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Resource advocacy, frameworks for saying yes / no, & removing critical points of failure

with Megan Kacholia

March 7, 2023
Resource advocacy, frameworks for saying yes / no, & removing critical points of failure
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Megan Kacholia is a Vice President of Engineering within Google's Core organization.  She is a leader in the Cross-Google Engineering (xGE) effort, which is responsible for company-wide technical coordination. Her passion is building effective teams and addressing barriers to help Googlers do their best work.

Previously, Megan was and VP in Google’s Research organization, where her team’s work spanned machine learning in research as well as production, including products such as TensorFlow, and prior to that she had a long tenure in Google’s Ads organization, where she ran the serving system for Google’s DisplayAds business.  Megan has a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from UIUC.

"At the end of the day, we had to be able to explain it to the team. Right? And I can't go and tell the team and be like, 'Well, the opex costs are too high because you know of this reason with the headcount and this and that and I know so and so told you they love you, but really it didn't mean this thing.'

In some ways, those details don't matter, right? What matters is these people are worried that their project's getting shut down. So when it came time to communicate that we actually were gonna shut it down. We have to do an official shutdown because we have to announce it externally. So that means we have to make sure people only have so many weeks to find a new project and all of these things. So the main thing I emphasize when I talked to them wasn't about like, 'Oh, I did all of this work to try and save your project, and I couldn't.' That was irrelevant. It couldn't be saved.

The most important thing was about what's the impact for the people? Well, I've already lined up options and positions for every single one.”

<cite>- Megan Kacholia   </cite>

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  • How Megan advocated for more resources / support at Google (3:07)
  • Convincing direct reports to accept changes & understand benefits (6:07)
  • Insights on how to drive change within your eng team (10:20)
  • Balancing accuracy & simplicity when communicating with your team (12:29)
  • Frameworks for saying “yes” vs. “no” to new responsibilities (16:41)
  • What to do when the decision to say “yes” or “no” isn’t clear (19:46)
  • Having the confidence to say “no” (20:53)
  • Find ways to give your team control within the given situation (24:38)
  • The hardest situations to say “no” to as an eng leader (25:54)
  • Megan’s approach to managing people with more experience than you (28:57)
  • How to navigate managing someone you have a pre-existing peer relationship with (31:09)
  • Knowing when to help vs. fix as a manager (35:14)
  • Tips for removing “linchpins” / critical points of failure from your eng team (37:34)
  • Rapid fire questions (41:12)


  • The Emperor of All Maladies - Physician, researcher, and award-winning science writer, Siddhartha Mukherjee examines cancer with a cellular biologist’s precision, a historian’s perspective, and a biographer’s passion. The result is an astonishingly lucid and eloquent chronicle of a disease humans have lived with—and perished from—for more than five thousand years.

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/

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