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How we're scaling our tech team - VP of Engineering Chris Bushell

4 minute read

Tell us about the team and your role in it. 

I’m VP of Engineering at Cutover and oversee the development of the Cutover platform. We have about 60 people working on the platform, and we’re organized into a number of cross-functional squads. These squads represent core platform capabilities (e.g. Orchestration and Observability), as well as “Go To Market” offerings focused on our most common use cases (e.g. Operational Resilience and Cloud Migration). Additionally, we have a number of internally-facing squads helping us deliver our core platform more efficiently (e.g. Platform Engineering).

 

What has the process of scaling been like? Have there been any hiccups or "aha moments" to share?

Rapidly scaling certainly presents some challenges. Our Talent Team has done an incredible job of finding brilliant people for me to work with. My job is to figure out how to get our people working together in the most effective way.

When I joined, we had already grown from a family-sized business into a tribe and were well into village territory (see Blitzscaling by Reid Hoffman and Chris Yeh). One of the biggest challenges for individuals going through this journey is dealing with regular changes to their roles and responsibilities. 

As we’ve grown we’ve found the need to hire specialists to fill certain roles that didn’t formally exist a short time ago. It’s not that those jobs weren’t getting done in the past, rather they were done on an informal basis by someone whose main area of expertise was probably elsewhere. Giving up part of your role can feel really uncomfortable, but we have had some great “aha” moments when people realize it’s an opportunity to focus more of their time on the things they enjoy doing the most.

 

How would you describe the culture of the engineering team here and what are you keen to preserve and nurture as we grow?

I would say we have a very strong engineering culture throughout our business. Our founders all have backgrounds in engineering and technology, and it shows throughout the leadership team they’ve assembled and the wider business.

My team operates with high levels of autonomy and trust, which is made possible as I know everyone is out to do the right thing. I encourage everyone, at all levels, to look for opportunities for how we might improve and do things differently and to speak up and share their ideas. It’s important as we grow to maintain a “no egos” culture where everyone can contribute.

Sharing, more broadly speaking, is another key characteristic of our culture. Whether this takes the form of pair programming, our weekly showcases, regular show and tell sessions, or brown bags, we’re really keen to share our work with others and help everyone learn together.

 

What is one thing you are super proud of that the team has achieved over the past six months?

It’s impossible to single out one achievement as there have been so many! We’ve delivered some incredible customer-facing features like Dynamic Mode, the Runbook Timeline, Sharable Runbook Dashboards, and numerous Integrations.

A personal favorite of mine is the work we’ve done on test automation, which of course enables us to deliver customer-facing features like those already mentioned. As we continue to scale, it’s important to us that we maintain quality as the rate of change to our core product increases. 

By way of kick-starting this effort, we formed a small temporary squad to focus on refining our automated end-to-end testing process. The result was a test suite focused on our most common user journeys, as well as a framework for building future tests which is now the responsibility of the individual squads. This test suite runs on every commit and has already saved us from introducing some bugs in the product.

 

What's the most exciting project the team will be taking on in the next 3-6 months?

The product person in me wants to talk about one of the core capabilities of the Cutover platform which is our ability to integrate with external systems via their APIs to orchestrate work. Until now, we’ve had to build all the integrations our platform supports (e.g. Slack, GitHub, Ansible etc.). Something we’re really excited about is a project currently underway to empower our users to self-serve and build their own integrations. 

The engineer in me wants to talk about some of the really exciting things we’re doing with infrastructure. We’re hosted in AWS, and are doing some really great things with containerization, Kubernetes, and Argo to improve developer efficiency. Maybe that’s another blog post in itself!


 

To find out more about what our engineering team are up to you can check out our blog covering more on integrations, cloud migration, and platform implementation, among other topics! If you’re also interested in finding out more about what life is like at Cutover as a Cutovian have a read of our careers page, explore our culture and values, and see what roles we’re currently hiring for in our tech teams.