Productivity Lessons in Moving from Big Tech to Scaling a Startup

Most productivity research happens in large tech companies. Many of the lessons learned there apply to the world of Startups as well, but some don't carry over.

After years in big tech leading organizations at GitHub and Google, Rachel will discuss her transition to leading engineering for a fast-growing Startup. She has spent years focused on developer productivity including managing the team focused on Engineering Productivity Research at Google. She now spends her time as SVP leading Engineering for and doing Startup advising.

This talk includes tips on how adjusting your leadership style to meet the challenge of building productive and happy teams in the fast moving world of Startups.


Rachel Potvin

SVP Eng with 25 Years in Tech, Previously @Google and @GitHub, Engineering Leader Focused on Building Productive Happy Teams

Rachel Potvin is an engineering leader with 25 years of experience working in the technology sector. She’s spent the bulk of her career working on developer focused infrastructure and is passionate about building and investing in systems that improve developer productivity and happiness. She has a lot of experience building, growing, and sustaining healthy, productive engineering organizations.

After a long career in big tech, Rachel is currently enjoying being deeply immersed in the world of startups. As SVP and the head of Engineering for she’s having fun building a world class engineering organization to meet the challenge of creating an innovative and highly scalable platform for content management in the age of AI. She’s also an advisor for fast moving startups including Substack, EngFlow, and Graphite.

Before diving into the world of startups, Rachel worked at GitHub as a VP of Engineering for 4 years where she grew her organization to over 500 developers working on products such as GitHub Advanced Security, Codespaces, Copilot, Code Productivity (CodeSearch and Navigation), the GitHub Data Platform and more.

Before GitHub, Rachel worked at Google for 11 years. There, she most recently ran the Google Cloud Insights organization, responsible for managing and building data products and a recommendations engine leveraging Google Cloud's customer and product data. Prior to that she worked in Infrastructure, running Google’s DevOps teams focused on source control, workflow management, and developer productivity.

Rachel also spent six years in the video game industry and two years in the financial services sector. She is originally from Montreal, Canada and in her spare time she enjoys hiking, running, cooking, and building things with her children.

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