João Alves

Dad. Husband. Engineering Manager @Adevinta. My main interest is to build and grow SaaS Products and Infrastructure teams. Twitter | LinkedIn | Mastodon
July 18, 2023

Unmasking hidden value: leading Cost Centers

Leading Product engineering, Platform, DevEx, or other internal teams is very different. One of them has high visibility with senior leadership and the executive team. They can even use the features you build! The other one often gets questioned by part of the exec team, and their leaders suffer to staff teams adequately and translate ...
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July 11, 2023

Making the bug fixes count. Or how to fix promotions in tech companies

Yesterday, I came across yet another article explaining how promotions work at big tech. At this point, it's no surprise to anyone that individual contributors and the management team prefer to work on "impactful" projects rather than polish a specific product, even if that's what their users are asking for. We know that promotions in ...
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July 4, 2023

The player, the coach and the president

In many conversations, people ask me: “Why did you get into a management position?”. I’ve answered countless times. The main factor was to help other people grow and succeed as a team. But it was also driven by poor management experiences, contrasting with what I read about how big tech companies (FAANG) were doing it. I started seeing...
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January 19, 2023

Bricks of Love: create purpose and engagement with weekly updates

In his book "Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us," Daniel Pink talks about "motivation 3.0", which comes after basic needs are covered ("motivation 1.0") and carrots and sticks ("motivation 2.0"). There are three main components in Pink's theory: • Autonomy to be in control of our destiny — how do we work? Is there a dr...
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January 13, 2023

Is this Hackernews material? How to write and distribute great content

That's the question I ask myself when writing an essay or peer-reviewing a blog post for someone else. If the answer is "No," I give feedback. I won't stop asking this question until I answer "Yes." Y Combinator's Hackernews (HN) is a great distribution platform where top technologists share articles and essays and comment on any submi...
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January 3, 2023

Antifragility: the secret sauce of high-performing teams

In his book "Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder," Nassim Taleb explains that the opposite of fragility is not just resilience or robustness but rather a property he calls antifragility. Antifragile systems not only withstand stress and disorder but improve and become stronger. That is in contrast to fragile systems, which brea...
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November 1, 2021

The manager-elevator

I first read about "servant leadership" in a job offer when I joined mytaxi (FREE NOW) back in 2018. They were looking for a "servant leader." I bit the bullet and changed my career from software development to engineering management. Before joining the company, I searched for books that more experienced folks in the industry recommend...
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May 23, 2021

Hiring, interviews and corporatism in tech

Each year there's an ongoing discussion about tech interviewing processes. It's almost like Christmas. Once a year, there we go. That's not new for experienced people in the sector, but it may surprise folks that work in other areas. Can they do the job? The software development industry is relatively new, and it's disconnected from mo...
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May 17, 2021

Hiring vs nurturing managers

Over the last few years, companies put a lot of effort and money into developing their engineering management teams: one-on-ones, yearly goal setting, feedback, coaching, and whatnot. I believe there are two primary reasons for such investments: 1. As software eats the world, there are more development teams. As organizations get bigge...
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May 9, 2021

Data-driven, optimization and local maxima

Working for a startup with less than 50 people is a life-changing experience. One grows way faster by being exposed to problems that, in big corporations, have departments that take care of them. Aside from that, usually, one works closer to the founders. That gives a good perspective on what it looks like to run a business from the gr...
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May 2, 2021

I could build this during the weekend

Every time people buy a new house, car, or TV, they say lovely things first. It's the honeymoon phase. Then, they realize their expensive, fancy stuff has flaws too. Engineers tend to take it one step further. We enter solution mode and start thinking about solutions for those flaws and how we'd design those items. We are so intelligen...
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April 25, 2021

The next ten years

The demand for Software development experts is still growing all over the world. Some people keep saying we live in a bubble, albeit salaries increased circa 10% Year-over-year during the last five years. Atop, there are two counterintuitive facts. On the one hand, people graduating from Computer Science schools or boot camps are highe...
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April 19, 2021

Internal Platforms

During the early 2010s, I was in college, and everyone in Hackernews was talking about two technologies: Ruby-on-Rails (RoR) and Heroku. I was lucky enough to have forward-thinking Professors. In most practical assignments, they didn't put constraints on languages or frameworks we could use. That allowed us to explore git, RoR, use Tre...
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April 11, 2021

On Hiring QA engineers

Yet another mobile application release halted due to a critical bug. It's time to stop the rollout and push a hotfix. If you're lucky, you may have a post-mortem. Otherwise, you may hear someone directly saying: "We need to invest more in Quality Assurance (QA). Let's hire QA engineers!". Suddenly, you have a whole QA department with 3...
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April 2, 2021

Disasters I've seen in a microservices world

When Martin Fowler's post about microservices came out in 2014, the teams where I worked were already building service-oriented architectures. That post and the subsequent hype made their way into almost every software team in the world. The "Netflix OSS stack" was the coolest thing back then, allowing engineers worldwide to leverage N...
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March 26, 2021

Go big, or go home! Or... the leadership paradox

We live in a World of change. Not only that, but due to technology's improvements, the pace of innovation increased dramatically in the last 50 years. For instance, before, we had a significant software version every year or two. Now, most software pieces update daily. Some of them, consumed as a service (SaaS), constantly get updates ...
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March 19, 2021

Dear CTO, remote will change your company forever

It's the new cool kid on the block. Everyone is talking about it. Everyone wants it, at least partially. Before COVID-19, all of us had some friends working remotely. Some of them were contractors. Others were working from all around the world for big Australian/American/Canadian companies. It seems that candidates are demanding this o...
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March 10, 2021

No one will negotiate for you!

When you're in the final phase of a recruiting process, you enter the negotiation phase. I'm not writing this post to talk about negotiations per se, but rather to demystify something I've heard a lot: “It's in the interest of recruiters to push for higher salaries for the offers they're managing. They get a chunk — usually 13-20% — ou...
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