Dec 10 2020

Network Engineering: Small Teams, Big Impact

By Meta Careers
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This post was published before the Facebook company became Meta. For the most recent Meta Careers blog posts, visit our blog homepage.
Network Engineering (NetEng) is part of the backbone of the Facebook company. Ibrahima B., Network Investments, Emerging Markets Lead, puts it best, “Facebook’s mission, to bring the world closer together, can’t be done without infrastructure. That’s why working within Network Engineering is so rewarding. Every one of my teammates is as passionate about advancing connectivity as I am.”
Across the organization, each team is nimble, solves complex and technical challenges, and is trusted to address big problems. Even though many of the teams within the organization are small in size, there’s an endless opportunity to drive impact across the entire company. Hear from a few engineers, Bettina G., Ibrahima B., and Sonja K., about how they’re making a big difference within Network Engineering.
"Ibrahima standing in front of a river and houseboats"

1. Demonstrating ownership

There’s a lot of autonomy at Facebook, especially on smaller teams within Network Engineering. The company relies on every individual engineer to own their projects and follow through to the finish line.
Because of Facebook’s scale, teammates are able to work on unique and exciting technical challenges. Bettina G., Manager, Rotational Network Engineering, shares, “We have a strong culture of ownership, which is different from other companies I’ve worked for. We have full autonomy with the projects we own, whether centered on design, scaling technology, or delivering solutions.”
Sonja K., Engineering Manager, is inspired by her work, which drives her autonomy. “We take pride in not just the software we write, but also the intense operational focus required to run a network of our scale and support our entire family of applications such as Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger.”

2. Working with other teams

Collaboration is at the heart of the work we do at Facebook, and NetEng teams are no different. A lot of what gets done is only possible through working with others.
Ibrahima B. has seen the need for internal partnerships first hand. “Large infrastructure projects in emerging markets require a lot of collaboration, and Facebook has a very open culture. We work with the Policy, Regulatory, Legal, Compliance, Finance teams, as well as others across the business to execute. It makes it fun.”
For Bettina, the collaborations are endless, and the work she’s doing has spanned the entire organization. “Anything that happens at Facebook is based on the work that we do. Because of that, Network Engineering has many teams and I’ve worked with all of them.”
Sonja notes how this type of openness has trickled throughout the entire industry. “I’m constantly inspired by how Facebook values transparency. We create the majority of our tools and systems in-house and we also participate in OCP (Open Compute Project) to spur innovation. We're developing new tools and technologies and opening them up to the community, enabling others to innovate.”
"Bettina holding a sticker that says ‘This journey is 1% finished’"

3. Focusing on a specific area or project

The best way to make an impact is to do what you love, and the rest falls into place. For many NetEng team members, the ability to work on projects they care about lets them thrive.
Ibrahima shares how honing in on specific projects has positively affected his work. “We have a small team, and everyone is super focused and passionate about what they do. Since we’re a relatively small group, I’m able to focus on two key areas I’ve specialized in. One is helping identify opportunities for infrastructure investment. Based on my experience in those markets, I can quickly zoom in on those areas to make an impact. I’m so glad I’ve found something I’m passionate about and am able to run with it.”
"Sonja inside a Facebook office"
Sonja has always enjoyed engineering, but it wasn’t until she joined NetEng at Facebook that she was able to work on something where multiple of her interests aligned. “The FBOSS (FB Open Switching System) engineering team at Facebook was interesting to me as it combines classic networking with the way Facebook is building its large scale services.”

4. By bringing on the right candidates to join the team

Finding the right candidates can be tricky, but if you’re passionate and understand the complexities about network engineering, you may be a fit.
A sense of enthusiasm is a common theme on teams. Bettina says, “If you’re new to the industry but have a strong interest in network engineering, Facebook is the best place to get your feet wet. You’re able to learn at one of the biggest networks and instead of being thrown in the water, you’ll be guided by senior teammates who want to see you grow.”
For Sonya, understanding the intense operational focus required to run a network of Facebook’s scale is key. “It’s critical we bring on engineers who understand these implications and feel inspired by this type of challenge. You don’t need a background in a networking field to join the team, you just need to be curious about how it all works in practice.”
Find open roles on the NetEng team here!

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