There’s no one way to build a career as an engineer at Envato, but a new roadmap is helping aspiring technical leads from across the sector better plan their development.
Zuzanna Janiak is in a perfect position to reflect on the path aspiring engineers can take with their careers in the Australian tech sector. With almost two decades in roles such as software engineer, scrum master and engineering manager, Zuzanna says she was initially attracted to Envato by its values-driven approach and for the opportunity to be an Engineering Manager in the company’s Content team.
“I initially started out as the Engineering Manager for the CALM team – responsible for audio fingerprinting to match audio files across the Envato asset library – and subsequently the Atomic team, which oversaw the upload and management of photo, video and audio content. From there, I had the opportunity to be the acting Senior Engineering Manager.”
“But 2020 was a difficult year for everyone and after a lot of self-reflection and thinking about what I wanted to do with my career, I decided I wanted to return to a more technical role. After discussing my goals with my manager, he helped me organise a six-month secondment as an engineer in the team overseeing our Data Warehouse. The secondment went really well and my position was made permanent so I’m now a Lead Engineer in Data Platform.”
While Zuzanna’s transitions across roles over the last few years have been smooth, she explains that getting clear expectations for each role was essential to make that happen. “Where expectations were less clear it took longer to feel comfortable in each role,” she notes.
It’s this clarity of expectations that has been front of mind for the most senior engineers at Envato as the company looks to scale up and expand its technical workforce. While there is no shortage of work to be completed at one of Australia’s most successful startups, behind the scenes there has been an acknowledgement that more needs to be done to expand on, and highlight, how a technical career at Envato could look for engineers, architects, and managers of all skill levels.
“We want our current and future staff to more clearly understand the career opportunities for them,” says Sally Sadler, Senior People Partner. “That they can look at our organisation and know that we’re taking their career opportunities at Envato very seriously, allowing them to explore a career that could be both ladder and lattice in nature.”
This goal resulted in the development of Envato’s career map for technology roles at the business. Drawing inspiration from industry heavyweights such as Square, Amazon and Google, as well as fellow local creative success story Canva, the career map provides a visual representation of the pathways that exist and how they connect, providing easily actionable guidelines on how people can design and build their preferred technical career at Envato.
“Previously, progression and promotion pathways for our technology team weren’t clear,” reflects Simon Harris, Engineering Director for the Content team. “For example, the only meaningful way for an engineer to progress was to become a manager. And even though this is a fairly common problem for organisations like our own that have grown rapidly, it’s not an appropriate way forward for all staff.”
“It meant we had invisible barriers in our technical career pathways; there were limited opportunities within the management pathway, the architecture pathway was not well articulated, and there was ambiguity in the difference between a team-based and group-level Lead Engineers.”
This created a disconnect between Envato and established industry career pathways, leading to issues with pay transparency and methodology. The new career map counters this by providing clearer career pathways for Envato’s technology team in a way that is better aligned to industry practice, making it simpler to understand and easier to navigate.
“It’s now a living document and a key part of our broader technology team framework that promotes fairness and transparency, encourages and rewards excellence, and recognises specialties, experience, and contribution,” continues Simon Harris.
“What does a Senior Engineer see when they look up a career at Envato now? We want them to see pathways for their career progression that help them to align their aspirations with where their contribution makes the most impact. We no longer want technical staff to think that moving to people management is the only way to grow their career, nor is that the way to improve their salary.”
“There’s no such thing as a ‘natural’ progression, which is one of the reasons having a career map with clear expectations is so important.”
Sally Sadler agrees that the new, living document will help provide better opportunities for Envato’s staff across the board. “As we grow, we need to scale, and building a career map will help us provide opportunities for our people. This links directly to our employee framework including Connect, Grow, Appreciate and Thrive.”
It’s particularly important to Sally and the recruitment team charged with growing Envato’s engineering function, with the market for technical talent very active and contested, and the company’s previous edge in offering a remote-friendly workplace eroded by the working realities of 2020.
Reflecting on her own development pathway to now, Zuzanna Janiak says that the new career map will be a valuable addition for anyone contemplating a new role – or an evolution – at Envato. “The career map makes clear what is expected at each level, shows how different levels and tracks relate to each other, helping to remove bias and increase fairness. You can look at the career map and see your options and what you need to do to progress sideways or up. I really like that Management and Architecture are explicit parallel tracks to Engineering, making it clear Engineers don’t need to move into Management to progress in their careers and can instead move between the three disciplines.”
“Envato has been incredibly supportive of my development through these last few years. Formalising this into a career map is going to be a fantastic resource for all current and future engineers at Envato.”
You can access the career map below.