+00:00 GMT

Making the Transition from Large to Smaller Companies

with Vinod Marur & Ali Irturk

August 1, 2023


Vinod Marur is the SVP of Engineering at Databricks. He was previously at Rubrik where he served as SVP Engineering and established a mature engineering organization geared for rapid product development and innovation with a deep focus on product quality and organizational development. Prior to that, Vinod spent nearly 15 years in leadership roles across some of Google’s most critical business units, including Search, Ads, and Payments as well as tapping into his passion for developer platforms to create and lead the Actions on Google platform, used by third parties to develop for Google Assistant and other Google products.

"You've got to want to build houses, not paint walls. Painting walls is fine and it's totally good, but if you do not like to build houses, actually don't make that transition because you're literally gonna go like, 'Oh my God, there is no wall here.' And you're gonna have to build it from scratch. Everything you need to be able to do yourself.”

- Vinod Marur   


Ali's day-to-day passion is creating and being part of efficient and effective engineering organizations that are firing on all cylinders where team members can achieve autonomy, mastery, and purpose in a psychologically safe environment. Ali is currently realizing this passion by working at CommerceHub as their Vice President of Engineering.

He previously worked at rocketship start-ups funded by some of the top VCs in the world including a16z, SoftBank, Microsoft Ventures, and Lightspeed Ventures to name a few. He was the Vice President of Engineering at WorkBoard, a strategy and results enterprise SaaS platform helping large organizations align quickly for results, leading product delivery as well as accessibility, application security, release engineering, platform, and infrastructure teams. Previously, Ali was the Vice President of Engineering at ALICE Technologies working on revolutionizing the construction industry with an artificial intelligence-powered enterprise SaaS product.

Ali also created and managed the advanced products group at Cognex Corporation (NASDAQ: CGNX) for 8 years while working as an adjunct professor at UC San Diego. His team worked on creating innovative industrial vision systems and software to help companies improve their product quality, eliminate production errors, and lower manufacturing costs. Examples of the products I worked on were the world's first vision system on chip and the world's fastest 3D scanning system to name a few.

Where he is today is quite different from where his journey began. Born and raised in Istanbul, Ali graduated from the Turkish Naval Academy and served as an officer in the Turkish Navy. After leaving the Navy, he earned Master's degrees in Computer Engineering and Economics at UC Santa Barbara, a Ph.D. degree in Computer Science at UC San Diego, and an MBA at UC Berkeley.

Join us at ELC Annual 2023!

ELC Annual is our flagship conference for engineering leaders. You’ll learn from experts in engineering and leadership, gain mentorship and support from like-minded professionals, expand your perspectives, build relationships across the tech industry, and leave with practical prove strategies.

Join us this August 30-31 at the Fort Mason Center in San Francisco

For tickets, head to https://sfelc.com/annual2023


  • Introducing Vinod & Ali (3:17)
  • Vinod’s experience @ Google & the motivation to move to smaller startups (3:23)
  • Strategies for searching for the next opportunity (7:07)
  • Taking action vs. stagnation mode (9:31)
  • Know your role within a smaller organization (10:27)
  • Recommendations to make transitioning to a small org smoother (13:11)
  • How long the transition period typically lasts (17:35)
  • Frameworks for being an effective leader at a smaller org (18:42)
  • Eng leadership skills & attributes that matter the most (23:25)
  • Use coaches / mentors to help support your transition (25:55)
  • Things Vinod says he would do differently in his earlier transitions (28:13)
  • Audience Q&A: how leading at a small vs. large company is like working out (30:55)
  • Switching your mindset from top-down to bottom-up (32:37)
  • Navigating the balance between celebrating new features & operational wins at startups (34:44)
  • Tips for integrating your startup between original team & newer hires from large orgs (39:19)
  • Coaching individuals & organizations to accept change on both sides (42:35)
  • Know what problems to focus on & calibrate w/ the right folks (45:12)

This episode wouldn’t have been possible without the help of our incredible production team:

Patrick Gallagher - Producer & Co-Host

Jerry Li - Co-Host

Noah Olberding - Associate Producer, Audio & Video Editor https://www.linkedin.com/in/noah-olberding/

Dan Overheim - Audio Engineer, Dan’s also an avid 3D printer - https://www.bnd3d.com/

Ellie Coggins Angus - Copywriter, Check out her other work at https://elliecoggins.com/about/

Dive in
Making the Transition from Large to Smaller Companies
By Tim Laboy-Coparropa • Jan 27th, 2023 Views 355
Making the Transition from Large to Smaller Companies
By Tim Laboy-Coparropa • Jan 27th, 2023 Views 355
Making intentional career decisions
Aug 9th, 2022 Views 1.4K
How to Choose Your Own Adventure in Startups
By Noah Olberding • Oct 9th, 2023 Views 157