Dropbox Engineering Career Framework

M5 Senior Engineering Manager

I manage significant complexity with skill to deliver multiple major workstreams simultaneously in service of the overall business, and our customers

Scope Area of ownership and level of autonomy / ambiguity

  • I confidently guide the strategy and execution of one or more teams in my area across multiple projects or workstreams on six to twelve month time horizons.
  • I drive impactful outcomes in the face of significant organizational and technical ambiguity and change.

Collaborative Reach Organizational reach and extent of influence

  • I am a strong partner to related teams, and cross functional partners within my group/org with the ability to influence without authority.
  • I am increasingly optimizing globally for the wider org, and driving cross-engineering or cross-functional initiatives to impactful outcomes outside my normal area of scope.

Impact Levers Organizational levers typically exercised to achieve business impact

  • I drive business outcomes through expertise in engineering management as well as through strong relationships, sideways management and cross functional influence.
  • I guide my teams to impactful results by setting strategy that is aligned with the org, business, and customer needs.
  • I create an environment that empowers my teams to deliver a high level of impact by building, organizing, and motivating well-balanced, diverse teams with a strong sense of belonging.

🏆 Results


  • I plan for and execute on multiple impactful projects, work streams and teams
  • I identify new opportunities for my team to execute that the most customer, org or company-wide impact
  • I refocus my team's efforts when results aren’t moving the needle for our business/team goals or customers in a meaningful way
  • I know which levers to pull to drive meaningful results and understand the wider, cross-functional implications of my team's work
  • I am responsible for ensuring that results do not come at the expense of long term growth, retention, or psychological safety
  • I improve how our team/org measures and communicates customer impact


  • I have a sense of responsibility, and obligation to act on opportunities I see across my org
  • I create an environment where my teams can learn from failures to drive better business outcomes
  • I unblock myself and team by addressing, and eliminating the root cause by focusing on solutions, including implementing process and scale improvements
  • I am accountable for inspection, oversight, and pruning of the portfolio of projects within my domain and hold managers reporting to me accountable for delivering the results needed by the organization

Decision Making

  • I make informed decisions by consulting the right stakeholders and balancing details with the big picture
  • I am able to leverage insights about our customers to help inform my decisions, balancing the value for the customer with other business goals
  • I am able to reach the right decision despite conflicting perspectives and act thoughtfully and decisively
  • I ensure that investments are appropriately prioritized across my portfolio of projects

Operational Excellence

  • I set goals, objectives, and identify key metrics at the right altitude, and hold my team(s) accountable for progress against them
  • I run efficient processes and operational cadences, leveraging appropriate asynchronous and synchronous methods, to get to the right outcomes
  • I ensure that appropriate information is disseminated within my team
  • I build healthy partnerships with stakeholders, and teams with whom my teams have long-lived relationships
  • I support my team in maintaining their well-being and respect work/life boundaries in line with Dropbox’s virtual work practices

🌟 Direction


  • I am a calming influence on my team in times of change, and uncertainty
  • I coach my team to navigate complexity, and ambiguity
  • When necessary, I am able to introduce change into the organization, and guide my team accordingly


  • I champion bold, creative, and innovative approaches for my team, and lead them to generate solutions that aim to deliver better results
  • I set audacious goals for my team, encourage them to take risks, and share lessons learned
  • I have a growth mindset and am comfortable enabling the team to experiment, learn and own the outcomes

Strategy and Change Management

  • I communicate company and functional updates and decisions in a way that creates context, understanding, and alignment for my team
  • I define the strategy for my team in alignment with stakeholders, company-wide priorities, and customer needs
  • I define the roadmap to execute on that strategy and inspire my team, and cross-functional stakeholders to work toward that strategy
  • I resolve misalignments with stakeholder, teams and cross-discipline partners with differing goals
  • I think and articulate strategy over long time horizons. I am able to think broadly and cross-functionally about areas outside of my teams’/org’s primary responsibilities

🌳 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 take actions on my development areas
  • I connect with others with empathy
  • I drive discussions with my manager about aspirational goals, and seek out opportunities to learn and grow
  • I invest time in being a better manager and leader

Team Development

  • I foster the career growth of my team members by taking into account their skill, and career goals through coaching, on-the-job experiences, mentoring, and internal mobility. I give opportunities to work on next-level assignments that demonstrate readiness for promotion when appropriate
  • I have a strong pulse on my team's engagement, and a proactive retention strategy

Hiring and Talent Management

  • I attract and hire diverse talent across a broad range of backgrounds, experiences, locations and strengths, keeping in mind the long-term health and success of my org and/or teams
  • I am actively involved in interviewing and assessing senior candidates and I ensure my team(s) are calibrated and conducting interviews. In addition, I am increasingly getting involved in hiring initiatives and potentially a member of hiring committee
  • I build strong relationships with candidates and can represent Dropbox's mission, strategy, and culture throughout the interview process
  • I set clear expectations for my team, and hold them accountable for performance expectations and take different approaches to motivating high performers and turning around low performers
  • I actively participate in or lead some cross-org initiatives that improves processes, people experiences, and technologies for a broader set of people than my reports
  • I work to ensure that everyone is well leveraged by leading through other people managers, mentorship and sponsorship and by finding opportunities for those who are under leveraged.
  • I can guide and grow both managers and senior ICs, helping them advance their careers by finding them highly-leveraged roles within the organization

Organizational Design

  • I structure my team so the right people are in the right roles with clearly defined responsibilities, and expectations. I ensure projects are staffed appropriately to set them up for success, placing my strongest technical leaders where they are the most needed and impactful
  • I increasingly think in terms of the broad organization, rather than treating it as a collection of individual teams
  • I plan for long-term headcount and recruiting needs to guarantee the long-term success of my organization and/or team(s)
  • I create sustainable processes, reward systems, and people practices to ensure my team’s long-term success

🌈 Culture


  • I help break down silos within and across functions and influence others to reach the best outcome for Dropbox, regardless of my level/title
  • I build deep cross-functional relationships, facilitate the right conversations, and settle disagreements by managing different viewpoints
  • I avoid blame and solve the right problems, disagreeing and committing when necessary to move critical priorities forward
  • I have a holistic view of the org, customer insights, and Dropbox’s goals that I champion, using my experience and judgment to optimize for the wider org rather than locally to my teams.

Organizational Health

  • I enable others to bring their authentic selves everyday and contribute to building community at Dropbox
  • I remove barriers to inclusion for my team and ensure diverse perspectives are considered and included. I work to elevate existing standards while coaching my reports on how to do the same
  • I practice vigilance in surfacing cultural issues that might not be explicitly raised to me. I proactively solicit feedback from my team on culture and leverage tools at hand (e.g. Pulse, Soapbox) to gain deeper insight into my team
  • When I become aware of any lapse in my team’s culture, I communicate and work with my leadership team follow through on plans to correct and prevent recurrence of the lapse
  • I practice the Dropbox Diversity Commitments on a regular basis


  • I communicate with clarity, brevity, focus, and tailor my message to my audience, and listen to understand others
  • I write crisp narratives to create understanding, influence others, and enable effective decision-making
  • I proactively share information and decisions made so my team and relevant stakeholders are informed and aligned.
  • I hold crucial conversations even when they feel uncomfortable, and I listen to and seek to understand others

Culture Leader

  • I create an environment of psychological safety to support connection, empathy, and healthy conflict
  • I hold team members accountable to actions that uphold Dropbox core values and support our community
  • I help my team network and build relationships across Dropbox, creating connection and inclusion across my team and with other teams

🦉 Craft

Business Acumen

  • I stay current on Dropbox’s business, product, customers, and competitive market
  • Dropbox’s strategy and business priorities inform my and my team’s priorities
  • I have a working knowledge of Dropbox’s org/team structure and how teams work together across Dropbox

Software Design

  • The expectations for software design does not go beyond M4 (though some specialist managers may go deep in this area)

Architecture Design

  • I’m capable of reviewing the overall health and engineering quality of a system or collection of features - including requiring regular health reviews, reviewing key metrics, test strategy and ensuring that the health and maintenance of my organization's systems

Technical Strategy

  • I hold my team accountable for alignment of the software and systems in my area to overall technical strategy, making tradeoffs where appropriate in consultation with staff and principal engineers