Principal Engineer

Principal Engineer

Core Competencies

  • As a principal engineer, you can own the entire lifecycle from customer to delivery. This involves many phases and we will discuss it in subsequent points. But one key metric is within a few iterations of initially working with a team - you can leave the team in such a state that it is auto-functioning and set up for success. These iterations could be a few weeks or months - depending on the size of the transformation/work etc.
  • You can be in front of the customer, present our point of view & offerings, understand the customer’s problems/ask and translate that into technology, team requirements, and a plan. Many times you will be faced with new technologies in the customer’s context, you can work your way through those by learning, doing quick POCs, and then arriving at requirements.
  • You can bootstrap a new team working closely with customers. This involves choosing the right combination of engineers on the team and setting early processes and pipelines and cadence. You also work on early design and architecture and divide those among the members of your team.
  • You get other team members involved for consultation or a small help as needed based on expertise, and experience and bring knowledge from outside that may or may not exist with you or the team.

Functional Competencies


  • You make decisions for your team and for customers in their consultation and think through what is best in a given problem statement, and you own those decisions and get better at this constantly.
  • You understand the balance between work, delivery, and business impact of it and you make a case for these things as needed.
    • For example, if you believe creating an open source project makes sense in a specific area, then you do all primary research, gather some stats in terms of investment and make a plan with potential returns and a long-term roadmap for it and present it to the executive team.
    • Similarly, you understand the impact of decisions around technology or the team you take on business and teams.
  • You can write high-level visions and directions of a project/product and direct a team into bootstrapping and getting execution started. Beyond initial execution, you are able to set a cadence to review progress and metrics to ensure successful execution.
  • You can lead the customer conversation on projects including design, and effort estimates and close the discussions and design closely by working with customers.
  • Customers & teams look up to you for your specific areas of expertise and depth and consult you in those areas.
  • Your ultimate management goal is to get to a stage where teams are self-sufficient and running smoothly and you don’t need to do any management per se.
  • You are actively involved in hiring people for your team’s needs from an internal pool and also involved in the interviewing process to find the right talent. You also don’t hesitate to move a team member out if the person is not filling the role in the right way or is not able to perform despite multiple feedback and working closely to improve their performance.

Delighting People

  • You are a bridge between engineers and the executive team of the company. You are able to understand and relate to their issues, solve what you can locally and make a case for the issues which need to be addressed at the org or unit level.
  • You love coaching people whether it is on a project where you are advising or a new batch of joiners with whom you are teaching the craft of software engineering.

Organization Building

  • You own and drive a few major initiatives which have an organization-wide impact and work across functions and teams to make things happen as part of those initiatives.

Social Capital

  • You actively run/majorly contribute to community-level activities and initiatives such as meetups and conferences - around your area of specialization.
  • You understand the work we at InfraCloud do and research on it and then present it via various channels such as conference talks, blogs, case study writing etc.
  • You are a known and helpful person in the community and you do this by building relationships with folks and generally paying it forward.

Behavioral Competencies

Enabling Traits

  • Operating in ambiguity: Most new customer conversations, requirements and projects’ initial stages are full of ambiguity. You are dealing with a set of unknowns and a set of variables. You have to have some sense of direction and constantly align and change as these unknowns emerge or variables change. You need to talk to people - including customers, your teams and others and find a path - in technical problems as well as others. This is one of the MOST crucial factors to your success.
  • Operating with limited resources: In an ideal world everyone had everything abundant and there were no trade-offs. But in the real world, most technical decisions and people’s decisions involve a tradeoff of some sort. You are used to dealing with trade-offs and making choices that make the situation work for the best impact.
  • Connected InfraCloud core values: Strive to Delight, Stay Ahead of the Curve & Be Resourceful

Broad Indicators

As a broad range indicator, your time and energies are roughly split in the following proportions.

Split of responsibilities in the role Core: ~50%
Management: ~10-15%
Delighting People: ~15-25%
Organization Building: ~15-20%
Social Capital: ~20-25%
Enabling Traits: We expect these traits to be demonstrated consistently in your role.
Approximate Tenure in this role
(This is not meant to be exact tenure - some people move up in half time and some take 100% more for example)
~4 year