Lawrence Mandel, Shopify

Breakpoint 2020 is a 4-day virtual summit on everything testing. We're bringing speakers from the best dev and QA teams to talk about building QA processes, automating at scale and best practices for success with tools and frameworks.

Lawrence Mandel is the Director of Production Engineering, Developer Acceleration at Shopify. He enjoys technical challenges, building new products and founding open source projects.

Lawrence is also an active athlete, coach for youth sports and involved in charitable fundraising. He specializes in leadership, strategy, planning, people management, and mentorship.

What does your role at Shopify involve?

I run Shopify's Developer Acceleration team. Our mission is to make commerce developers highly productive. We are responsible for scaling Shopify engineering.

Can you give us a sneak-peek into your session for Breakpoint 2020?

I'm going to talk about taking stronger technical opinions, ones that lead to more narrowly defined paths, reducing the amount of decision-making required and promoting innovation, with more advanced tooling and automation.

What is it like to be in a technical leadership role?

It is fun and challenging because we're solving tough technical problems. It's also frustrating sometimes when things don't always go as planned and I can't be as hands-on as I'd like to be. But most of the time, it's very engaging, because I have a significant impact on the company.

What are you reading/learning right now?

I'm reading about 'Antifragility.' This book came out of Shopify's book bar, a collection of books put together by Shopify leadership to establish shared background and mental pathways and models.

I find the concept of antifragility really interesting. The basic idea is that something fragile gets worse when broken while something antifragile gets better when broken. The author covers topics like education, politics, and optionality.

What would you tell a developer who was new to leadership?

Your job is not to make every decision, but rather, to ensure that every decision is made. Everyone has something to teach you, so you'll benefit from listening to what others have to say.

When you express an opinion, be willing to both back up that opinion with information and to change your opinion if new information pushes you in a different direction.