Aspiring to Lead: Committed to Giving Back
At WP Engine, we are guided and held accountable by our 5 core values: do the right thing, customer-inspired, where the best get better, built to last, and aspiring to lead: committed to giving back. As WP Engine employees, we always strive to make decisions with these values in mind. This way, we can continue to define and cultivate our company culture. By doing our part to ensure an enjoyable and fulfilling work environment, we are able to better deliver digital experiences for our customers.
In this series, we highlight a WP Engine employee embodying those core values. “Aspiring to Lead: Committed to Giving Back” means we empower our team and ourselves to lead and participate in meaningful programs in our own communities. By engaging with our local communities, we can change lives and grow together. Mike Angstadt, Sr. Manager of Engineering, has grown professionally at WP Engine and is now using his expertise to give back to WP Engine and the Austin community via the 2018 WP Engine Summer Intern Program and other organizations.
What is your role and key responsibilities at WP Engine?
Sr. Engineering Manager, Core Platform – we build the managed WordPress hosting cloud platform that is deployed to our ~8,300 instances at GCE and AWS. My job is growing people, helping teams, and building enterprise technology that helps our customers win online in a scalable, highly available, secure, and performant way.
What brought you to WP Engine?
I wanted to learn how to build distributed systems at massive scale, at ~4 billion requests per day WP Engine has that scale in spades, and I wanted to do so at a company whose culture and values tightly aligned with my leadership style.
How has your career evolved since starting at WP Engine?
I began at WP Engine as an Engineer Manager for 1 scrum team, which quickly became 2, then 3. Almost a year and a half later I’ve had 2 fantastic Engineer Managers join my team and help scale the Core Platform group to over 25 engineers in 5 scrum teams. The only thing more impressive than our company’s growth has been the growth of the individuals around me — every day our engineers invest in making themselves better.
What is your favorite thing about working here?
The people. At WP Engine I’ve had the luxury of working with some of the nicest, most talented, and intriguing people in my career. We rally around tough problems, pick each other up when we’re down, and advocate for our customers by living our core values.
What does Aspiring to Lead: Committed To Giving Back mean to you?
Our CEO Heather Brunner constantly says, “Leadership isn’t position or title, it is action.” Every day the WP Engine family sets into action a ripple effect of community service, open-source contributions, and technological empowerment through education. Whether it’s submitting a bug fix for WordPress Core or volunteering at our local food bank; part of our culture is acknowledging the fortunate successes we’ve had as a company and as individuals and spreading that around to our global community.
What is your role in the WP Engine R&D summer intern program? Why do you think the program is important for the individuals involved as well as for WP Engine as a company?
Myself and Sr. Director of Engineering Ryan Anderson led the 2018 program design & execution. The program is crucial to R&D at WP Engine for a few important reasons:
1. Getting Paid to Learn – 3 questions every IC gets asked during their 1:1s in R&D at WP Engine: Are you learning? Are you having fun? Are you prepared to bring a better engineer in the front door tomorrow? Allowing interns the flexibility to explore their curiosities while aligning their enrichment material with content that makes them better at solving our tough problems at scale is a recipe for success.
2. The Energy of Awe: Increasing your engineering team by 12% with college students for 10 weeks injects a youthful energy that drives everyone. The inquisitive nature of students seeking knowledge forces amazing things that help the entire team like a lead engineer unpacking the architecture a bit more during backlog refinement, a manager answering a ‘silly’ question that 3 other people had, or giving a junior engineer their first shot at mentoring.
3. Identify & Groom Top Talent Early: In the last 2 years, we’ve hired every graduating intern that was involved in our internship program. The reason is simple, both the student and WP Engine get 10 weeks to de-risk the hiring decision. Why wouldn’t we want to hire graduating students with talent, tenacity, and already know our stack?
What are the goals of the program?
This year’s program started out with a single mission, Teach the participates in the software engineering they won’t learn in computer science school. From there we expanded to provide an enrichment speaking track, embedded them into our scrum teams and assigned them meaningful work, sponsored an intern hackathon, and insisted they be held to the same automation, reliability, and quality standards we apply across the board for our full-time engineers. We wanted to give them a 10-week preview of what it’s like to be a real engineer and make sure they had an unbelievably positive & memorable experience.
What have been your favorite parts of the intern program?
For me, seeing the intrinsic motivation in action is always inspiring. Whether it was drilling down into problems to find the best answer, self-starting on team lunches, or editing their final presentation video — the amount of talent, aptitude, and “get it done” energy they brought to the teams was fantastic! They were fearless and inspiring.
What’s the best career advice you have ever received?
You need to be your own Chief Advocate Officer, don’t wait around for your career to happen to you or brood over your perception of unfairness — build long-term relationships with people you admire, set deliberate goals, and put a timeframe around execution.
What other organizations are you involved with at WP Engine? Why?
I am actively involved in facilitating our R&D mentorship program which allows anyone in the organization to work towards becoming an engineer in R&D and our Sheroes group whose mission is to inspire women in technology to own their paths to professional and personal successes.
Come Work With Us
WP Engine is currently looking for passionate individuals to join our Engineering teams at both our Austin headquarters and Limerick, Ireland. For more information, check out our careers page.
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