Tech Lead 101: Introduction

This is the introduction to my series “Tech Lead 101.” Visit the table of contents for a full overview of what has been written so far.

I often get asked what a tech lead does, how to do it well, if you still get to write code, and more. So I decided to write a series to share how I approach being a tech lead and, more importantly, why that is the approach I take.

Before we dive in, this is an introduction after all, it’s worth giving some additional context on me. In the individual posts I’ll do my best to take a more company-agnostic approach, but it should provide someone useful background nonetheless.

I work as a tech lead at Monzo, which means that everything I write is from the perspective of tech-leading there. This has a few implications which strongly influence my approach and what is even possible.

  1. Engineering progression at Monzo is split into two tracks - the management track and the individual contributor track. Tech leads live on the individual contributor track and as such don’t have any line management responsiblities. We’ll talk about how this impacts how I work with engineers in my team.
  2. I’ve always worked in product teams/squads. The core Monzo experience is a mobile app, so most product squads will have both an iOS and Android engineer (we build natively on both platforms). All internal tooling for our amazing customer support staff is built in React, so backend engineers are expected to contribute to those appropriately. Core product teams working on this tooling will also have web engineers and over time I imagine others will too! This also means all squads I’ve worked with have had a product manager.
  3. You’ll probably see me use the term team and squad somewhat interchangeably. The smallest unit of delivery is a squad, it should contain all the skillsets needed to deliver the product experience and their key performance indicator.

In my time so far I have tech led our first overdrafts launch, our savings marketplace and am now tech leading Monzo’s paid account offering.

As with all things tech lead, the role can mean quite different things within different companies but also to different people. This series will cover the things I’ve seen work and the general approach I take. As with all things subjective, your mileage may vary. Please do feel free to reach out with thoughts or questions! (details here)

Before we dive in I’d like to quickly say thank you to Aless for her tireless editing on this series, you’ve really helped my message shine 🙏

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