Calibrate Conference 2018

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

September 21, 2018 - San Francisco

If you're here to learn more about Calibrate, welcome! We suggest starting with our About Page for information about the event, and having a look at videos and decks from previous events.

Thanks for attending everyone! Videos and slides are now 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
  • 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

Speakers and Panelists

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.

Katie Womersly

Katie Womersly

Buffer, Director of Engineering

Katie is Director of Engineering at Buffer, a globally distributed team with no offices, and an O’Reilly author. At Buffer, she leads the engineering team and is focused on crafting productive, effective teams - delivering a world class software product. She previously worked as a software engineer before moving into leadership. Her writing has appeared in The Next Web, Inc Magazine and Fast Company.

Mekka Okereke

Mekka Okereke

Google, Engineering Director

Mekka currently serves as an Engineering Director Google Play, one of the largest digital marketplaces on earth. Mekka is passionate about building diverse and inclusive teams. His organization is one of the most inclusive engineering teams at Google and comprised of 10% black, 10% Latinx, half of the managers are women, and 30% of the software engineers are women. He is a frequent speaker, consultant, non-profit board member and mentor sharing his expertise with leaders on inclusivity in the workplace, diversity in tech, and successful team building.

Kathryn Koehler

Kathryn Koehler

Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Director of Engineering

In another reality, Kathryn designs race cars for a living. In this one, she's the Director of Engineering an for the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative’s Meta project, leveraging the power of ML to democratize scientific research. In her 20-plus year career, Kathryn has scaled and led engineering teams in ways that allow her inner process wonk to thrive. But she still finds the time to mentor new managers, bike, run, play soccer, embarrass her kids, and even sleep once in a while. Kathryn was formerly Sr. Director of Applications Engineering at Evernote and holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford.

Chris Winn

Chris Winn

Creative Market, CTO

As CTO, Chris leads Creative Market's largest team, which includes product engineering, Web Ops, and Search & Discovery. Chris serves on Creative Market's board of directors and executive team, spends time mentoring and speaks about management, technology and growing companies.

Tia Caldwell

Tia Caldwell

Slack, Senior Engineering Manager

Tia Caldwell is a Senior Engineering Manager on Slack’s Monetization. In the past 12 years, she’s led engineering teams at Netflix’s and managed a multitude of Microsoft products. Most recently, she’s serves as an active participant in /dev/color: a non-profit whose mission is to maximize the impact of Black software engineers, and is co-founder of Color Code: a scholarship fund dedicated to future leaders of color in technology fields. Tia studied computer science at Xavier University of Louisiana and spent her undergraduate years doing research for the Missile Defense Agency.

Christian McCarrick

Christian McCarrick

Auth0, VP of Engineering

Christian McCarrick is the VP of Engineering for Auth0 where he manages a globally distributed team. He is dedicated to improving the craft of software engineering leadership. He volunteers his time to mentor through the Everwise and Plato networks and teaches engineering workshops for new engineering managers. He also hosts a popular podcast called SimpleLeadership where he interviews top technology leaders in order to help other managers grow and be successful.

Poornima Vijayashanker

Poornima Vijayashanker

Femgineer, Founder

For more than a decade, Poornima Vijayashanker has led and coached engineering and product teams through processes related to people and product; from idea to shipping product to successfully exiting. She is currently the founder of Femgineer, an education company dedicated to helping techies level up in their careers and build products and companies. Previously she was a lecturer at Duke University's Pratt School of Engineering, and the founding engineer at Poornima holds degrees in Electrical and Computer Engineering and Computer Science from Duke University.

Hasan Korre

Hasan Korre

Amazon Lab126, Software Manager

Hasan's current focus is next-generation products at Lab126. He leads efforts in microcontrollers, sensors, embedded algorithms, and diagnostics on the Platform Software team. Prior to joining Amazon, Hasan was an early employee in a number of startups in the Bay Area including Skycatch (drones), Mayfield Robotics (home robotics), and Drive.AI (autonomous cars), with his work often crossing the boundaries between software, electrical engineering and physics. He is passionate about bringing new technologies to market and mentoring early-career engineers.

Nidhi Gupta

Nidhi Gupta

Hired, Senior Vice President of Technology

Nidhi is SVP of Technology at Hired, a marketplace that matches tech talent with the world’s most innovative companies. She leads the company’s global engineering, developer operations and product teams. Nidhi is a skilled engineer and product executive who is passionate about building and growing thriving product and engineering organizations that deliver world-class products at scale. Prior to Hired, Nidhi was Senior Vice President of Product and Engineering at Tophatter and Upwork. Previously, she was instrumental in leading mobiTV and Ning through hyper-growth and expansion.

Program & Schedule

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

Registration & Breakfast


Sonya Green Program Director, Calibrate

Keynote: Ignite the Fire - How Managers can Spark New Leaders

Nick discusses the three ingredients for inspiring your non-manager leaders to emerge and provides a simple techniques any new manager can apply.

Nick Caldwell Looker, Chief Product Officer

Keynote: How To Rands

In this talk, we’ll walk through the process of setting expectations with your new hires on your team via a MANAGER README. Come learn how to make the first 90 days of your new hire’s life less painful.

Michael Lopp Slack, VP of Engineering


Communicate Like a Boss

Learn several strategies to improve your communication skills when interacting with coworkers at all levels, in addition to friends and family!

Kathryn Koehler Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Dir. of Engineering

How to Hire Your Dream Team

As a first-time engineering manager in 2014, I inherited not only a team of people but a management and hiring philosophy. A lack of trust in people to contribute and do grea things led to low morale, lack of technical innovation and hurt productivity. In this talk I show hiring managers how to consistently bring in great talent and build the team they've always dreamed of leading.

Chris Winn CTO, Creative Market

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

Building Inclusive Engineering Teams

Mekka has built inclusive engineering teams both at start-ups, and major tech companies like Google. In this talk, Mekka shares practical, effective tips for building inclusive teams.

Mekke Okereke Google, Engineering Director

How to avoid “Manager Gameface!” and become an authentic leader

Openness and authenticity are critical to gaining trust and respect your new direct reports. How can you do this when you don’t yet know what you’re doing? Rationally afraid of appearing incompetent, many new managers resort to putting on "Manager Gameface": presenting a sanitized, slightly robotic version of yourself, and pretending to know what you’re doing. Your strategy is doomed to fail because you don’t - but that’s ok! In this practical talk, Katie will share real-world stories and tips about how to jump-start trust building and be the right kind of vulnerable. You’ll learn how to avoid the dreaded “Manger Gameface”, and become the confident, authentic and professional leader that your team can rely on.

Katie Womersley Buffer, Director of Engineering

Break (with Snacks!)

Difficult Conversations As A New Manager

As a new manager there will be difficult conversations in all directions where you'll deliver and receive feedback to and from your manager and direct reports. We have varying degrees of experience on this panel and we'll discuss the things that are always going to be hard and what gets easier with time. We'll also share advice and the best tips we've learned along the way.

Christian McCarrick Auth0, VP of Engineering

Nidhi Gupta Hired, SVP of Technology

Hasan Korre Amazon Lab126, Software Manager

Tia Caldwell Slack, Senior Engineering Manager

How To Scale Yourself As A First Time Leader

"When you're a first time leader it's hard to transition from being a problem solver to leading a team to solve problems. It's often tempting to step-in and solve problems for your team. However, the more often you step-in, you end up stripping your team's autonomy, and neglect your own work. Ultimately, this makes it hard to scale yourself.

Instead you need to learn how to train your teammates, delegate problems to them, trust they'll be able to resolve them, and develop an intuition for knowing when it's appropriate to step in and help solve a problem.

In this talk, Poornima Vijayashanker will be sharing a framework for scaling yourself and building a self-sufficient team."

Poornima Vijayashankar Femgineer, Founder


Your VC Secret Decoder Ring

How the physics of funding and business affects your job as an engineering manager.

Marcy Swenson Startup Happiness, Executive Coach

Happy Hour


Calibrate will be held on Friday, September 21, 2018 in San Francisco, at the beautiful Golden Gate Club located in the historic Presidio district, a stone's throw from the Golden Gate Bridge.

135 Fisher Loop, San Francisco, CA 94129

Sold Out!

Thank you for interest! Calibrate 2018 is sold out.

As with previous years, all talks and decks will be online following the event.