Dropbox Engineering Career Framework

IC5 Staff Reliability Engineer

I set the multi-year, multi-team technical strategy and deliver it through direct implementation or broad technical leadership

Scope Area of ownership and level of autonomy / ambiguity

  • I deliver multi-year, multi-team product or platform goals
  • I exhibit a very high standard of technical judgement, innovation and execution to tackle open-ended problems that require difficult prioritization, defining both the what and how of things to be done

Collaborative Reach Organizational reach and extent of influence

  • I am increasingly influencing the roadmaps of other Dropbox teams to achieve business impacting goals.
  • I exercise judgement that favors the priorities of the wider engineering org rather than favoring locally optimal outcomes

Impact Levers Technical levers typically exercised to achieve business impact

  • Domain Expertise - I demonstrate a high level of depth in a particular platform or product category that brings unique business value.
  • Technical Strategy - I excel at defining the vision for and delivering large business-impacting projects with multiple constraints
  • Product Expertise - I increasingly influence or make product decisions/scope and determine the right technical tradeoffs to deliver customer value quickly.
  • Mentorship - I serve as a role model for other Dropbox engineers

🏆 Results


  • I identify and execute on opportunities that have area/group-wide impact

  • I execute large projects to a very high standard — e.g. against a tight deadline with significant consequences of failure, or in a manner that allows rapid learning to clarify significant ambiguity, or to a standard of quality well exceeding that of the current system (though not all simultaneously)

  • I know which levers to pull to drive meaningful results and understand the wider, cross-functional implications of my work. I proactively account for risks and monitor their likelihood. My project planning accounts for new capabilities necessary to deliver large-scale business impact and I work closely with partner teams to prioritize the development of these capabilities.
  • I proactively identify and help to refocus my team's efforts when projects are off-course or not technically feasible and results aren’t moving the needle for our business/team goals or serving the needs of customers in a meaningful way


  • I have a sense of responsibility and obligation to act on opportunities I see across the engineering org/company

Decision Making

  • I have a holistic view of the engineering org and Dropbox’s goals and use my experience and judgment to make decisions optimized for the wider org, rather than my local project alone
  • I act thoughtfully and decisively in critical situations even when making challenging or unpopular decisions
  • I'm able to reach the right decision despite conflicting perspectives

🌟 Direction


  • When necessary, I am able to introduce change into the organization, help others understand the business case for change, and create excitement to drive adoption of the change


  • I push boundaries to generate and implement breakthrough ideas that aim to create new products or advance existing products and drive our tools forward
  • I create an environment supporting experimentation and iteration towards audacious goals.


  • I define a long-term vision for my team that factors in company-wide priorities as well as the technical limitations and possibilities of Dropbox’s software and systems. I inspire my team and cross-discipline stakeholders to work toward that vision
  • I anticipate challenges and am able to influence the technical direction of the team or org to execute on that vision even in the face of potential significant misalignment

🌳 Talent

Personal Growth

  • I proactively ask for feedback from those I work with and identify ways to act upon it
  • I have self-awareness about my strengths and areas for development
  • I drive discussions with my manager about aspirational goals and seek out opportunities to learn and grow


  • I am an active participant in the hiring process for senior candidates (for example, by participating in hiring committee, debriefs, etc.)
  • I gain the trust of candidates and can represent Dropbox's mission, strategy, and culture throughout the interview process
  • I am an effective partner to my manager and am able to represent my team’s technical challenges to candidates in an exciting way (e.g. 1:1 sell chats, blog posts, public speaking)

Talent Development

  • I am a role model for other Dropboxers and model a standard of excellence that supports a culture of high performance on my team
  • I invest time to coach and mentor my teammates (particularly ones looking to grow into L4/L5). I take into account their skills, backgrounds, working styles and solicit and provide thoughtful, constructive feedback to them.
  • I devote time to spreading my knowledge widely via talks, blog posts or written documentation
  • I participate in SPRiTEs calibration sessions by providing meaningful feedback to ensure fair and consistent decisions

🌈 Culture


  • I help break down silos within and across functions and influence others to reach the best outcome for Dropbox
  • I build deep cross-functional relationships, facilitate the right conversations, and settle disagreements by managing different viewpoints
  • I disagree and commit when necessary to move critical priorities forward

Organizational Health

  • I act as a partner to managers in setting the cultural tone for the team. I create an inclusive environment for others and ensure diverse perspectives are included
  • Working with my manager, I leverage the strengths & skills of the members of my team, and help identify talent gaps required for team success
  • I personify Dropbox's culture and values. I champion community building efforts and inclusion initiatives. I work in close partnership with the management team to ensure a healthy engineering org.
  • I lead by example. I am aware of my public presence and actions and my influence on the people around me and Dropbox’s culture


  • I tailor my message to my audience, presenting it clearly and concisely at the right altitude
  • I fine tune my approach to getting buy-in and influencing stakeholders across a variety of audiences

🦉 Craft

I have a well-rounded set of technical skills and apply them with a sophisticated approach that is best suited for projects with focus on reliability, sustainability, and efficiency. I am a master of designing simple, flexible, and reliable software components, enforce the quality of my team’s designs and provide quality feedback on designs of reliability objectives. I ensure my team’s work fits with the broader reliability strategy of the organization. I am called to design software or systems in the face of high reliability risks, significant ambiguity or a large number of dependencies, and my designs do not anticipate the maintainers to have my expertise. I work with cross-functional partners to discover novel technical solutions to business problems.

Systems Fluency

  • I fully understand the layers of the system and appropriate tooling for each one and know when to engage peers when my own knowledge isn’t adequate in one.
  • I deeply understand the systems at Dropbox and how to optimize the lowest levels of the systems and where this is appropriate.
  • I deeply understand and can improve multiple of the major systems utilized at Dropbox and are considered the expert on the systems.

Systems Design

  • I own the definition of the core reliability targets (SLO/SLAs) of Dropbox driven by my area of focus and identify the appropriate failure domains for the company.
  • I analyze patterns in incidents and identify improvements needed across Dropbox in how we operate and design software.
  • I own the core reliability of Dropbox and identify the appropriate failure domains for the company.
  • I make correct technology choices for components needed as part of a larger architecture, including making build vs buy choices for specific components, and choosing frameworks.
  • I am capable of owning the overall health and engineering quality of the systems in my area - e.g. surfacing reliability risks, driving regular health reviews, curating reliability strategy, etc - and ensuring that the health and maintenance of my systems do not depend on the maintainers having my expertise.
  • I am capable of driving overall reliability strategy of significant systems with high reliability or quality requirements.
  • I am capable of designing systems with significant ambiguity and/or lots of systems that depend on it.

Code Fluency

  • The expectations for code fluency do not go beyond L3 (though some specialist engineers may go deep in this area).

Technical Strategy

  • I am accountable for alignment of the software and systems in my area to overall reliability strategy, making tradeoffs where appropriate in consultation with principal engineers.