When Shuhong W. left the Facebook company (now Meta) to try something new, he never imagined he would find himself going back within a year.
“I left the company after spending six years in engineering roles to explore something different,” he remembers. “The company I joined was inspiring. They had strong leadership and a meaningful mission, but I felt crippled and found it difficult to make even the smallest change. I quickly realized I wouldn’t be able to make the kind of impact I hoped to.”
Shuhong knew if he wanted to be challenged and reach his full potential, the best place to do it was at Meta. “I was familiar with the company culture, and I knew how much impact I could make there. There’s always an opportunity to do more.” Three months later, Shuhong returned to the Meta office in Singapore and took a leadership role as an enterprise engineering manager. Reflecting on his time with the company, he identifies a few key aspects of the culture and environment that promote personal and professional development for engineers.
A culture that brings out the best in people
Reminiscing about his early days here, Shuhong remembers feeling a sense of imposter syndrome. “I joined the company as a junior individual contributor, and I was overwhelmed by the amount of talent on the team. It seemed like the entire company was made up of superhumans doing amazing things.” He eventually realized that in reality, it was the environment that made everyone seem superhuman. “We’re all normal people, doing our best at a company that encourages everyone to excel,” Shuhong explains. “Meta brings out the best in us. Anyone can thrive here.”
But what does it really mean to create an engineering culture that brings out the best in people and inspires innovation? Shuhong says it’s the laser focus on embracing people’s strengths and helping them realize their own potential. “People don’t realize they are talented and poised to do great work,” Shuhong says. “At Meta, we encourage engineers to focus on the things they do well, rather than trying to master everything. We have engineers who lean toward different parts of technology. Some are skilled at frontend development, others focus on the backend. We also have team members who are excellent at project management and others who excel in fixing things. Everyone has valuable input to share and is critical to our success.”
Shuhong and his team sharing ideas during a video call.
Empowering growth through trust
Shuhong credits Meta's unique culture of trust for empowering growth across the Engineering organization. “The Enterprise Engineering team here was developed with the mindset of being bold, taking risks and most importantly, trusting one another,” he explains. “At other companies, growth, autonomy and innovation are often hindered by the pipeline of people required to make a single decision.”
“Our culture embraces the idea that people make mistakes. Team members are empowered to make decisions, learn from them, and as a result, drive innovation that brings the company forward.”
A central part of Shuhong’s growth has come from learning to trust his team—even when the stakes are high. “Autonomy can be scary,” he reflects. “Sometimes, we might think to ourselves, ‘Well, there’s a 50/50 chance we’ll fail, and we don’t want to disappoint anyone with the trust we’ve been given.’ It’s this mindset—the idea of being entrusted to do the work to the best of our ability—that truly drives all of us.” When it comes to communicating with his own team, Shuhong encourages people to make decisions they believe in and reminds them he’ll have their back regardless of the outcome.
But as Shuhong says, leadership isn’t only about demonstrating trust among your team, it’s also about earning the trust of your managers. “As a leader, it’s not about checking boxes and consistently saying yes. It’s about figuring out the best way to get something done. I’ve openly challenged leadership a few times, and I’ve survived,” he jokes. “I remember in early 2020, I felt strongly that an internal Workplace product wasn’t ready for launch. Though we were under pressure to meet our February launch goal, I voiced my concern with my manager and the product manager. I explained my point of view, which was that launching prematurely ran a risk of having a negative impact on the user experience. Ultimately, we collectively decided to slow down our schedule to ensure we could provide a delightful user experience. My manager told me he appreciated my clarity of thought and ability to stand up for what I believe in. It’s why he trusts me to effectively lead others.”
Driving impact from the engineering hub of APAC
Location has played another important role in Shuhong’s growth over the last several years. In October 2019, he moved from the Menlo Park office in California to the Singapore office. “If you’re working in engineering and looking to truly grow your career, Singapore is an exciting place to be,” he says. ”It has quickly emerged as the engineering hub of the APAC region, and the ecosystem is vibrant and ripe for opportunity.”
The company is also growing the engineering team in Singapore
. “We’re shifting more enterprise products into Singapore, like Access Manager, Employee Helpdesk and Product Catalog, and building cross-functional teams that are equipped to own products end-to-end,” Shuhong explains. “We’re just getting started, and there’s enormous impact to be made.”
When asked to summarize his journey and approach to leadership today, Shuhong shared a fond memory with a smile. “Six years ago, I moved my family to California to join the team in Menlo Park. As a result, my eight-year-old received a completely different education than my younger child now receives in Singapore. In preschool in California, he would play outside and was allowed to climb on things, fall and get back up again — without constant supervision. At five years old, he was hiking for six hours with seasoned guides in county parks. I realized through that experience that kids, like adults, will always rise to the occasion when presented with an opportunity. You don’t have to keep people on a short leash; just give them a mission, and they’ll likely surprise you.”
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