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
Area of ownership and level of autonomy / ambiguity
Collaborative Reach
Organizational reach and extent of influence
Impact Levers
Technical levers typically exercised to achieve business impact
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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

trophy Results

Key Behaviors
  • 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

glowing star Direction

Key Behaviors
  • 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

deciduous tree Talent

Key Behaviors
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

rainbow Culture

Key Behaviors
  • 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 

owl 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.
Key Behaviors
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.