IC6 Principal Software Engineer
I deliver results against a strategic company-level business objective or key component of the EPD mission
Area of ownership and level of autonomy / ambiguity
Organizational reach and extent of influence
Technical levers typically exercised to achieve business impact
- I own and deliver org/company-wide multi-year, multi-team goals
- I take a multi-year, industry-leading perspective, ensuring that our products adapt to scale, usage, and/or business needs well beyond Dropbox’s current scope.
- I typically influence the technical strategy of a group. I am often partnering closely with Directors/senior EPD leadership to ensure the health of EPD as a whole and influence the overall direction of EPD
- I transcend organizational boundaries and proactively identify the best ways to leverage myself.
- Domain Expertise - I demonstrate a high level of depth in a particular platform or product category that brings unique business value.
- Technical Strategy - I align the technical strategy for several projects in my group to broader initiatives across EPD
- Product Expertise - I consistently influence product decisions/scope and determine the right technical tradeoffs to deliver customer value quickly with high quality.
- Innovation - I partner with cross-functional stakeholders to identify major new business opportunities unlocked by technical capabilities.
- I identify and execute on significant group/company-wide opportunities by understanding how technical capabilities meet customer needs. I proactively work with business owners to help them understand these new capabilities and work with them to build the right roadmap for the business.
- 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 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 know which levers to pull to drive meaningful results and understand the wider, cross-functional implications of my work
- I have a sense of responsibility and obligation to act on opportunities I see across the engineering org/company
- I transcend organizational boundaries by taking a holistic view of my group’s goals and taking responsibility across my group, not just within my immediate scope of ownership.
- 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
- 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 drive our products and tools forward
- I demonstrate creativity, e.g. by finding simple, generalizable solutions that open up or unblock new technical or business opportunities in unexpected ways.
- I create an environment supporting experimentation and iteration
- I partner with Directors and other members of senior EPD leadership to define a long-term vision for my group that factors in both a deep understanding of what is happening in the business and in the market as well as the technical limitations and possibilities of Dropbox’s software and systems.
- 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 significant misalignment
- 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 attract talent for a variety of roles with diversity in mind
- 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 selling, blog posts, public speaking)
- I model a standard of excellence that supports a culture of high performance on my team. I drive EPD-wide processes and define the bar for engineering-wide quality and best practices.
- I invest time to coach and mentor my teammates (particularly ones looking to grow into L5/L6). 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
- 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
- I act as a partner to managers in setting the cultural tone for the org. 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 senior EPD leadership 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 develop compelling messages and effectively present them at the executive level
- I fine tune my approach to getting buy-in and influencing stakeholders across a variety of audiences
Like Staff Engineers, I have a well-rounded set of technical skills and development methodologies, and apply them with a sophisticated approach that is best suited for each project. I design systems that are far from my previous experience, anticipating scale and scope beyond the current requirements at Dropbox or in areas otherwise unexplored. I make or participate in discussions around making sweeping technical choices that lack clearly correct answers, but am able to articulate the rationale and technical vision behind those choices. I partner with cross-functional stakeholders to identify major new business opportunities unlocked by technical capabilities.
- The expectations for code fluency do not go up beyond L3 (though some specialist engineers may go deep in this area)
- The expectations for software design do not go up beyond L5.
- I can design systems that require research on what is possible rather than relying on my past experience, and where, consequently, a significant portion of the challenge is designing an appropriately staged validation plan.
- I define the high level systems we need to build to meet strategic objectives
- I am responsible for making technical choices that have no one clearly correct answer but whose consequences have a sweeping effect across my scope in the organization
- I rally my organization around those choices by providing a clear rationale and technical vision backing them