineering.  Our clients such as Apple, Cisco, eBay, PayPal, Samsung and many more have worked with us for many years because our team of 16+ recruiters work collaboratively to find the top talents for our clients. 

    More details below, and at the SVForum EL SIG Webpage: EngineeringLeadership

    William Grosso has been an acclaimed engineering and product leader ever since he walked away from his job as a research scientist in Artificial Intelligence. Whether as a VP of Engineering, a CTO, or as an SVP of Product, he's known for building high-performance organizations that ship innovative customer-centric products on time. What’s more, and what’s more important, people enjoy working for him and achieve personal bests under his direction (see his LinkedIn profile,, to read what people say about him). Currently, he splits his time between driving his son to school, incubating a new startup and consulting. The son is doing fine, the startup is in stealth mode, and the consulting practice focuses on helping customers think about their data (especially around predictive analytics), business intelligence, and revamping organizational processes to achieve higher performance. His customers range from the Fortune 500 to 10 person startups and just about the only thing they have in common is that they have an interesting problem they need Bill (or his team) to solve.

    Ron Lichty has been transforming chaos to clarity and making software development “hum” for most of his 20-plus years consulting with and managing software development and product organizations. From first-level manager to VP of Engineering and VP of Products, he has been brought in to solve problems like painfully slow product development, past-due estimates with no delivery in sight, challenges arising from geographically dispersed teams, productivity bridled by uncertainty, and an "order-taking mentality" from teams that should be eagerly proactive. Ron has repeatedly demonstrated that small tweaks can result in dramatic impacts to throughput, quality and customer focus. He has led products and development for companies of all sizes, from startups to the Fortune 500. His practice includes creating roadmaps everyone can follow, building communication with every part of the organization, leading agile transformations, and motivating and inspiring software development teams.

    Ron is a mentor, a coach and a team-builder. His book "Managing the Unmanageable: Rules, Tools, and Insights for Managing Software People and Teams" was published by Addison Wesley in September 2012. He co-chairs the Emerging Technology SIG for SVForum, co-chaired the east bay's Software Development Best Practices SIG, and a decade ago co-founded SVForum's Software Architecture and Modeling SIG. In March, he plans to skied a ninth cross-country ski marathon with Team in Training; his eight TNT ski teams have raised almost 1 1/2 million dollars for curing leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma and supporting patients and their families.

    Kathy Baldanza – VP of Engineering

    Kathy Baldanza is Vice President of Engineering for Perforce Software, parlaying 20-plus years in the technology industry to deliver world-class enterprise version management solutions. She jumped head-first into her current role at Perforce 12 years ago — and luckily there were no sharks. Building an engineering organization where everyone was valued for their expertise regardless of domain was an opportunity-come-true for Kathy, who has done every job in IT except documentation. 

    At Perforce Kathy has built an engineering organization made up of various disciplines that work in unison. In a configuration that is all too rare in the software business, Kathy spearheaded a unique engineering organization where customer focus is the hub around which the performance lab, build and release team, documentation team, UX team and program management team all revolve. In order to keep the trademark Perforce passion alive, she encourages role-switching among team members. 

    Under Kathy's leadership, Perforce engineering has grown into four functional areas, including development, engineering services, project management and its renowned technical support staff. Kathy also provides strategic insight as a member of Perforce's executive team. Thanks to extensive experience with both start-ups and established companies, Kathy is always eager to discuss the challenges of building and delivering innovative products. She loves gadgets and counts a few overnight coding marathons in her career, but also embraces life-work balance and efforts to give back to the community via volunteer work and non-profits.