Checklist to Simplify Titles: Engineering

To help CEO/Founders determine which title to choose when hiring for a leadership position, we have created a five-part Checklist to Simplify Titles series. 

During this series, we helped tech startup and scale-up CEO/Founders determine which title they should choose when hiring a divisional leader. 

In this edition, we will be covering Engineering. Our Sales, Product, Marketing and Customer Success checklists are all available through our blog. Though sometimes used interchangeably, the VP and Head of Engineering titles should reflect the nuances of their role: 

VP Engineering 

  • Reports to a CTO or CEO/Founder 
  • Depending on the company situation, they might also report to the Co-Founder 
  • Often the senior most development leader
  • Participates in company "town halls" as the functional leader
  • Owns the technical roadmap and responsible for its delivery
  • Focused on optimizing release cadence and architecture - typically transitioning from monolith legacy systems to cloud-based, service-oriented architecture
  • Moves across strategy and execution seamlessly, "rolling up their sleeves" when necessary
  • Direct reports usually fall into a few distinct teams: software dev/engineering, QA, Architecture, DevOps, Data Engineering/Science, and on very rare occasions Product Management
  • Both Engineering titles are focused on growing teams and organizing them into squads 

Head Of Engineering

  • Reports to the Founder/CEO 
  • This title typically exists in young modern tech startups
  • Sometimes applied to attract a senior-level individual contributor, or as part of a retention strategy
  • Usually the first technical leader hired to get a MVP/V1 out the door
  • Often a scrappy persona as they need to be hands-on
  • If they lead others, it's a small number of Software Dev, QA and DevOps
  • Work closely with the product team and their peer, the Head of Product Management

Hiring a Head of Engineering? Make sure they have these 5 moved coveted traits