When I first started at Traveloka, I observed some good engineering practices but saw that other practices could be improved. While 2020 has thrown some curveballs into the mix, it also created a need for innovation and this challenge has been key to us figuring out how to empower engineers to work productively from home.

In therms of what I felt could be improved, one of the first things I noticed was a lack of centralized documentation. Without comprehensive documentation, how could we onboard an engineer remotely? In such a situation, we don’t have the luxury of a whiteboard to…


Recently I had a roundtable discussion with my engineers on what makes a great engineer. What are the traits that you would like to see in yourself or your peers? What was interesting is that there is no standard accepted definition or trait. Everyone had their own unique perspective and thoughts on who they would like to work with.

The following are some of the skills that we discussed engineers need. These are not in any order, and if you notice, most of them are soft-skills. We’re not talking about languages or frameworks. …


Last year, I wrote a post after about 6 months being a manager of a rather large team (two pizzas would definitely not be enough to feed them). I wrote about the types of questions I ask during 1:1s. Here’s a little update as to why you shouldn’t really follow my advice anymore.

Following a Template will not Help Your Team Grow

If you’re looking for templates questions for your 1:1s, don’t. It’s great as a first-time manager to start somewhere, but as soon as you have more experience, you realise that a template of questions that you ask everyone is not really effective for growth.

You want to…


Unfortunately, the world has gone a bit upside down over the last few months. We’ve seen countless layoffs across many different industries and countries. Now, more than ever, we’re also seeing leaders truly emerge and help their people navigate through the choppy waters.

Be Clear

One thing I’ve now noticed that great leaders like Jacinda Ardern (Prime Minister of New Zealand) have done, is that they are really clear and direct about what they say. People understand them and the thoughts behind the policies or words.

As a leader in these crazy times, please remember to be clear with your teams. Let…


I was recently given the opportunity to train an engineer in my team to take over my role. This engineer volunteered to become a people manager. Now, obviously, not everyone is cut out for people management. This is just a few of the steps I took to help transition the engineer.

1. Determine their motivations

Just because someone is asking to become a people manager (Engineering Manager) in this instance, doesn’t mean they will be a fit. You need to determine what their motivation for becoming a people manager is. …


When I started my 1:1s a few months ago, I kept asking the same questions over and over. In fact, I found that I wasn’t really learning anything new about my team. So, I want to go over some questions that I’ve experimented with and see what questions you may ask during your 1:1s.

Was this 1:1 useful to you?

Now, I’m going to start with a retrospective question that I used to ask after every 1:1. I’ve stopped asking this question now because I’ve found the feedback I get from it doesn’t bring me anything. …


Quick intro: I recently switched my career path. I was a tech lead, which basically means that I lead a project but I had no reports, and now I’m an Engineering Manager. As an Engineering Manager, I longer “lead” a project in the technical sense, I am responsible for people.

What I want to talk about today, is how I’m quickly iterating on my 1:1s. I’m seeing what is working and what is not. My first “official” 1:1s with my team I had no agenda (which from what I’ve read is what should happen) and I just got to know…


Recently, we discovered that we had a lot of duplication in our build scripts. Pretty much the same copy+paste code everywhere (we have a mono-repository). So, it came to me to try and resolve this duplication of logic across our builds (multiple services).

For context, we use the declarative pipeline, which for some projects involves utilising a docker image to set up dependencies. This makes it harder to include a shared script as things like “load filename.groovy” won’t work. But, there is a way around this.

There is a function, and you use a trusted library that’s in your source…


I went rogue! I did it. I led a team remotely (within the same country, of course). But to be honest, I can’t say too much changed while I was away from the office. It was, as it should be, business as usual.

Now, I can’t say I’m an expert on this, because I’ve only tried one week away from the office. But I do think there are a few caveats that you need to keep in mind when you lead remotely.

As I’ve mentioned in Being a Remote-Enabled Team, you need to have rules or processes in place before…


Being a remote-enabled team doesn’t mean you are remote-first. It means that you’re open to your colleagues occasionally working (or maybe full time) from home (or wherever). Today, I’m going to explain how my team at Careem is a remote-enabled team and what that means for our work and culture.

It’s scary

Having employees work remotely is scary for management. How can they trust you to do your work if they can’t see you? At Careem, we already have multiple offices that people work from. …

Alex Aitken

Writer and engineering manager @ Traveloka // www.alexaitken.nz

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