How to Hire a VP Engineering?

Posted

11th February 2021
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o you need to hire a VP of Engineering? Here’s when and how you should

Engineering is, without a doubt, one of the critical functions of any tech company. The team is responsible for developing the product that sits at the heart of the business; the product drives sales and is used by the customer.

As your engineering team’s demands grow, so too does the need for someone to step in and lead this function. You’ll need someone in a leadership position to make the critical decisions and ensure the team delivers features and releases on time.

If you’ve found your business has reached this stage, it could be time to ask yourself, ‘do I need to hire a VP of Engineering?’

The role of a VP of Engineering

The role of a VP of Engineering is vast, and their responsibilities many. They will have to ensure the quality of the code, the methodology and logistics used to release new and updated products, and have full responsibility for the tech stack used to build the products.

As well as overseeing their engineering team, a VP of Engineering acts as a go-between for members of the senior team (who’s product they’re now likely responsible for) and the product team – read our ‘when and how to hire a Head of Product’ article here

Successful VPs need to focus not only on the tech requirements alone, but they need to make their team members feel like crucial participants at the same time.

Like so many cross-functional senior positions, the role of a VP of Engineering is a complex, multi-faceted one which can incorporate:

Product Planning: While responsible for managing the engineering team to execute the product’s creation, their role before development during the product-planning phase is critical.

A good VP of Engineering brings clarity to the process, provides feedback into the resources needed to deliver and works with a unified view to deliver on the company’s broader objectives.

Maintaining Practicality: In the quest to finding a repeatable product that fits in the market, garnering feedback and showcasing value quickly is crucial. A VP of Engineering should ensure that practical, incremental designs are created so that sufficient feedback can be gathered, and the long-term generality of the system isn’t compromised.

Team Management: and the ability to handle any issues that arise throughout the process is a key element of a VP of Engineering’s role. Customer escalations, feature requests, integrations and meeting with customers need to be addressed while driving the product forwards.

Likewise, the role encompasses building the team’s culture and ensuring each member is pulling in the same direction to deliver on time. A good VP of Engineering must understand that the team is ever-evolving and needs to balance the existing culture with the emerging ones.

Account Management: While typically an internally facing role, customers may want to talk to the VP of Engineering both before and after using the product. Whether it’s to gain an understanding of the process of QA or to deal with product issues down the line, there’s a chance they may be called upon to alleviate any fear a  a customer may have.

When should you hire a VP of Engineering?

Anticipating the moment that bringing someone into the engineering team who will put in place the right processes and get the best from the team is the real challenge.

There are arguments to suggest that the benefits of hiring a VP of Engineering sooner rather than later outweigh those if you delay. Acting swiftly to bring in someone with the necessary skills set before problems begin is key, even if it seems too soon relative to size and headcount.

Don’t wait to crumble under an ad hoc process.

Often companies don’t feel they need to hire a VP of Engineering as their engineering team is either too small or has the necessary experience in it to continue.

However, with more frequent changes in the market and increasing pressures on businesses a common theme, hiring someone in this role will provide the backbone necessary to steady the ship and weather these storms.

How do you hire a VP of Engineering?

When a business reaches the decision that hiring a VP of Engineering is the right decision, finding the best talent is essential. When hiring for such an instrumental role, you’ll want to use all the resources and tools available to you and go about the hiring process in the most efficient way.

As such, there are a number of things to consider when looking to hire a VP of Engineering into your business.

Are you offering them something they can get behind?

Having the opportunity to take an idea, run with it and build a great product are real motivating factors for Engineering professionals. They’re builders and want to play their part in something for the future.

If you can demonstrate the future vision of your company, share your story and how they can help accelerate success will generate buy-in from your candidates.

Are you clear on the ideal candidate for the role you want to fill?

Hiring based solely on examples of success and desired pedigree can sometimes be a mistake as you can lose sight of the criteria you need in this new hire.

Having clarity on the role, the business’ pain points and potential areas for success are crucial. Sticking to them during the hiring process is even more critical. Doing so will mean the job description and requirements don’t shift to accommodate every candidate you meet with.

Do they display the requisite hard and soft skills?

Whilst the role of a VP of Engineering is undoubtedly one that requires a great level of technical knowledge, they also need to display valuable soft skills too.

Make sure you ask the right questions to determine whether they have the capacity to manage their team effectively. Do they display emotional intelligence? Can the lead with strong communication and people management skills?

Do you need help from a specialist recruitment agency?

Doing so will tap into their networks and experience, as well as saving you time.  

If you go down this route, it’s important to work with an agency that specialises in helping businesses to hire senior-level technology professionals and not a ‘one size fits all’ agency. A specialist will understand the current market conditions and what it takes to encourage a move so you can secure the best VP of Engineering talent.

If you decide that the time has come to hire a VP of Engineering into your business, make sure you understand the ideal candidate who possesses not only the requisite skills and experience but also the ability to fit into your team.

Revere Digital Recruitment have a wealth of experience hiring VP of Engineering into technology-driven business across the UK. If you need advice on whether hiring a VP of Engineering is right for your business, then get in touch.

This is the fourth in our When and How to Hire’ series which looks at hiring for senior-level technology talent. For more information, you can read our articles here.