Calibrate Conference 2017

You’re a great engineer. Become a great leader.
A conference for new engineering leaders hosted by seasoned engineering leaders.

September 29, 2017 - San Francisco

Thanks for attending everyone! We'll update folks in #calibrate on the Rands Leadership Slack and at @calibratesf as slides and videos become available.

Why Calibrate?

As fast as we're growing our engineering teams, we're also creating engineering leaders and it's often learn-as-you-go. Engineering leadership has a specific set of challenges with respect to the intersection of people, technology and process, and almost no reference material or developmental community surrounding it.

Let’s change that.

We’re bringing together accomplished engineering veterans to address the unique needs of newly minted engineering leaders. We’ll share what it’s like to grow from an engineer to a leader, and offer advice on what to learn in your first few years of leadership. You’ll take away tactics and frameworks for decision making you can put to work immediately.

Who Attends?

Calibrate is aimed at practicing engineering managers, responsible for the people on their team. New people managers will get the most out of this day. As you decide if this conference is for you, know that this event includes people from varying experience levels:

  • most attendees are new to management
  • some people haven’t yet started their first management role yet
  • a few are managing ... without the title
  • and a small group are veterans (including our speakers)

These are the people you will be meeting, networking with, eating lunch with, talking about hard problems with.

What does good engineering leadership look like? Gain valuable insight and useful techniques to put into action.


It was invaluable for someone with my odd background and path to software engineering to connect with people from such diverse and impactful companies as you had in attendance.

Robert Edwards

Still processing @CalibrateSF - definitely the most densely beautiful conference I’ve been to. Thanks to the organizers for your hard work!

Andrew Bredow

The talks were amazing, but lunch might have been my favorite part. As an aspiring manager, talking to several people at different stages in their career and different fields was really interesting.

Adam Coulter

At Calibrate I learned that management is not a set of commits. It’s different for everyone and really, really hard. But the speakers at Calibrate made me even more excited about being an engineering manager. I made invaluable connections to other people in my shoes, and got something tangible out of every single talk.

Sonja Broach

This was my first year at Calibrate and, with all the lessons, questions, and friends it left me with, it won't be my last! So glad I went.

Jordan Degner

Spending a day with thoughtful and inspiring leaders is just what the doctor ordered. Calibrate SF is exactly that place. Whether you've been leading teams for decades or just getting started, you'll most definitely learn something new, I certainly did.

Bruno Miranda


These are the people we wish we worked for.

Michael Lopp

Michael Lopp

Slack, VP of Engineering

Michael is a Silicon Valley-based engineering leader who builds both people and product at companies such as Borland, Netscape, Palantir, and Apple. While he's not worrying about staying relevant, he writes about pens, bridges, people, poker, and werewolves at the popular weblog, 'Rands in Repose'. He currently works as the VP of Engineering at Slack in San Francisco.

Marcy Swenson

Marcy Swenson

Startup Happiness, Executive Coach

Marcy is an executive coach, as well as a seasoned technology professional, and a veteran of several successful startups. As a founder at Critical Path, she built the tech team that led to IPO. Forbes named CPTH the fastest growing high tech company in the world in 1999 (3 to 3000 in 4 years). Marcy is a co-founder & executive coach at Startup Happiness, where she helps entrepreneurs with everything from basic leadership skills to deep personal growth.

Nick Caldwell

Nick Caldwell

Reddit, VP of Engineering

Nick is responsible for building and operating the 4th most visited site in the US. Prior to joining Reddit, he held various positions in engineering leadership at Microsoft across a 15 year career. He holds a degree in computer science and electrical engineering from MIT, an MBA from U.C. Berkeley Haas, and holds 10 patents related to natural language processing. Nick is an active participant in /dev/color: a non-profit whose mission is to maximize the impact of Black software engineers, and founder of Color Code: a scholarship fund dedicated to future leaders of color in technology fields.

Jill Wetzler

Jill Wetzler

Lyft, Director of Engineering

Jill Wetzler is Director of Engineering at Lyft, leading their Infrastructure org. Jill’s teams provide the infrastructure necessary to scale some of Lyft’s most critical services and keep engineers shipping code. She helped create UpLyft Tech, Lyft’s organization focused on diversity and inclusion within engineering. Prior to Lyft she managed teams of engineers and data scientists at Twitter, and she’s also been a manager and lead engineer at Jill holds a BS in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon University.

Rod Begbie

Rod Begbie

Dropbox, Engineering Manager

Originally from Scotland, Rod now lives in San Francisco, CA and works as an Engineering Manager at Dropbox. Previously, he was the Co-Founder & CTO of Sosh. Past lives have been as VP of Software Engineering at Anova Culinary, and writing code at places like Slide, Current TV, Bose and — for 39 days — Google. His writing is featured in O’Reilly’s '97 Things Every Programmer Should Know: Collective Wisdom from the Experts'.

Shivani Sharma

Shivani Sharma

Slack, Sr. Engineering Manager

Shivani is a Senior Engineering Manager at Slack and currently leads the New User Experience engineering team. She is passionate about the engineering leadership craft. She is a mentor in the community where she mentors startup CTOs and engineering managers. Shivani also recently joined the Ascent expert community, a program in partnership with Sequoia Capital, that focuses on career development and mentorship for professional women. In her 10 years working in Silicon Valley she has worked at Google, BigFix and IBM. She is a UCLA graduate in Electrical Engineering and in her free time enjoys running, yoga and when she can get away, exploring the world.

Jared Jordan

Jared Jordan

Evernote, Sr. Engineering Manager

Jared has been building software and leading engineering teams for nearly 15 years at Ericsson, Microsoft and Motorola. Currently, he’s is focused on Leading the Growth and Commerce effort for Evernote. Jared has gotten involved in driving diversity efforts for the Evernote engineering department and as a result has helped reshape the company’s interview process. He’s also a husband and father of three, avid church goer, and craft beer connoisseur as well as a member of Dev Color's A* Program where he empowers fellow Black software engineers to help them achieve their career goals.

Karen Catlin

Karen Catlin

Advocate for Women in Tech, Former VP of Engineering, Adobe

After spending over 25 years building software products, Karen Catlin is now an advocate for women working in the tech industry. She's a leadership coach, a frequent speaker, and co-author of "Present! A Techie’s Guide to Public Speaking." She holds a degree in Computer Science from Brown University.

Michael Ruggiero

Michael Ruggiero

Twilio, Sr. Engineering Manager

Michael has worked as an engineer for Nokia and adBrite, and led backend development for both Sharethrough and Live Nation. As a leader, Michael believes that managers prioritizing employee satisfaction and engagement are destined to reap the most in terms of team performance. As a father of three, he is consistently reminded that "no one talks like that anymore."


Our speakers are putting together terrific, custom content for the day.

As it evolves, the program will be updated (all time slots are tentative).

Registration & Breakfast


Sonya Green and Rob Slifka Program Director and Founder, Calibrate

The New Manager Death Spiral

In this talk, Lopp walks us through a story where a new manager successfully performs every single common mistake in their new role. The New Manager Death Spiral is a cautionary tale full of good advice.

Michael Lopp Slack, VP of Engineering

The Art of the Pre-Meeting

Engineering managers leverage meetings heavily—to coordinate and motivate their team, to gather issues, to provide status updates to leadership, to pitch new ideas on architecture, process, or approaches for solving customer needs. Behind the scenes, there’s a secret weapon to ensure a successful outcome of any kind of meeting. It’s called the pre-meeting, and in this session you'll discover why it's so useful and learn a framework to apply before your next meeting.

Karen Catlin Advocate for Women in Tech, Former VP of Engineering, Adobe


The Inclusive Leader: Tips for Developing Diverse Teams

"Managing people is hard. Managing people who aren’t like you is harder. As we push to build more diverse teams, how do we ensure everyone can succeed equally? Exceptional leaders use empathy to develop relationships with their teammates, don’t shy away from conversations that feel risky, and use a variety of tactics to bring out the best in their colleagues.

This talk will cover challenging situations using scenarios from both sides of the manager/direct report relationship, applicable to anyone who’s tasked with developing the careers of their teammates. You’ll leave with specific tips on how to ensure everyone gets the opportunity and support they need to perform."

Jill Wetzler Lyft, Director of Engineering

Climbing the Mountain of Leadership Productivity

Whether you are transitioning into a leadership position as a new manager, new to a company, or changing roles, here is a guide with some practical steps to help you plan how to be productive and effective in your first 90 days.

Jared Jordan Evernote, Sr. Engineering Manager

Lunch - Planning for October

One of the challenges of leadership is in developing connections with other leaders to both teach and learn from. Our challenge to you is to make one connection today. Meet one person to follow up with in October. What could they help you with? What have you recently levelled up in that might help them? Pro-tip: Not the person you came with :)

You! Brilliant Engineering Manager @ Calibrate


Engineering Management Anti-Patterns

Engineering management uses a totally different skill set from being an individual contributor or technical leader. All too often, engineers are promoted into management with little training, and left to learn from their mistakes. But no more! Now you can learn from someone else’s mistakes! Learn the anti-patterns to watch out for as you tackle this new challenge

Rod Begbie Dropbox, Engineering Manager

Tripling Down without Losing Control: Rapidly Scaling the Engineering Team at Reddit

As of 2017, Reddit has 300 million monthly visitors, ranking #4 most visited web-site in US and #8 in the world. This kind of tremendous traffic takes some serious engineering efforts that have had to scale with the site's growing popularity. Nick will discuss his engineering team's approach to agile development as they scaled from 40 to 120 engineers. He will walk you through their engineering work flow, use of tools like JIRA and Tableau, discuss meeting rhythms, an and cover the must-have cultural elements of a successful team that work at every point of scale.

Nick Caldwell Reddit, VP of Engineering

Navigating Difficult Conversations

High performing engineers are rewarded with opportunities to become managers. Initially many new managers rely more on their technical chops - it's what they're used to, however, it’s the people skills that are essential now. In this talk Shivani will talk about the array of difficult conversations a new manager will encounter, and what she’s learned so that others may fare better.

Shivani Sharma Slack, Senior Engineering Manager


Daydream Believer

The term "B players" is used to describe engineers who are barely meeting the bar and not meeting their potential. Here's a secret: there are no B players -- only people working at a B level. Michael talks about how to identify people who could use a boost, how to find what dreams they have, and use that to help them reach their dream potential.

Michael Ruggiero Twilio, Sr. Engineering Manager

Winning at Growth Conversations

As a manager, you'll be approached repeatedly by direct reports, asking about promotions, raises, and title changes. Many managers respond with fear, anger, or dread, because they're not sure what to do. In this talk, I'll give you frameworks and tools to better navigate these conversations, and to turn them into opportunities for learning, growth, and connection.

Marcy Swenson Startup Happiness, Executive Coach

Happy Hour


Calibrate will be held on Friday, September 29, 2017 in San Francisco, at the Terra Gallery

Terra Gallery, 511 Harrison St., San Francisco

Request Invite

Thank you for your interest! Calibrate 2017 is now sold out.

Updates and information can be found in #calibrate on the Rands Leadership Slack and at @calibratesf on Twitter.

We’ll share videos and speaker decks about a month or so after the event, available on the Sharethrough YouTube channel and respectively.