There is no separate individual contributor route to promotion, but the aim is to have a single set of competencies that are flexible enough to allow for a variety of ways that an engineer can demonstrate seniority.
A key idea here is that the more senior you are as an engineer, the more you should be helping those around you to achieve. There are many ways to do this:
Choosing not to pursue line management will mean you need to demonstrate that you are having a positive impact on others’ work in other ways.
The Product & Technology Executive/Technology Leadership Group made a decision in 2018: Principal roles and beyond must have a position open and advertised. The promotions board therefore plays no role in deciding who becomes a Principal Engineer, so there are no competencies defined at this stage. The recruiting manager for each Principal Engineer role defines what the criteria for that role will be.
There is no specific cap on the number of Principals; it is governed by open roles and decisions about the organisation’s structure. To advance to Principal Engineer either a position needs to become vacant, or a new Principal Engineer role must be created, typically when forming a new team, significantly expanding an existing one, or some other significant change occurs in a technology group’s circumstances.
Post Beta, we do aim to include competencies for Principal Engineers within the FT engineering competencies, to act as a guide for recruiting managers and existing Senior 2 Engineers.