2 years at Spot AI: Key lessons learned

A reflection on the past 2 years at Spot AI

This week (while I’m on vacation, woohoo!) I’m hitting 2 years as an engineering leader at Spot. As I just went through performance reviews with most of my team face-to-face prior to heading out on vacation, reflecting on my own time here at Spot was very top of mind. I thought I’d do a little 2 year recap and my biggest takeaways for a light newsletter while I’m away.

I’ve worn many hats in the 2 years I’ve been at Spot: managing a single team, managing all of Engineering (2 teams), splitting those 2 teams into 3, hiring a bunch of engineers, going back to managing a single team, opening our first international office in Poland, and now I’m managing that same engineering team as well as our newly formed IT team. I currently have 10 direct reports and 0 managers (so I’m essentially a line manager with a Director title) but that’s life at a startup.

I’ve certainly had my high highs and low lows, several existential conversations with my husband about the work I’m doing and my place here at Spot, and while it has certainly been a bumpy ride as many startups are at this stage, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Reflecting back on my decision to go from running my own agency and co-founding a fintech startup to joining Spot, I know it was the right move for me. We fear that changing roles or shutting down your own company is a sign failure, but that entrepreneurial spirit lives on whether I’m running my own company full-time or applying my learnings as an entrepreneur to a company where I’m not on the executive leadership team.

To round this out, I’d summarize my 2 years here at Spot with the following lessons learned:

  • You need to prioritize ruthlessly. There will never be enough time to get everything done. How you frame this is key. You can’t put out every fire, so which fires are at most risk of spreading? My tone absolutely changes here under significant amounts of stress. I remember myself once saying “Each week I decide which balls I’m going to drop” which is starting my week off on a negative note - now I’ve reframed that with “if I can’t do everything, let me pick 1-2 things I must get done this week for it to be a successful week, and let me prepare a list of the things I know I will not be touching (my “won’t do” list).

  • At a startup your job title doesn’t really mean anything. You do what’s needed, and you learn along the way. How others see you at the company and externally does have meaning, though, which I have unfortunately seen as a woman in tech even at Spot. It’s not exactly prevalent within the organization, but externally I have most definitely seen varying levels of respect based on my job title. At this point I just accept it for what it is.

  • Process is 100% worth investing time and effort into for your team. I’ve changed the way I run my team(s) quite a bit over the course of the past 2 years depending on what the team needed at a given time. A “growth at all costs” season will look very different from a season of efficiency, and you’ll likely need to change as you go.

  • You’re never going to stop learning, and you’re never going to feel caught up. I consider this to be such a blessing with the work I do. I’ve been thrown into the fire working with technologies I never would’ve considered working with, and I’ve been asked to be the subject matter expert on topics I had never seen hours before a meeting. You learn as you go, you do the best you can, and you note down what you need to figure out afterwards.

  • Build relationships as much as you can outside of your direct organization. Engineering often lives in a silo with Product being the bridge between Engineering and the “outside world”. Break down barriers where you can and build relationships with AEs, SEs, TSEs, CSMs, and all the other acronyms that exist within an organization. (That’s Account Executive, Sales Engineer, Technical Support Engineer, and Customer Success Manager, FYI.)

I’m grateful for my time here at Spot so far and I can’t wait to see what the next year has in store!


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