Leadership Voices: Ashu Agte on How to Build a World-Class Engineering Function
Ashu Agte is a seasoned software engineering leader who joined WELL Health in April as the organization’s new SVP of Engineering.
I love the energy and challenge of working with startups, which is why I feel so fortunate to join WELL Health. While I’ve recently been working at a large business following an acquisition, my background includes helping to build three consecutive startups to successful exits. I recently felt the pull to get back into the exciting startup space, and I’m thrilled to answer that call by joining WELL.
As I jump back into the startup world for the fourth time, I wanted to reflect on what I’ve learned about building a diverse, empowered engineering function. What kind of empowerment models need to be created in the organization in order to not just scale the software, but scale the engineering function itself?
Of course, every engineering leader is going to say they want to partner with the organization to create a world-class engineering team. But I’ve found that it’s important to have a clear vision for what that really means in a hyper-growth environment.
Everyone must feel like they have ownership over the decisions that are being made. They also need to be able to feel free to try things without fear of failure – this is essential for innovation.
When teams have this kind of agency, it creates a pride and sense of true ownership that promotes enthusiasm and excitement in the team. True agency is highly motivating, and motivated teams simply do better work!
As we scale the software and the engineering organization, we also need to define our bar for excellence moving forward, and hold ourselves accountable. That includes elevating our practices and how we get things done, not just the technology and quality of the end product.
The last and perhaps most important piece is culture, which is the glue that holds it all together. Culture is what keeps us moving forward even when our work is challenging. Every company will have its ups and downs, but through it all we must remain dedicated to sustaining a truly outstanding culture in order to meet our ambitious goals as a team. It’s an implied contract between all the members of a team, and when done right, great things can happen.
I’m excited to bring what I’ve learned about building a great engineering team to WELL Health, a fast-growing company with ambitious tech and innovation goals. I’m confident that we will play a key role in engineering solutions that help power the rise of the patient and make healthcare #1 in customer service.