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Leadership in engineering: Practical advice from Moonpig

Natalia Moonpig

ARTICLE SUMMARY

Natalia Miller, Engineering Manager at moonpig has worked her way up to a successful leadership role. She shares with us actionable advice about what she’s learned about leadership.

What are your key principles of leadership?

Authenticity

You cannot expect others to listen and respect you if you are not actually authentic. If others believe you as you are and in what you are saying then they will listen.

Transparency

This aligns closely with being authentic. People are not stupid and will want you to be honest about situations that may be occurring. If you are honest and transparent they will trust you and your judgement more.

Communication

Being able to listen and communicate with others well is very important. For example, if you want to deliver a message, you need to have awareness of how you are doing so and whether they will accept that message. If you are unable to choose a good format or use the right language, for example, your message can get lost, misinterpreted and lead to frustration.

Have you experienced any leadership challenges in a male-orientated space? how did you overcome them?

I haven’t experienced any direct challenges within my leadership roles, however, I do often struggle to feel confident to speak up when it comes to being on a call with multiple other male counterparts. I am quite often on a call with 10+ other male Engineering Managers and I do sometimes have a crisis of confidence in terms of overthinking what I have to say to make sure it comes across well and I am not embarrassing myself. I have never been made to feel embarrassed so unsure why I put this pressure on myself!

Do you have any advice for women in tech on the importance of a network and how to build it?

I find networking very important, even from a point of view of chatting to and listening to the experiences of other women in the industry. It makes me feel more comfortable and confident in my role as I know I am not the only one in the same situation. In order to build your network, I would advise attending as many virtual and in-person women in tech events & conferences.

Recently I attended Reframe WIT in Manchester and met many other women across the industry and part of some of the activities meant we naturally chatted and found out more about each other and some of us were facing the same problems in our workplace.

Can you share some tools, resources, AND organisations that you’ve found useful in your role?

Meetup.com is very useful as there are plenty of tech meetup groups throughout the UK as well as tech meetups aimed at women. It’s been great to attend and learn about how different businesses are adopting the latest tech as well as growing my network. Before the pandemic, I regularly attended the Women in Tech Manchester meetup group.

How do you go about getting the best out of THE people you manage?

Listening

It’s important to actually listen to your team; they will respond well and want to work well if they feel like they are valued.

Showing vulnerability & being empathetic

As mentioned previously, if you are transparent with others around you and show vulnerability they will trust you more and feel more comfortable confiding in you if there is something troubling them. They’re also more likely to open up and be honest with you about how they feel things are getting on generally.

If you also show empathy towards that person and put yourself in their shoes, they will also reciprocate this if you ever need someone to lean on.

Trusting their judgement

It is important to delegate to the team and trust them when they make suggestions or make judgement calls. When it comes to tech and engineering, as the engineers are in the code most of the time, they in my opinion are the experts and I rely on them to tell me how to get things solved.

What do you think are the most critical skills to be successful in your role?

As an Engineering manager – as well as listening and empathy, it is very important to have good problem-solving and communication skills. We are constantly coming across stumbling blocks and needing to find a way out; this is where those critical skills come into play.

You need to get the team together, make sure everyone has an opportunity to offer suggestions, work through pros and cons and come to an agreement on a way forward.

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