Choosing the leadership life: Q&A with AppFolio’s SVP of Engineering Matthew Baird

Last modified on June 24th, 2024

Engineering is where vision turns to reality, and at AppFolio, our talented Engineering team is the engine that drives innovation and impact for our customers. Our team recently grew through the addition of Matthew Baird as Senior Vice President, Engineering. Here, we get to know Matthew, why he chose to grow his career with us, and his vision for engineering at AppFolio. 

What interested you about joining AppFolio?

Matthew: Team, mission, and customer obsession. The mission is an ambitious goal that is surprisingly easy to understand, the team has the experience and skills to accomplish it, and the company’s obsession with customer experience seals the deal.

What have you observed during your first few months at AppFolio that you’ve been surprised by or excited to learn?

A genuine desire to learn and do things the right way. It’s very popular to say “we are data-driven” or “we are a learning organization,” however it’s very difficult to actually live that life. We have the will and I’ve seen data deployed for most decisions made. 

There is an opportunity to take the fantastic foundation that has been laid, and scale it with even more fantastically delighted customers. Can we do better? Heck yah, we always can!

What do you see as the opportunity ahead for the AppFolio Engineering team?

AppFolio did a statistically improbable thing – we succeeded and graduated from a start-up to a long-term successful company. Now we as a team need to evolve and invent new ways to respond to the next set of challenges. This is a team sport and will require commitment and focus from every single person in Engineering and our collaborators in Product.

We need more engineers across all levels. The correct mix of talent and experience is critical. Bringing in more senior talent specifically will give us interesting new knowledge and experience to mix with what we have and make us better as a company, as a team, and as individuals.

What is your ideal view of the relationship between Product Management and Engineering?

It is a cliche to say “it’s a partnership”, however it is – albeit a rather sophisticated one. No one side of the partnership dominates. If there was a recipe, it would be:

  1. Equal parts mutual accountability and shared responsibility
  2. All the trust
  3. Season with context

What advice would you give aspiring engineering leaders?

Be an exemplar. Figure out what great is, pursue it, and don’t let anything get in your way. Help your colleagues become great. Learn how to manage constructive conflict. If being a leader was easy, everyone would do it. Don’t break eggs for no good reason. Be honest with yourself for why you want to be a leader. I don’t agree with Tupac: you can choose the leadership life.

How do you take care of your health and wellbeing?

I feed my mind with books and meditation. I feed my body with hockey and healthy food. And I feed my spirit by making stuff and serving people.

AppFolians love where we work, and you can too. We’re always looking for talented individuals to join our team; learn more about careers in engineering or apply to become an AppFolian today!

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