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Cover image for AMA with Allison McMillan, Head of Engineering at Forem
Allison McMillan
Allison McMillan

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AMA with Allison McMillan, Head of Engineering at Forem

Hi! My name is Allison. I'm the Head of Engineering at Forem. I've worn many hats in multiple industries including Director of Engineering at GitHub, software developer, managing director, and community builder.

I also started a podcast about being a parent in tech, Parent Driven Development and I'm the board president of Ruby Central. I'm an internationally recognized keynote speaker and I speak on a variety of topics including building interactive workshops for engineers, working remotely, and more.

When I'm not coding, you can find me encouraging my son’s climbing skills, being both proud and annoyed about my daughter’s sassiness, or pretending I have time to bake. I live in the Washington, DC area.

Top comments (7)

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cassidoo profile image
Cassidy Williams

Hey Allison! What has been the biggest adjustment for you moving from a large company to a startup?

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asheren profile image
Allison McMillan Ask Me Anything

great question to kick off with!! I think both large companies and startups have aspects that are fantastic about them. The biggest adjustment was taking processes that I felt worked really well at a big company but adapting them with my team to work at a startup. At a startup, there aren't as many people/places spanning across multiple departments, levels, etc. that need to be updated or looped in and so I've wanted to take the core problem that was being solved but make it lighter weight, more flexible, etc. for a different size and kind of company.

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liana profile image
Liana Felt

Hey Allison! Thank you so much for doing this πŸ™πŸ»

What advice would you give to new managers that are making the switch from IC to manager?

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asheren profile image
Allison McMillan Ask Me Anything

To think about ways to be more comfortable with a different cadence of feedback/"am I doing a good job?" vibes. As an IC, it can be a little more straight-forward to look at progress or success. You can close an issue, ship a feature, literally see the progress you are making towards completion. And if you're feeling like you're having a down day, you can often pick up a really small issue to get out the door for that little pick-me-up. As a manager, the cycles are longer. A lot of the tasks or goals you set in motion and don't actually know if they're successful or not for a little while. And it can be more difficult to find those feel-good quick-wins.

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o1lab profile image
navi

Hey Allison, What are your go to productivity tools at work and anything you feel is lacking or needs improvement in this space?

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asheren profile image
Allison McMillan Ask Me Anything

Productivity tools is one of my MOST FAVORITE TOPICS! In addition to being Head of Eng at Forem, I've got two kids... 7 and 4, and am involved as a board member for a few nonprofits, so finding time to fit in everything and also make sure that nothing is falling through the cracks is incredibly important. I wrote this post a few years ago and much of it still rings true, with a few added tools. I use my calendar (and calendly) pretty aggressively to block time and make sure every thing I have to attend is on there. I use OneNote to keep track of my to do list (which is organized by day of the week, weekend, future so that I can look at my schedule and filter in to-dos for each day based on what i'll have time to complete). I also do a few things "by hand". For example, we have a paper next to our front door with everything our kids need to get out of the house and we meal plan with good old-fashioned cookbooks and a piece of paper stuck to the fridge.

I'm not sure if there's anything lacking in this space. It feels like there's still some work to be done on having someone see multiple calendars (I have 4 calendars that feed into one calendar view, but if my partner is trying to book something for us, he can only see via my calendly what's busy or free vs. looking at my calendar to know what also may be moveable).

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wojtekxtx profile image
Wojtek X

Hey Allison! What made you join Forem core team?