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Development Department


A world class development team of software engineers and managers who make our customers happy when using our product(s). Our products should contain broad rich features, high availaiblity, high quality, fast performance, trustworthy security, and reliable operation.


The development department strives to deliver MRs fast. MR delivery is a reflection of:

The department also focuses on career development and process to make this a preferred destination for high performing software engineers.

We use data to make decisions. If data doesn't exist we use anecdotal information. If anecdotal information isn't available we use first principles.

The development team is responsible for developing products in the following categories:

Team Members

The following people are permanent members of the Development Department:

Person Role
Christopher "Leif" Lefelhocz Senior Director of Development
Stan Hu Engineering Fellow
Tim Zallmann Director of Engineering, Dev
Chun Du Director of Engineering, Enablement
Sam Goldstein Director of Engineering, Ops
Darby Frey (Acting) Director of Engineering, CI/CD
Lily Mai Operations Analyst, Development
Bartek Marnane Director of Engineering, Growth
Todd Stadelhofer Director of Engineering, Secure
Wayne Haber Director of Engineering, Defend

Stable Counterparts

The following members of other functional teams are our stable counterparts:

Person Role

How We Work


Welcome to GitLab! We are excited for you to join us. Here are some curated resources to get you started:

Cross Functional Collaboration

Often times, certain issues can be resolved more efficiently through cross functional collaboration. Should such an issue arises, the following lightweight process is followed:

  1. Add the label Architecture decision to the issue.
  2. Raise attention in Slack #architecture-decision.

Note: once the label is added, the issue will also appear on the development department board to receive appropriate attention.

Working across Stages

Issues that impact code in another team's product stage should be approached collaboratively with the relevant Product and Engineering managers prior to work commencing, and reviewed by the engineers responsible for that stage.

We do this to ensure that the team responsible for that area of the code base is aware of the impact of any changes being made and can influence architecture, maintainability, and approach in a way that meets their stage's roadmap.

Development Headcount planning

Development's headcount planning follows the Engineering headcount planning and long term profitability targets. Development headcount is a percentage of overall engineering headcount. For FY20, the headcount size is 271 or ~58% of overall engineering headcount.

We follow normal span of control both for our managers and directors of 4 to 10. Our sub-departments and teams match as closely as we can to the Product Hierarchy to best map 1:1 to Product Managers.

Daily Duties for Engineering Directors

The following is a non exhaustive list of daily duties for engineering directors, while some items are only applicable at certain time, though.

Secure coding best practices

It is important that all developers are aware of secure coding best practices and refresh this knowledge periodically. This is tracked via Secure Coding Training Guidelines.

Continuous Delivery, Infrastructure and Quality Collaboration

In late June 2019, we moved from a monthly release cadence to a more continuous delivery model. This has led to us changing from issues being concentrated during the deployment to a more constant flow. With the adoption of continuous delivery, there is an organizational mismatch in cadence between changes that are regularly introduced in the environment and the monthly development cadence.

To reduce this, infrastructure and quality will engage development via Availability & Performance Grooming which represents critical issues to be addressed in development from infrastructure and quality. Issues on this board are tagged with and infradev labels. A director from development will be assigned to groom the board, work with product/infrastructure/quality to set priority/severity of issues, make sure they are assigned and worked, and escalate where necessary for resolution.

Grooming will happen on a weekly basis and involve a member of infrastructure, quality, product management, and development.

Rapid Action Issue

Rapid Action, as the name implies, is the process we use when a critical situation arises needing immediate attention from various stakeholders. When the situation is identified as a potential Rapid Action the following guidance is recommended.

It is recommended that daily progress is updated in the agenda. Once the exit criteria has been met, remove the rapid action label, close the rapid action issue and prepend the agenda document with "Closed" or "Deprecated" to indicate its status.

Email alias and roll-up

  1. Available email alias (a.k.a. Google group):

    Managers, Directors, Sr. Director's teams: each alias includes everyone in the respective organization.

  2. Naming convention:, examples below -

    • Managers: includes all the engineers reporting to the Configure backend engineering manager.
    • Directors: includes all the engineers and managers reporting to the director of engineering, Ops.
    • Sr. Director: includes all engineers, managers, and directors reporting to the senior director of development.
  3. Roll up:

    Teams roll up by the org chart hierarchy -

    • Engineering managers' aliases are included in respective Sub-department aliases
    • Sub-department aliases are included in Development alias

Infrastructure Escalation Process