Inside Ahmad Fathy’s journey from developer to software engineering manager
Ambition, drive, hustle — we see these terms listed in job descriptions, discussed by career development experts, and praised by successful entrepreneurs. But it’s rare to see them in action in such a clear and dramatic way as is evident in Ahmad Fathy’s career.
Ahmad’s connection with Crossover began when he applied for a C# engineer position at enterprise software company Aurea, one of Crossover’s largest clients. Although he had passed all the qualifications for the role, it was filled before he had the opportunity to accept. Another manager at Aurea offered Ahmad a position as a SQL developer. Although it wasn’t his first choice, he had experience in this domain and saw the offer as a challenge.
With a bachelor’s degree in engineering, a master’s degree in information technology in progress, and several years of experience as a software engineer, Ahmad was already well on his way to a successful career in the tech industry, but this step would be the beginning of a sequence of events that would take his career to a whole new level.
A month into his new job, Ahmad was promoted to team lead due to his high performance levels — what he calls working “four times better than everyone [else].” This drive to go above and beyond and constantly improve his performance is a key characteristic of Ahmad’s work ethic. Even as an engineering student at Cairo University, he began teaching online courses and giving instructional sessions while still completing his own studies.
Ahmad brought this same initiative to Aurea. Through transitions to two other team lead positions at Aurea (with the IT operations and service desk teams) and eventually a promotion to an SaaS Ops architect position, he would always ask his managers the same thing: “What are my targets this quarter?”
Through clarifying his managers’ expectations and taking stock of his own abilities to meet them, Ahmad not only consistently exceeded his targets, but reached them faster than requested. During this time, he was also taking on managerial-level responsibilities and felt the next logical move would be to pursue a more senior position.
So Ahmad applied for a cloud infrastructure architect role at Crossover that would increase his responsibilities and nearly double his current pay rate. After passing all the qualifying tests, but before accepting the final interview, he approached his manager about his determination to move up to a higher-level role. To keep Ahmad on the team at Aurea, his manager offered to match the rate, starting out with half the increase and then progressing to the full raise — but only on the condition that Ahmad hit some further productivity targets within three months.
Instead of opting for the new position with the instant raise, Ahmad accepted the challenge — which he met in only one month instead of three.
“You always need to be ambitious,” he explained. “And you need to be proactive…. You always need to be that person who just keeps proposing [solutions].”
This results-based approach led not only to the desired cloud infrastructure architect position, but was also followed by a promotion to SaaS quality chief architect and, within three months, software engineering manager (SEM). Over the course of about two years, Ahmad had advanced from SQL developer to SaaS Ops SEM — for a total of five promotions that more than tripled his pay rate.
As a manager, Ahmad draws from his own career advancement journey to advise his team. “None of my team members consider me as a manager,” he says. “They consider me as a friend who is trying to help them be better.”
And he believes the kind of successes he has experienced aren’t exceptional — they’re a possibility for anyone who, as he puts it, thinks like a leader rather than a follower. Ahmad’s philosophy for workplace success centers around a few key concepts:
Regularly asking his managers for feedback and clarifying their expectations enabled Ahmad to plot a course for how to exceed them. Whenever managers gave him targets to reach, he considered those goals a challenge to conquer and a way to build his skills.
In addition to being aware of managers’ expectations, Ahmad stresses that it’s important to have personal standards for excellence. Constantly seeking to “surpass yourself” through meeting personal goals for work quality, improvement, or productivity will lead to measurable results — and won’t go unnoticed by supervisors.
Through each step in his career, one of Ahmad’s primary goals was to be proactive in adding value in his role — to be the person who is “first in line” to suggest actionable ideas for improvement. This made him an indispensable team player, leading to opportunities for greater responsibility.
To develop the kind of big-picture perspective and problem-solving skills that accelerated his career, Ahmad tapped into the power of prioritizing, which he defines as differentiating between important tasks or issues and urgent ones. Taking this a step further, Ahmad always looks for opportunities to propose solutions for important problems before they become urgent, and propose plans to ensure urgent issues won’t happen again.
Ahmad Fathy’s story is just one example of the careers being built in Crossover’s talent network. When Ahmad tells his team to “try owning something and make it work,” he speaks from experience as one of the more than 2,000 tech professionals that Crossover is equipping to tackle challenging projects, build valuable skills, and own their careers.