Engineering Leaders for Early Stage & Transitioning Startups

Nov 16, 2017 · Palo Alto, United States of America

Technical leadership plays a critical role in shaping not only what technologies get adopted, but how (and what) products are built, and how the company culture unfolds. Depending on their stage, companies have different needs and expectations from engineering leaders. Often, for an early stage startup, focus is on pure technical aspects and getting the product out. As the company starts scaling up, it requires a different kind of leadership. The existing leaders need to evolve, or may shift into a different role as the company brings in new leaders.

What is the ideal profile of an engineering leader for startups? How can we help budding (and experienced) engineering leaders prepare so they do not have to learn just from their own mistakes? There is abundance of training out there on all kind of technical topics … but what about engineering leadership training? What do incubators/accelerators do about engineering leadership to help their portfolio companies be more successful? What do VCs investing at different company stages look for when it comes to engineering leadership? How do larger companies approach this as they incubate new business ideas?

These are some of the questions we want to address in our SVELC panel. In this impactful panel discussion, we seek to bring together different perspectives on how to be an effective engineering leader, as well as how to identify such a leader or groom one.


Srdjan Kovacevic, VP Eng, Rocket Fuel


Peter Weigt, Head of Silicon Valley Innovation Center, SAP
Quang Hoang, CEO, Plato
Mohan Reddy, CTO, The Hive
Arun Ramamoorthy, General Partner, Pinnacle Ventures

Srdjan Kovacevic

Srdjan Kovacevic is a pragmatic technical leader and entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience across multiple domains: the software industry, healthcare, finance, telecom, workforce management, education, e-commerce and ad-tech. He has broad technical expertise – including AI/machine learning (spanning both semantic and statistical/data-driven/deep learning techniques), big data, data analytics, software architectures and human factors.

Srdjan’s passion for innovation, problem solving and helping customers has shaped his career path. He transitioned from academia to applied research to industry, driven by desire to solve real problems and turn innovative ideas into successful products and services leveraging the latest technologies.

He is currently vice president of engineering at Rocket Fuel, responsible for the company’s core platform and engineering teams creating big data solutions handling petabytes of data and for low-latency, highly responsive systems handling over 200 billion requests every day. He’s also been active advising and mentoring startups.

Srdjan carries a distinction of being a Fulbright Scholar with a doctorate in computer science, artificial intelligence and human factors, with a number of publications and multiple patents in internet and search technology.

Peter Weigt

Peter Weigt started working at the SAP Innovation Center in Potsdam, Germany, 5 ½ years ago. With his background in IT systems engineering from the Hasso Plattner Institute in Potsdam and his strong interest in user-centric design and design thinking, Peter transferred to joined the Strategic Customer Engagement team in Palo Alto. There, he helped solve complex business problems for customers utilizing SAP HANA and built proofs of concept to show the art of the possible. Before moving into his new role as head of the Innovation Center Silicon Valley, Peter was exploring emerging  trends like conversational AI & chatbots.
In his spare time, you can find him racing every single minute in the San Francisco Bay – Peter is a passionate sailor and likes to compete in regattas and races all around the bay.

Quang Hoang

Quang Hoang is the CEO and co-founder at Plato, an on-demand mentoring platform designed to help engineers become great engineering leaders. Mentors include engineering VPs, directors, and managers, among them the VPs of engineering at Zendesk and Lyft, and the co-founders of Box. Quang has a degree in aeronautics from Supaero: Engineering School in France, and an MBA from HEC Paris. 

Mohan Reddy

Mohan Reddy is the CTO of The Hive in Palo Alto. As the CTO of Hive, Mohan plays the role of CTO of CTOs for all The Hive portfolio companies helping them drive the technical side of things to grow from a concept to a product. For over 21 years he has architected and built platforms that scale to millions of users
at companies including IBM, Schlumberger, Travelocity and Zynga.

Mohan specializes in machine learning and building scalable systems, AI and robotics. He is very active in IEEE as a member of standards committees with numerous publications and has presented at various machine learning conferences.

Mohan has a bachelors degree in Bio-Medical Engineering, a masters in Electrical Engineering and MBA with specialization in Computational Finance. When not working, he divides his time between family and building robots.


6:15 - 7:00 Early arrival recommended!
6:30 - 7:00 Registration / Checkin
6:30 - 7:00 Enjoy networking, along with wine, beer, soda, cheese, fruit, cold cuts, courtesy of tonight's sponsor
7:00 - 7:10 Introduction and opening announcements
7:10 - 8:30 Keynote and Q&A
8:30 - 8:35 Closing announcements
8:35 - 8:45 Informal networking and followup Q&A
8:45 - 8:50 Clean up - please leave the room beautiful
8:50 - 9:00 Clear the room & have a safe trip home!


The Varian Cafeteria, 3130 Hansen Way, Palo Alto, has plentiful parking. If you map it on Google Maps, the pointer to 3130 Hansen Way, about at the kink in Hansen Way, is actually where the closest parking lot is. The cafeteria building is the buff curvy-winged building due south of the kink in Hansen Way. If you prefer public transportation, it's just a 22-minute walk from CalTrain's California Avenue station.


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Event organizers
  • Silicon Valley Engineering Leadership Community

    Meet other local current or aspiring innovative innovation leaders who are interested in engineering leadership as a strategic competency. This community is a vital part of any technical leader's career strategy. Our mutual objective: To become the kind of leaders we've always wanted to work for. Discuss the full gamut of engineering leadership: inspiring, aligning, co-creating, communicating, speaking, writing, values, learning, complimenting, appreciating, recognizing, teaching, strategizing, chunking-

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