⚠️ I'm actively rebuilding this site in Astro incrementally, and not waiting til I'm done! Something something work in public. See previous version.

Amberley Romo

Year in Review: 2023

2023 recap



I hit my three-year anniversary at Netlify. Context from last year:

What I said last year pretty much holds, “I have overall really enjoyed my time at Netlify. Like any startup, it has its challenges, but it’s been the right place for me. I’m so grateful for the wonderful people I’m surrounded by in my day to day, and it’s satisfying to help build a product that empowers so many developers and companies.” About a month after I hit my two years, we were not spared in the wave of layoffs hitting tech. I’m grateful that my position and the positions of folks on my team were not eliminated, but I felt absolutely gutted for those who lost their jobs. In the last several years (starting before Netlify), I’ve become a lot better at being more appropriately emotionally distanced from my job. I’m obviously still invested, personally in the people around me, and professionally in the company, but I’m more realistic now. It’s helped me navigate some of this year.

A lot of that pretty much holds, again. I have wrapped up my first official year as an engineering manager. I’ve been calling this year “speed-running management”.

First, in February, Netlify announced the acquisition of Gatsby — where I formerly worked. I’m still grateful for my experience at Gatsby, but I and others left Gatsby at a really rough time in 2020. From 2020:

Work was a struggle, and ate up an enormous amount of my emotional bandwidth this year. Myself and some (former) co-workers wrote and signed an open letter to the Gatsby community. I don’t know what else to say, really. I’m grateful for my time at Gatsby, and made some invaluable friendships and connections in that time. Ultimately though, it became clear that it was time to move on and start fresh.

And so I had mixed feelings about this development. Overall I was excited to see some amazing folks I had already worked with (including several I ended up getting to work with directly!) but it was still an interesting change to navigate.

Then, in June, Netlify announced the acquisition of Stackbit.

Then, in July, Netlify had the second round of layoffs. This time, my team was affected. Without going into specific detail, that sucked. Despite my lack of control over the situation, I felt extremely guilty and agonized over it. Being responsible for people is a lot of emotional responsibility, and has been the hardest part of the job, by far.

Wrapped in to all of these major events were team re-orgs, shifts in strategy, etc. It was a year of “organizational whiplash”. I do want to write more about my experience growing as a engineering manager, but I feel conflicted about whether I’ll post it — maybe I will, maybe I won’t.

Suffice to say, it was a roller coaster. I did my level best, and overall I’m proud of the way I helped navigate the last year, given all of the turbulence and change. It was a hard intro to management, that’s for sure. Hence, “speed-running”.

Last year I focused on surviving all the change and doing the best for my team that I could. This year I hope to be able to proactively develop further.

2023 goals check-in

  1. Do a monthly review at the end of every month. I didn’t do anything official for this, but I did take time to reflect at the end of most months.
  2. Finish one project a month. I definitely didn’t do this. It’s clearly not a priority for me, and I’m not going to plan for it this year. I’ll do projects I enjoy, when I want to.
  3. Plan something to look forward to every month. I did this! I created a “Highlights” notion database (based on this template) that I planned for and updated through the year. It’s been awesome to be able to scroll back and see, and I’ll definitely be continuing.
  4. Continue strength training at least 2x/week, cardio 2x/week. Yep. Again I’m not making just wild progress, but keeping my strength up. This is an area I have more specific personal goals set for 2024.

Looking ahead to 2024

This year, I’m trying something different for reflection, goals and planning.

  1. YearCompass. In mid-December, I started working through this booklet — reviewing 2023, looking ahead to 2024. It was a valuable, albeit difficult, exercise. It was a good lead-in to…
  2. 12 Week Year. While not a ground-breaking premise, this has flipped a switch in me. I don’t have goals for 2024. I have goals for the first 12 weeks of 2024. It’s short-term enough to feel immediate, but long-term enough to see change. I’m not going to post specifics about those here, but I will post about the bits I want to in my 2024 year in review.