Dropbox Engineering Career Framework

IC4 Data Engineer

I autonomously deliver ongoing business impact across a team, data domain, or technical system

Scope Area of ownership and level of autonomy / ambiguity

  • I own and deliver semi-annual/annual goals for my team.
  • I am an expert at identifying the right solutions to solve ambiguous, open-ended problems that require tough prioritization.
  • I define technical solutions or efficient operational processes that level up my team.

Collaborative Reach Organizational reach and extent of influence

  • I am a strong leader for my team with my impact beginning to extend outside my team
  • I increasingly optimize beyond just my team by driving cross-team or cross-discipline initiatives

Impact Levers Technical levers typically exercised to achieve business impact

  • Technical Strategy - I play a key role in setting medium-to-long term strategy for business-impacting projects.
  • Project Leadership - I autonomously define and deliver technical roadmaps of larger projects, often involving cross-team dependencies.
  • Product Expertise - I actively keep customer needs in mind and leverage input from product stakeholders as available to determine the right technical solutions to deliver customer value quickly
  • Mentorship - I actively level up less-experienced members of my team by helping them with their craft, providing guidance, and setting a good example

Core Responsibilities

🏆 Results


  • I deliver many of my team’s goals on time and with a high standard of quality
  • My understanding of the business context and my team’s goals enable me to have the greatest customer impact and allows me to make independent technical decisions in the face of open-ended requirements
  • I can identify when my results aren’t moving the needle for our business/team goals or serving the needs of customers in a meaningful way and work with manager to redirect my focus
  • I get work to a simple place by focusing on the heart of the problem and prioritizing the right things
  • I improve how our team measures and communicates customer impact


  • I proactively identify new opportunities and advocate for and implement improvements to the current state of projects — potentially having broader business impact across teams or products
  • I take responsibility for my decisions, and failures on my project and take action to prevent them in the future. I embrace and share the learnings from those failures
  • When I encounter barriers, I unblock myself and my team by proactively assessing and eliminating the root cause, and focusing on the solutions
  • I respond with urgency to operational issues (e.g., SEVs), owning resolution within my sphere of responsibility
  • I actively seek out and eliminate sources of toil on the team and help reduce the impact of KTLO and SEVs
  • I am unafraid of declaring a SEV when needed
  • I proactively create and update playbooks for components I own

Decision Making

  • I make informed decisions by having productive debate with the right stakeholders, seeking diverse perspectives, balancing details with the big picture, and optimizing for the company
  • I understand the implications of my decisions and adjust my approach based on the impact and risk (e.g. choosing a more iterative approach based on the degree of uncertainty with respect to product fit, while maintaining a view of the long term arc needed to accomplish business goals)
  • I leverage insights about customers to inform decisions, balancing value for the customer with other business goals
  • I make timely decisions and don’t cut corners that would compromise my customer’s trust

🌟 Direction


  • I embrace change and adapt quickly to it
  • I remain resilient through change by staying calm under pressure and taking care of my well-being
  • I navigate ambiguity by focusing on the greater purpose, goals, and desired impact to move forward one step at a time


  • I have a growth mindset and am comfortable experimenting with new approaches, learning, owning the outcomes, and sharing what I learned
  • I set audacious goals, take risks, and share lessons learned
  • I am beginning to push boundaries using industry best practices and customer feedback to implement strategies that drive our products, tools, or services forward


  • I define the technical roadmap for impactful multi-phase projects, refining it as the projects progress to deliver customer value quickly, and provide leadership for the people executing on the project
  • In partnership with my manager I define my team's priorities and secure buy-in by engaging stakeholders, and aligning with company priorities and customer needs
  • I generate excitement for my/the team's strategy

🌳 Talent

Personal Growth

  • I proactively ask for feedback from my manager, team, and cross-functional stakeholders. I know my strengths, and identify ways to take actions on my development areas
  • I have self-awareness and connect with others with empathy
  • I drive discussions with my manager about aspirational goals and seek out opportunities to learn and grow (e.g., PGP, Dropbox-offered training, leveraging perks allowance etc.)

Team Development

  • I model integrity and a high standard of excellence for my work. I leverage this to set and hold the bar for quality and best practices for my team (e.g. via code and design reviews)
  • I identify and support areas of growth for my teammates that take into account their unique skills, strengths, backgrounds and working styles
  • I solicit and offer honest, constructive, direct, and actionable feedback that is delivered with empathy to help others learn and grow into the next level
  • I actively contribute to interviewing, and gain the trust of candidates and can represent Dropbox's mission, strategy, and culture throughout the interview process
  • I am able to represent my team’s technical challenges to potential candidates in a compelling way (e.g. 1:1 sell chats, blog posts, public speaking)

🌈 Culture


  • I promote and role model Dropbox core values, leading by example
  • I build relationships and drive coordination across teams & disciplines, helping get to positive outcomes
  • I proactively communicate and coordinate my team’s requirements with other groups and teams in engineering
  • I am effective at working with cross-functional stakeholders to identify technical blindspots and clarify ambiguity in their ideas.
  • I engage in productive conflict with thoughtful questioning and have the courage to state my point of view
  • I avoid blame and solve the right problems, disagreeing and committing when necessary to move decisions forward

Organizational Health

  • Working with my manager, I leverage the unique strengths & skills of the members of my team, and help identify talent gaps required for team success
  • I enable others to bring their authentic selves at work and contribute to building community at Dropbox
  • I ensure diverse perspectives are included, leveraging inclusive meeting practices
  • I practice the Dropbox Diversity Commitments on a regular basis
  • I champion good virtual first practices that help my team collaborate effectively
  • I help shape the Dropbox engineering culture through my involvement with activities outside of my team (e.g. presenting tech talks, participating in Eng RFCs, creating interview questions, planning hackweek)


  • I communicate with clarity, brevity, focus, and tailor my message to my audience presenting it at the right altitude
  • I proactively share information so the relevant stakeholders are informed and aligned
  • I am effective in holding crucial conversations even when uncomfortable
  • I influence stakeholders across a variety of audiences
  • I seek to listen and understand others

Culture Leader

  • I act as a partner to my manager in setting the cultural tone for the team. I support an environment of psychological safety where all Dropboxers are included and heard to support connection, empathy, and productive conflict where dissenting opinions are valued and addressed
  • I help my team network and build relationships across Dropbox, creating connection and inclusion across my team and with other teams

🦉 Craft

Code Fluency

  • The expectations for L3 code fluency are still applicable here (though some specialist engineers may go deep in this area)
  • I look for ways to simplify code and data models. I prioritize tasks that lead to lower data and system maintenance and migration costs with meaningful and measurable impact.
  • I can find ways to improve developer efficiency as measured by cycle time, ramp-up time, or other similar measurements.
  • I preemptively identify and resolve technical risks before they jeopardize the project. I resolve cross-team dependencies earlier to ensure the successful execution of the project.
  • I avoid re-inventing the wheel by leveraging other Dropbox solutions or off-the-shelf solutions with the possible trade-off in mind. I write modules and data models that can be extended and adopted by other teams at Dropbox to increase their efficiency.

Software Design

  • I am responsible for designing the software or systems required in my area of ownership and ensuring that they meet their design objectives.
  • I am able to give quality feedback on designs written by other members of my team, asking probing, insightful questions that solidify choices and surface erroneous assumptions
  • I effectively and quickly debug cross-module issues, and may intuit where bugs might lie due to my deep knowledge of the data models, platforms, and systems that my data models rely on

Architecture Design

  • I’m able to create coherent designs with multiple components interacting across interface or data pipeline task boundaries; bugs do not creep in at the boundaries between components due to mismatches in expectations of what is technically feasible; designs across data boundaries take into account performance, usability, and logical separation of data layers
  • I’m capable of rolling out a component, major feature, or complex data pipeline (and deprecating an existing system, feature, or data pipeline) reliably - including appropriate monitoring, paging, etc are in place, and that failure domains are understood and characterized appropriately before large scale rollout. For prototype capabilities or data models, I am able to roll out with an eye toward achieving learning goals untainted by poor quality.
  • I avoid introducing toil and future maintenance work by proactively avoiding scaling issues and providing adequate documentation.
  • I design clear success metrics and achieve those metrics consistently post-launch through the lifetime of the system, feature, or data pipeline.

Technical Strategy

  • I’m responsible for alignment of the software and data models in my team to overall technical and data strategy, making tradeoffs where appropriate in consultation with staff engineers

Business Acumen

  • I engage in listening sessions (All Hands, Quarterly Business Updates, etc.) to increase my learning and guide my work/priorities
  • I have a working knowledge of Dropbox’s org/team structure and how teams work together across Dropbox, and am able to help my team effectively collaborate effectively with other teams across our org