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Rackspace creates career path for tech execs who do not want to manage people

Ann Bednarz | June 16, 2015
Egle Sigler started at Rackspace as a junior programmer and later moved to a DevOps architect position before advancing to her current role: principal architect of private cloud solutions at Rackspace.

Sigler's work with OpenStack is a good example of how the TCT program allows employees to expand their roles. Sigler is a board member at OpenStack Foundation and co-chair of the DefCore committee, which works on minimum-requirements specifications for OpenStack. Rackspace -- one of the original founders of OpenStack -- has two DefCore-certified OpenStack clouds.

"That has been a great initiative that combines the technical leadership aspect of the job with the technical," Sigler said of her DefCore work. "It kind of merged my day job with my OpenStack Foundation job with TCT."

Sigler also made time to co-write a book (DevOps for VMware Administrators), and she is working on another one. She has served for two years on the governing board for POWER (Professional Organization of Women Empowered at Rackspace), Rackspace's internal employee resource group dedicated to empowering women in technology.

"I'm really fortunate that we have the TCT program. I don't really see how else I could be doing all these different things that I am," she says.

The flexibility and growth opportunities that TCT allows are a big part of why Sigler has stayed at Rackspace, despite enticements from other companies. "Because of all the people I work with, and the doors that TCT has opened for me, I don't have a reason to look anywhere else," she says.

Not just a courtesy title

TCT has not always been so well developed. An early iteration of the program was more of a "gold star" initiative that rewarded technical people Rackspace wanted to recognize and retain, Lindberg says. Over time the program has become more formalized and developed but it took some internal reorganization to get to that point, he says.

Formalizing the program has allowed Rackspace to better engage with its entire technical population, not just the folks at the top. "It helps us be a little more mindful about making sure that we have a broad range of technical skills and viewpoints reflected in this group," Lindberg says.

"It's structured enough and transparent enough to be something most employees see," Sullivan adds.

The program has come a long way in the last year or so, Otto says. TCTers are doing more meaningful work at global scale, he says.

The idea of recognizing top technical talent is not new; many companies use titles such as "distinguished engineer" or "fellow" to designate key technical people. But Rackspace sees a distinction between those titles and its TCT members, who are expected to be involved in business decisions.

"It's more than just a badge that you're in this program. It's not just a way of giving an award to an employee for being a great engineer," Otto says.

 

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