Recently, Eunjoon Cho, one of Fast’s Directors of Engineering, shared his thoughts on why he left Meta (formerly Facebook) to join Fast. Today, we dive deeper into his management philosophy, his career path, and advice for engineers thinking about management.
You started as an intern at Google…
I saw someone talking online about a project they were working on I had experience with, so I emailed him and he set up some interviews. I really enjoyed my time there; machine learning was taking off, new AI and neural networks in 2013 were trending.
Other big companies really define your roles. Google lets you make the tools; it’s an engineering-focused company. I learned so much there. The great thing they had – it’s the status quo now – is the monorepo. Being able to see how absolutely everything works there was very freeing.
From there, I knew my career would be in startups. My goal was to build things.
Eventually, I started my own venture. When it didn't work out, I went back to employed work, which is how I ended up at Meta. I liked Meta, but I wanted to think more freely on what could be.
Eighteen months later, I stumbled upon Fast, which really pressed my buttons: a startup, its culture, and building from 0->1. I reached out to Domm (Holland, Fast CEO and Co-Founder), met with a few other people, and quickly joined.
I love the feeling of creating from scratch: setups, problems, products, and teams. That feeling of accomplishment is so special; I wanted to live that experience – and startups like Fast provide that.
How much of your path was deliberate versus organic?
It was all organic. I never said, “I want to be a Director of Engineering within five years.” I can’t predict two weeks out, let alone five years. My career, like life, is one step at a time.
At Google, the manager I looked up to left, and in a situation many engineers reading this will understand, I suddenly became the most senior engineer there. I was helping the junior ICs. I enjoyed it and was good at it, so after some discussion with other managers, I became a technical lead manager. I gained deep knowledge in leading and influencing; setting examples versus expectations.
Management for engineers is often framed as paper-pushing versus coding, but I think that’s an oversimplification. You can enjoy both, but the success comes from the job you do, not your title.
What do you like most about management?
Everyone has a place they can grow and expand – it's a magical and fulfilling moment when the people I'm working with can find ways to multiply their impact.
Tell me about your management style.
I try to personally drill in the sense of ownership. It’s not about being told what to do or being micromanaged. We have to ensure things progress, and that we communicate, so I give as much space and ownership for individuals as I can, balanced with accountability. I’ll align with you on the high-level goals, stakeholders, and decisions you have to make – but the rest is up to you to drive and implement.
Did your work as an engineer inform your management style?
I had a lot of responsibilities as a kid, and was accountable a lot – so my upbringing may influence it. But I don't think it matters where you’re working; I personally believe you should have ownership over what you’re responsible for.
Here at Fast, you really can implement it at all levels, simply by empowering people.
How can an engineer know if management would be a good path for them?
We designed our Fast tracks to accommodate your growth how you want it to go.
We have staff engineers, tech leads, and individual contributors who all have amazing, deep influence and impact here and entering the management path is one of many paths to have impact at Fast
Titles do not equal success, influence, or prestige here. We all mentor, collaborate, influence, and solve problems. Nobody is better than anyone else here. Everyone has a voice.
So it’s important to have good people skills – that includes conflict resolution. Accept that it’s not always fun. And you may spend less time coding because you are now spending time supporting people’s growth versus directly building projects.
All Fast leaders (managers and tech leads) earned their positions because they were already keeping plans on track and handling issues without waiting to be told. They communicate with stakeholders well. They take internal ownership and responsibility.
So, what’s your manager doing for you that you could be doing? If you’re proactive about working on your tasks end to end, and driving things to completion, you will be given more opportunities and take on more responsibilities.
Take care of yourselves. You’re spending a big chunk of your life doing this with people that should mean something to you, so work with kindness, spend time together, stay in touch with past colleagues, mentor each other, and treat each other as you’d like to be treated.