Calibrate Conference 2019

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

September 27, 2019 - Conference

September 26 - Workshops

2019 will be our final event! Join us for one more terrific day of engineering leadership content this fall!

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

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


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.

Lara Hogan

Lara Hogan

Coach and Trainer

(Lara is hosting a workshop as well! See below) Lara is an author, public speaker, and coach for managers and leaders across the tech industry. As a founder of Wherewithall, Lara and her team run workshops, roundtables, and trainings on core management skills like delivering great feedback and setting clear expectations. Before Wherewithall, Lara spent a decade growing emerging leaders as the VP of Engineering at Kickstarter and an Engineering Director at Etsy. She champions management as a practice, building fast websites, and celebrating your achievements with donuts (and sometimes sushi). Her latest book, Resilient Management, is here to help those who find themselves responsible for supporting a team of people.

Kwasi Ohene-Adu

Kwasi Ohene-Adu

Entrepreneur in Residence

Kwasi is former VP of Engineering at Goodwater Capital, where he indulged his passion for entrepreneurship by contributing to finding and building the very best consumer technology companies. He served by offering his diverse skillset in leadership, entrepreneurship and engineering. Previously, Kwasi was founding engineer at Highfive, where he built and led teams in backend infrastructure services. Prior to Highfive, Kwasi was founding engineer at Color Labs, where he built and and led the Android team. Prior to startups and venture capital, he had a successful engineering tenure at Google, where he was one of the first members on Google's then new Google+ social initiative. He is happiest when building high performing teams as well as technology.

Nidhi Gupta

Nidhi Gupta

Experienced Engineering Executive

Nidhi Gupta is former Chief Product Officer at Hired, a marketplace that matches tech talent with the world’s most innovative companies. At Hired, Nidhi led the company’s global product, design, engineering, and operations 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.

Erica Stanley

Erica Stanley

SalesLoft, Engineering Manager

Erica Stanley is an engineer, entrepreneur and diversity & inclusion advocate. She is an engineering manager for the integrations and analytics teams at SalesLoft – where she’s helping grow the product engineering team for the 4th fastest growing software company in North America. Erica is active in the Atlanta technology community. She founded the Atlanta network of Women Who Code, where she organizes conferences, hackathons, workshops and networking events for women technologists. She also helps develop and teach youth coding programs and mentors entrepreneurs for local incubators and accelerators.

Alexandra "Ale" Paredes

Alexandra "Ale" Paredes

Code Climate, Head of Engineering

Ale is the Head of Engineering at Code Climate where she helps engineering leaders with data insights. With over 9 years of technical experience, she is passionate about growing an inclusive team and help foster an environment where everyone can grow their skills, do their best work, build resilient and scalable systems and deliver impactful solutions. Also, Ale is one of the founders of Latinas in Tech NYC.

Billie Sue Chafins

Billie Sue Chafins

Head of Hulu Seattle, VP, Software Development

Billie Sue Chafins has spent 18+ years shipping world-class consumer and enterprise software for large consumer technology companies, with over 12 years of experience managing teams. She is currently VP of Software Development at Hulu, where she leads all client development across mobile, web, and living room devices (like Xbox One, Playstation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Amazon FireTV). In this role, she manages a team of 130+ developers, technical program managers, and QA team members, responsible for delivering the best experience for our viewers across all devices. Billie Sue is also the Head of Hulu’s Seattle Office, where she is responsible the decision-making and operations of the company’s office in Seattle. Prior to Hulu, Billie Sue spent 14 years at Microsoft, leading several teams responsible for products like Windows UX and Office. She holds a BS and MS from the University of Kentucky in Computer Science.

Tara Ellis

Tara Ellis

Netflix, Engineering Manager

Tara Ellis is an avid tinkerer and has been since the early days of the world wide web. As a critical and creative thinker, she is a relentless problem-solver skilled at applying critical thinking, analysis, and technical skills. Tara is a strong believer in “Peopleware” and because of that has a keen understanding of building and managing engineering teams that deliver. Tara currently has the privilege of leading a team of engineers at Netflix where she has focused on continuously improving the sign-up and non-member experience to bring in the next 100 million Netflix members globally. Prior to joining Netflix, she lead engineering teams at Disney; if you’ve been to Disneyland or Disneyworld in the last decade, you’ve interacted with some of her teams’ software. She honed her engineering skills in the fast-paced, ever-changing environment at Amazon, learning lessons she still uses today. Outside of work, Tara loves to spend time with her family, cooking, and travelling. When not performing bedtime stories for her daughter, she is a passionate collector and player of board games and an aficionado of American bourbon.

Kathleen Vignos

Kathleen Vignos

Twitter, Director, Platform Engineering

Kathleen Vignos is a Director in Platform Engineering at Twitter, where she heads Twitter’s public cloud strategy and core infrastructure automation teams. She also leads Twitter’s internal engineering manager training program. Previously, she was Director of Engineering at Wired where she built the team that scaled the website to 1 billion page views a year. Over 20+ years she’s worked at two startups (one of which she founded), taught business software programming at the university level, won a hackathon, and developed dozens of websites. She regularly coaches engineering managers and female engineers on confidence and leadership. She serves on the Ambassador’s Council for local San Francisco non-profit, New Door Ventures.

Jean Hsu

Jean Hsu

Co-founder, Co Leadership

(Jean is co-hosting a workshop! See below) Jean is a co-founder of Co Leadership, a leadership development company for leaders in tech. She is passionate about sharing her people-centric leadership style with teams from small start-ups to larger companies. Having worked at Google, Pulse, and Medium before moving into leadership coaching and development, Jean brings a wealth of experience in both engineering and coaching to bridge engineers to the lives and careers they dream of.

Edmond Lau

Edmond Lau

Co-founder, Co Leadership

(Edmond is co-hosting a workshop! See below) Edmond Lau is the co-founder of Co Leadership, where his mission is to transform engineers into leaders. He runs leadership experiences and courses that teach people powerful tools and frameworks to bridge them from where they are to what's possible in their lives and careers. He's also the author of the book, The Effective Engineer — now the de facto onboarding guide for many engineering teams. He's spent his career leading engineering teams across Silicon Valley at Quip, Quora, Google, and Opixoyala. His work and writing have been featured in the New York Times, Forbes, Time, Slate, Inc., Fortune, and Wired.

Cathy Chen

Cathy Chen

Founder, Capriole Consulting

Cathy Chen currently leads an engineering team at Google, and previously has managed people at startups. With Capriole Consulting, she specializes in coaching tech leaders enabling the development of their own skills in leading teams. With her masters degree in Organizational Psychology from Teacher's College at Columbia University and a BS in Electrical Engineering Computer Science from UC Berkeley, she has the background of a hands-on geek, with expertise in research-backed organizational theory.

Program & Schedule

Our speakers have put together terrific, custom content for the day!

Registration & Breakfast


Sonya Green Program Director, Calibrate

Keynote: The End

In my final talk for Calibrate, I want to talk about the critical importance of endings. Each day as leaders, we work to efficient start a thing, to shepherd another thing strategically forward, and to communicate that progress to broad caring audience. Some days, we must choose to stop. To finish. To declare success or failure. And that’s when the learning really begins.

Michael Lopp Slack, VP of Engineering

Making the Unknown Manageable

Congrats! You’ve just started out on your new role of Engineering Manager. It’s now the end of the quarter, and your team has not achieved its goals. You’re tasked with improving performance for the next quarter. This was my situation last October! I’ll share how I learned to use data to evaluate our state, identify opportunities for improvement, drive change and ultimately increase our delivery performance by 50%. You will leave this talk with practical tips on how to tackle new and unfamiliar challenges by using qualitative and quantitative data to understand your problem, propose changes and help your team navigate them successfully, ensuring those changes are having the desired impact!

Ale Paredas Code Climate, Head of Engineering


Why Great 1-on-1s are like Perfect Formula One Pit Stops

1-on-1s can be a real source of anxiety for both new and experienced managers. At some point, we all inevitably encounter situations where we dutifully go through the routine motions of 1-on-1s but deep down, we know that the conversation did not have the effect we were hoping for. Instead of clarifying, we confuse; instead of inspiring, we demoralize. I’ll share some strategies I’ve borrowed from pit stops in Formula One racing to inspire people and unlock their true potential.

Kwasi Ohene-Adu Entrepreneur in Residence, Goodwater Capital

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Grow High Performance Teams

In my career, I’ve learned that effective leadership requires authenticity - in the leader, the leadership style, and the team. In order to lead with authenticity, you need to know yourself, your team, and put in the work to build trust. In this talk, I’ll explain what Authentic Leadership means, strategies to put it into practice, and why this style helps build high performing teams.

Tara Ellis Engineering Manager, Netflix

Reshaping the Leadership Model - How Introverts are Redefining What it Means to Lead

There’s an age-old assumption that the most charismatic, extroverted people are natural-born leaders, but that’s not always true. If you are a quiet person, you don’t have to change who you are to find success. Introverts can have a high impact in the workplace, but may have to battle the narrative that they’re not as ambitious or not meant to lead. In this talk, introverted leader Billie Sue Chafins outlines the strategies introverts can leverage to rise through the ranks to successfully lead teams. She’ll also discuss how all leaders can nurture and guide introverts to ensure they’re having a significant impact.

Billie Sue Chafins Head of Hulu Seattle, VP, Software Development

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

The Platinum Rule: Manage Others as They Need/Want to be Managed

When I went from individual contributor to being a manager, one difficult thing I learned was that I could not manage people the way that *I* wanted to be managed. I needed to instead manage differently, based on their knowledge, seniority on the team, and more: sometimes that means I need (*gasp*) to micro-manage people. At Calibrate, we will explore and discuss a model that guides you through identifying how to manage others, based on their individual needs and abilities. It has been highly effective with new managers whom I've coached or trained at places ranging from small startups to Google.

Cathy Chen Founder, Capriole Consulting

Building Impact Through Essentialism

New and experienced engineering leaders can struggle with understanding how to drive impact on our teams. Whether we’re individual contributors or managers, the more we grow, the more responsibilities we collect. Inevitably, we find ourselves with more responsibilities than time or resources. We might fall into the trap of trying to get it all done—with our teams, personal productivity, and even our health possibly suffering in the process. Perhaps the way to build impact isn’t doing all the things, but doing the right things. This is essentialism in a nutshell. We’ll discuss ways essentialism can help us become better leaders and ensure our teams are working with clarity and purpose.

Erica Stanley Engineering Manager, SalesLoft

Break (with Snacks!)

Lessons from the Trenches

As a new Engineering Manager, you pretty much drink from the firehose. This role is such a multi dimensional role, that you often are trying, simultaneously, to master a variety of skills. Nidhi’s talk will go into covering her philosophy on Engineering Management - The Five P's. Additionally, she will discuss some lessons she learnt about management that no one usually teaches. These little known facts, helped her become a much better engineering leader.

Nidhi Gupta Experienced Engineering Executive

How to Keep up Your Technical Skills Without Annoying Your Team(S)

According to a study by Benjamin Artz, Amanda Goodall, and Andrew J. Oswald of 35,000 randomly selected employees and workplaces, competent bosses are "easily the largest positive influence on a typical worker’s level of job satisfaction.” It’s a catch-22: our teams want technically competent managers, but they also often want managers to keep their hands off of their code. With the rapid pace of change in software development, how can we as managers stay technically current when our jobs demand that we move further and further away from the code the higher we go? And what if some of us just miss programming? I'll share creative strategies for developing and maintaining technical skills—some through the act of managing itself. We'll cover: understanding the systems you manage, automating management tasks, working on side projects and keeping up with trends.

Kathleen Vignos Twitter, Director, Platform Engineering

Break (with Snacks!)

Closing Keynote: What Humans Need at Work

Our core needs at work are exactly that: needs that must be met in order for us to feel safe and secure. That means our work as managers is incredibly important: to help our teammates (and ourselves) navigate surprising emotions, work through challenges and change, and develop a healthier and more stable state for our team.

Lara Hogan Coach and Trainer

Happy Hour


Workshops are $1,200/seat and include a light breakfast and lunch along with tea and beverages throughout.

Demystifying Management

When you switch from an individual contributor role to a manager role, you might find yourself floating in a sea of uncertainty. What does success look like as a manager? How do you know if you’re doing a good job or not, with such a long feedback loop between your actions and their outcome? How do you set the right tone and expectations for your team?

Lara Hogan Coach and Trainer

Building Alignment

What if you could get at the heart of what was important to your coworkers and stakeholders? What if you could navigate difficult conversations and get buy-in on the things you cared about? You'd be able to break through the friction and miscommunication that slow everything down. You'd be able to build alignment on shared goals, even when there's conflict. You'd be able to lead, even without authority.

Learn more about the "Building Alignment" workshop @

Jean Hsu Co Leadership, Co-founder

Edmond Lau Co Leadership, Co-founder


Calibrate and preceding workshops will be held 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

Request Invite

August 16, 2019: Thank you so, so much for your interest in Calibrate. Applications to Calibrate 2019 are now closed!

Limited space remains and will be made available to folks who have already applied. Unfortunately we don't have the ability to maintain a standby or waitlist. Not to fear! As we have for all prior years, We'll be publishing all talks and decks after the event.