In his essay “You weren’t meant to have a boss,” Paul Graham argues that humans evolved for hunter-gatherer-sized groups—eight being the ideal number. This implies that startups are the ideal place for programmers—the structure of large companies just prevents you from getting much done.
Graham’s essay is joined by many authors critiquing the scale of modernity. James C. Scott’s "Seeing Like a State" notes how 1800s bureaucrats attempted to impose process on the land, planting the single fastest growing tree species in a grid—and were met with rampant forest fire and disease.
These authors make an excellent point. You can get a lot done as an eight-person team (Mercury launched with a team of nine), and imposing too much structure can be fatal. At the same time, the tension these authors ride up against is that scale has clearly won out: Graham’s Y Combinator now employs over 80 people, and the best permaculturist can’t compete with modern tree farms.
As the VP of Engineering at Mercury, your job will be to carefully balance this tension as you lead your team of 150 engineers, reporting to our cofounder and CTO. You’ll help maintain morale and attract and retain top talent, be it via your interpersonal skills or by creating meaningful career opportunities. You’ll also help us build great software products that delight our users. More specifically, here’s what we expect you to work on in this job:
- Develop and lead a team of great engineers and engineering leaders overseeing Mercury products like Banking*, Growth, and Risk.
- Create processes, frameworks, and tools for the engineering organization to operate predictably and consistently, like improving our engineering leveling guide, or develop a method for how to handle if an engineer isn’t performing well.
- Establish a sense of urgency and direction, setting clear expectations with teams and individuals in alignment to business goals.
- Maintain a strong operational excellence mindset with the engineering department, suitable for the correctness and quality of financial products.
- Foster an environment where engineers can deliver products that are a joy to use.
- Be a trusted partner to our founders and leaders across other departments, especially design and product, collaborating to build lovely products that achieve business goals.
- Give high-level input on technical decisions, such as the tradeoffs between acquiring a company or building technology in-house
And here are some traits we think would be helpful for the job:
- Experience managing engineering managers and owning the delivery of a rapidly improving and expanding product.
- Expertise scaling an organization to hundreds of engineers.
- Excellent communication: much of the work you do will involve writing documentation that explains and justifies how the engineering organization can function better, and talking to engineers to get buy-in for your ideas
- Product skills both in instincts for what makes a product great, and using data to develop the right products.
- Fintech experience is a plus, but not essential.
- Haskell or functional programming experience is a plus, but not essential.
As a VP, you would have extremely wide scope over the possible things you might end up working on. However, we anticipate these being areas you'd be working less on:
- Solving major architectural issues. Mercury doesn't have the looming technical issues of a social network bucking under exponential growth; things by-and-large work correctly. You should still be an excellent engineer, to better collaborate with your coworkers.
- Bringing a large number of engineers with you. You’ll definitely be involved in the hiring process, but you can be a great candidate for this role without personally having a wide social network.
- Managing non-product engineering groups, which work on training, infrastructure, developer user experience, and security, and which compose around 15% of the engineering organization. We think the most leverage for you is in the product engineering domain, but we’re flexible if you think you’re a good fit for some of this work.
Candidates are highly encouraged to check out our demo at https://demo.mercury.com
*Mercury is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services provided by Choice Financial Group and Evolve Bank & Trust, Members FDIC.
The total rewards package at Mercury includes base salary, equity (stock options), and benefits.
Our salary and equity ranges are highly competitive within the saas and fintech industry and are updated regularly using the most reliable compensation survey data for our industry. New hire offers are made based on a job candidate’s experience, expertise, geographic location, and internal pay equity relative to peers.
Our target new hire base salary ranges for this role is the following:
- US employees (any location): $350,000 - $400,000 USD.