This article is the result of two events that took place in the same week. A conversation with my friend Tuka, growth at CodingGame and one of my former students at Rocket School, who asked my opinion on the Growth Engineer profession for a possible retraining. And the same week, I received a LinkedIn message from a recruiter, “Hello, you have a Growth Engineer profile, would you be interested in this opportunity?”. No, I definitely don’t have the profile, your automation outreach seems to be badly set up.
I’ve chosen to write an article on the job of Growth Engineer. It’s a job that’s still little-known, but one that’s all too often forgotten when it comes to building a Growth team (a team that’s often made up of just one person, after all…).
I searched LinkedIn for ads for Growth Engineers in France. LinkedIn gave me 859 results. However, only seven are Growth Engineer jobs, the others are mainly IT Engineer jobs. This search tells me two things: Growth Engineer is still a niche job, and LinkedIn’s search algorithm is terrible.
What is a Growth Engineer?
The role of the Growth Engineer is to bring technical skills to marketing teams, operational teams, and sometimes product teams. Their place in a team will depend on the structure of the company. He/she is a full-stack developer, with a business or marketing background. Among his/her roles, he/she is there to support the Growth team, find automations, launch MVPs and above all accelerate Growth experiments… The Growth Engineer brings his/her solid technical background to the team.
Our role is cross-functional, meaning that we’ll be “Development As a Service”. We’re going to help the other Growth teams accelerate their actions, and automate the processes they’ve put in place to keep a steady pace of growth.Julien Collet, Growth Engineer.
Here’s a situation I’ve experienced all too often. I came up with an idea for an experiment that I want to test quickly. I started looking for a tool to carry out the experiment. From here on, I come up against three scenarios:
- I spot a tool that matches my needs, all goes well, I install it and add it to my marketing budget.
- I find a tool that almost matches my needs, I adapt my experimentation according to the tool’s specificities rather than my original idea.
- I don’t find a tool, or the one I do find requires specific integrations with our product. In the latter case, I consult the tech team: “Hi, I’m from the marketing team, I’d like this, this and this to make a test/MVP/automation. This will take time out of your current sprint, and I can’t guarantee that I’ll keep this setup. I’d like to test the results first. Is that okay with you?” No need for suspense, to tell you that in the latter case, developers, often overwhelmed, refuse my request. I don’t blame them; developers are generally under-staffed, but over-solicited. My experiment dies in the bud.
If I’d had a Growth Engineer on my team, the Growth Engineer could have helped me launch my experiment without the need for an external tool or disturbing the tech team. As long as the Growth Engineer has access to the source code and the database. With a Growth Engineer, programming experiments is no longer an obstacle and dependence on external tools can be reduced. Of course, if a tool meets your needs perfectly and is within your budget, don’t reinvent the wheel with your Growth Engineer.
But a Growth Engineer isn’t just there to take requests from the Growth Manager or Head of Growth. The Growth Engineer must also propose ideas. Their skills enable them to see technical solutions to a business problem that other team members won’t see.
“You have to be a driving force on the marketing side too. His role isn’t limited to just coding, you have to find out what needs to be coded and therefore have a global vision.”– Thibaut Davoult, Head of Growth
Differences between a Growth Hacker and a Growth Engineer
These two professions are very similar. Both contribute to a startup’s Growth strategy, and both require technical skills. But for a Growth Hacker, technical skills don’t necessarily mean knowing how to code. You can become a Growth Hacker because you have excellent technical skills in GTM or Facebook Ads, or no code or automation skills… The technical skills required of a Growth Hacker depend on a meeting between his profile and the startup’s needs.
It’s perfectly possible to be a Growth Hacker without programming skills, as long as you’re creative, have technical knowledge and a tech team at your disposal.
However, for a Growth Engineer, we expect a profile with skills similar to those of a full-stack developer.
What skills does a Growth Engineer have?
I’m not going to draw up an exhaustive list of Growth Engineer skills. That will depend on the mission for which a Growth Engineer is hired. But here they are:
- Technical skills identical to those of a full-stack developer.
- Analytics skills to measure the results of Growth experiments.
- Mastery of SQL/Python/R for data analysis.
- A business mindset.
- Marketing skills to understand how SEA, SEO, and CRO work.
- There’s no dedicated training for Growth Engineers yet, but many are former developers, or marketers who have attended a programming bootcamp, or former startup founders.
This is still a difficult profile to recruit. Either the candidates are good marketers but lack the necessary technical background, or they are software engineers who expect to join a tech team to remain in a classic software engineer role.
One mistake to avoid
Even if a Growth Engineer helps you reduce your dependence on a tech team, I wouldn’t recommend excluding your tech team from discussions altogether. This has been a mistake I have made.
When I started at OCUS, I finally had the opportunity to work with a Growth Engineer, Vivian Sarazin. Within four months, we had launched 2-3 MVPs of super cool projects. But we’d both made the mistake of not including the devs team enough in our ideas. So when it came time to develop these projects on a large scale (scaler), we enlisted their help. But, following some technical and process disagreements, they weren’t convinced to take over our projects as they were. We had to adapt.
Now, I’m cautious and inform our tech team at the outset of our tech projects as a courtesy, even if I won’t need them later.
Growth Engineering at Netflix
In France, the job of Growth Engineer in startups is still the exception. In the United States, it’s a common job in Growth teams. Thanks to Julien Collet’s blog, I discovered the Medium account of Netflix’s Tech team. On this account, the editorial team shares two Growth Engineering experiments:
I’m personally blown away by their ideas and what they’ve put in place to realize them. Of course, for the experiments presented by Netflix. It’s the work of a large team made up of profiles from the Growth, Engineering, and Product departments. For your company, adapt the number of Growth Engineers to recruit according to the size of your projects.
Marketing, social, PR, and word of mouth all help to create awareness and convert that into demand. Growth Engineering collects this demand by helping people sign up, while optimizing for key business metrics such as conversion rate, retention, revenue, etc. We do this by building, maintaining, and operating the backend services that support the signup and login flows that work across mobile phones, tablets, computers and connected televisions. Netflix
I hope my article has given you some answers about the Growth Engineer profession. Above all, it will encourage more startups to allocate a recruitment budget to this position, so that Growth ideas don’t die lacking technical resources.