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Prioritising Team Happiness: Interview with Engineering Manager at N-able

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One of my personal goals as an engineering manager is to have my teammates happy with what they do and how they spend their working hours. We spend half of our active day at work,  so, let’s have some fun while supporting each other and our partners – says Irina Petrushenko, Engineering Manager at N-able.

POLISH VERSION

What did your career path look like? What led you to where you are now?

Irina Petrushenko

I started my career as a Software Engineer more than 8 years ago. The first job I had was on a project with C++ as a main language, but it also required other skills and knowledge with networking, Unix systems, different databases and even node.js. This was when I fell in love with engineering.

Over the next 4 years, I continued my engineering path with N-able (at the time I joined it was SolarWinds, and N-able has now spun out as a standalone business). It was my first time working at a product company where everyone has one goal and culture!

The team was really supportive when I joined and I was able to develop, gain more responsibility, and acquire deeper knowledge. In general, I believe understanding the flow of your tasks is not only essential to grow, but also fascinating and gives you a broader vision on how, why, and what you are doing. This gave me a chance to learn additional skills, like DevOps, processes setup, UX, and more. 

Having an interest in multiple fields created a desire to step into a team leadership role. After having career conversations with my leader and looking at business needs, we decided to change my role to cover team lead responsibilities. I could grow in different directions – technical maturity, technical leadership, architecture, DevOps, management, and in particular, I discovered I was interested in helping improve all functions and organizational setup.

Within a year, I was able to successfully display my team lead skills and as our organization continued to grow and change, I was able to grow too. I have since been promoted to an engineering manager role, which has even more responsibilities, and this is where I am now – working with a team of engineers and striving to N-rich Lives together.

How did you find a job at N-able? What convinced you about the company?

N-able was leading C++ conferences and extending the C++ community. I was attending almost all of the events as I believe conferences and other external resources help you broaden your knowledge.

When the time came and I was ready for a new journey, I found an opportunity at N-able to join the team of experts. I had several more offers from other companies as well, so of course I was afraid to make the wrong choice, as choosing the next company is not only about the business, but also about the surroundings, values, experience, and culture – and it will influence your life drastically. 

Since day one I have been happy that I chose N-able. We are working in a friendly, and at the same time, professional atmosphere with open discussions and challenging tasks. Everyone is engaged and thinks not only about the execution of the task, but also about the ways to improve themselves and the business. For me, this is an ideal environment to grow, improve and live my best life 🙂

Tell us, please, about your company. What does N-able do?

N-able is a software product company that provides remote monitoring and management (RMM), data protection, and security solutions for managed service providers (MSPs) and IT departments. We offer a suite of software tools that allow MSPs to monitor, manage, and help secure their clients’ IT infrastructure, including servers, workstations, and network devices, from a single platform. Our RMM solutions provide real-time monitoring and alerting for issues such as hardware failures, security threats, and software updates. The platform also offers automation capabilities that allow MSPs to automate routine tasks and improve their efficiency.

Here in Poland, we are mostly working with the Cove Data Protection product, which delivers data protection as a service. It provides a comprehensive platform for MSPs to manage the backup and recovery process, allowing them to automate monitoring of the status of backups and continuous restores in real-time. The solution is designed to be easy-to-use, making it accessible to our customers of all sizes, and it provides a range of backup and recovery options to suit different clients’ needs. Overall, this helps customers ensure that their clients’ data is protected and recoverable in case of a data loss or disaster.

What do your daily duties at N-able look like?

One of my personal goals as an engineering manager is for my teammates to be happy with what they do and how they spend their time at work. We spend half of our day at work, so, let’s have some fun while supporting each other and our partners!  

I am fortunate to work with a team of great people. We are constantly in touch, closely collaborating and improving ourselves and our products. Each day, I work with engineers in order to guide and help them in the best way possible so we can build great products together. 

Additionally, one of my daily duties is to find process improvements and make a change for the better. To try to find opportunities to be more efficient, I use not only my on-the-job experience, but I am still a fan of reading books and attending conferences on management topics as well. Talking, listening, and reading other opinions will develop your knowledge significantly. I feel that it is my duty – continuous improvement everywhere: for our team, business, and myself.

What do you like most about your job?

I enjoy the ability to solve complex problems and drive changes within the team and organization. 

For example, imagine you have a task to make the release process flow faster. To solve such problems, you have to think differently and use your expertise and research to make an improved process structure. Starting with the structure of your organization, ownership, and architecture (Convey law is everywhere) till technical debt with test automation, CI/CD and software architecture. It is all related to your release process. Making a change to any of these areas can take a huge amount of resources, so you have to be really creative to achieve your goals. What’s more, it is impossible to do it alone! You have to find interested people and even create several communities across the organization to work as one big team. This is fascinating!  I love coming together with the team to drive something really cool 🙂

Can you point out any disadvantages or biggest challenges of your job?

Usually, the biggest challenge is to do something completely new that you have not done before. Today this interview is a challenge for me because it’s new! 🙂 But all jokes aside, we are growing and changing fast, there are plenty of things to do like find top talent, build high-performing and friendly teams, and continuously evolve all together – this will only continue to make N-able better and better.

What values does N-able particularly support? What is your work culture like, what is most important to you?

N-rich Lives, N-spire Others, N-joy the Journey. Simple and easy to remember! I like these values, because they align with my personal views. We N-rich Lives when we create great products, we N-spire Others around us to spread our passion, and the best part is that we N-joy the Journey and what we do every day. 

We also have a culture of belonging. We are all different, with different backgrounds, experiences, and opinions, but diversity, equality, and belonging is what makes us even stronger by adding more perspectives and creativity in the team. All N-ablites will be respected and your voice will be heard. It is important for me to know that I am treated equally and I’m happy to say that has been my experience at N-able. 

What exciting engineering challenges do you face? What are you currently working on?

We are in the process of big engineering changes and this is exciting as everyone in the team has a lot of opportunities to grow taking on some new challenges or responsibilities.

To give you an example, we are creating new architecture with micro-frontends and there are plenty of things here to think about, like new architecture split-up, new testing approaches, ownership, release processes and so on. Anyone from the team can get involved and make a real change.

Changes in the architecture also affect QA activities. So, we will need to reinvent the automation tests pyramid, update test processes, and even change the test management system.

All of the services are developed with scalability and resilience in mind. We employ the most modern approaches and technologies to provide all of this, like AWS solutions, Kubernetes, Cloud Native approaches, DDD architecture and many more. On the platform team we have performance critical parts, like those with 5000 requests per second and we have to provide maximum level of stability and reliability here. Over the last two years, the Microsoft 365 backups system has seen continual growth. This means we have to constantly rethink and update our architecture, which is a creative and exciting task for our engineering team. We also have a lot of work for those who like working closer to operation systems, different plugins we backup, like VMs, databases, integrations with cloud providers and so on. 

I can honestly say, we always have and will have a lot of new challenges with new pieces of architecture to be added to the system and it is a chance for all of us to dive into something new and get more experience.

Who are you currently looking for? What do you pay attention to when looking for new candidates?

First of all, we are looking for “Culture N-hancers” with a passion for the job who are seeking new challenges and are ready to N-rich Lives with us.

During the interview process we want to make sure, both our expectations, our candidates’ expectations and goals align. That is why we encourage all candidates to  ask questions. In short, we treat an interview process as a two-way street, it is not only for us to learn about a candidate’s skills and experience, but it is also for them to get to know us, what we do and how we do it.

In the technical part of the interview, we are mostly trying to understand a candidate’s knowledge and ask questions based on the candidate’s experience and our expectations for the role. We want to get to know people, their approach, their problem-solving skills and what’s more – we want to understand their thought process.

Of course, we do have some particular requirements in terms of technical skills for each position, which simply comes from our general tech stack and work environment. I would encourage all the potential candidates to speak with the recruiter on the details.

And also, if you are interview with us, remember to just be yourself!


Irina Petrushenko. Engineering Manager with a great passion for empowering people in the team, product success and Engineering practices improvements. One of her goals is to build clear and strong connection between business and engineers, so that everyone is engaged and has an opportunity to bring up ideas and work effectively in both directions.

Od ponad ośmiu lat pracuje jako redaktorka, dziennikarka i copywriterka, a od niedawna dba o treści oraz rozwój portalu poświęconego branży IT. Autorka wywiadów, tekstów eksperckich, newsów.

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