Last modified on 5 March 2013, at 00:23

Job openings/Director of Features Engineering (Acting)

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Director of Features Engineering (Acting) [CLOSED]


The key responsibilities of the Director of Features Engineering are:

  • Increase Wikimedia's global mission impact by organizing the development of software features in accordance with product development priorities;
  • Ensure that features are developed consistent with the highest standards of usability, maintainability, reliability, and performance;
  • Support high quality, data-driven decision-making and the development of community acceptance, as well as the growth and health of the open source development ecosystem.

The Director will hire, supervise, motivate, mentor, develop and evaluate staff, ensuring that staff skills are appropriate to meet the organization’s goals. A significant number of staff will be individual contractors, many of them working remotely.

Located in San Francisco, the Director of Features Engineering will report to the VP of Engineering and Product Development and will work closely with other senior staff, volunteers and vendors that work for and with the technology group.

This is a roll up your sleeves, participatory organization, and staff and volunteer teams tend to form flexibly around projects. The Director of Features Engineering should be willing and able to act as an engineer and architect, collaborator, manager, strategist and tactical implementer.

Immediate Priorities

  • Ensure successful kick-off of feature development which directly affects new editor retention by supporting the team's inception and planning process and the deployment, measurement and iteration of relevant features;
  • Hire additional feature developers as per the 2011-12 financial plan;
  • Work with other engineering leaders to ensure an appropriately resourced code review, QA, deployment and release process across all MediaWiki development.
  • Support the search for the Director of Features Engineering candidate and the transition process.

Preferred qualifications

Candidates should have the following type of experience and qualifications:

  • 5+ years of experience in leading software engineering teams, ideally including background in supporting large open source communities.
  • Familiarity with engineering practices appropriate for web application development, including security practices, testing and QA, rapid deployment cycles, scaling and caching techniques, etc. Experience with complex applications leveraging a large number of heterogeneous software components.
  • A track record as an exceptional communicator who is able to convey complex concepts to people of differing levels of knowledge and experience in writing as well as verbally; experience preparing and making effective presentations to diverse groups large and small with different interests and priorities;
  • A strong background in the development of efficient, reusable and redeployable processes, systems and organization structures;
  • Demonstrated skills in engaging, motivating, coordinating and supporting communities, and in managing the sometimes chaotic and quasi-anarchic nature of free-thinking communities is important;
  • A BS or equivalent degree in computer science or closely related engineering field or equivalent experience, advanced degree preferred; strong structured project management experience, preferably in high transaction environments with heterogeneous hardware and software configurations; a minimum of 8 years experience managing complex projects.

Personal characteristics

The successful candidate should be:

  • A mission-driven individual with an understanding of, belief in and commitment to the societal benefits of freely-available information and of the free open source software movement; a passion for how these principles are important in the development of civil societies; an ability to communicate that passion;
  • An independent and open-minded individual who values and appreciates diversity, input and collaboration from various constituencies; has the ability to make unpopular decisions when necessary and explain them;
  • An inveterate listener and explainer, comfortable receiving input from many sources;
  • A strong manager who will advocate for the needs the features engineering department and the interests of our readers and contributors; a practical person who will deviate from ‘ideal’ solutions in order to gain some other benefit (lower cost, increased stability, increased functionality, greater flexibility, etc.); a hard worker with a high energy level; a “doer” with a willingness to work hands-on with other staff, community members and members of the management team;
  • Emotionally mature and self-reliant; someone who will thrive working in a small but growing team; an ability to tolerate a high degree of ambiguity, and to negotiate with people having sharply defined opinions while maintaining positive, respectful relationships;
  • A sense of humor.

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