Nava | VP of Engineering -

VP of Engineering

Nava |  DC, SF, NY | Dev / Eng

Job Description
Perks + Benefits
Company Culture Coverage
Nava partners with government to deliver mission-critical software that helps public institutions earn people’s trust. As a public benefit corporation, Nava is driven not just by profit, but also by our mission to build government software that serves the American public. We ask the right questions to help civil servants and other contractors work effectively on complex systems in multi-stakeholder environments.
Nava is hiring a VP of Engineering to lead and grow the engineering organization. This is a strategic executive-level role that works closely with project teams and government clients to deliver excellent digital services on budget and on schedule.
As VP of Engineering, you will be responsible for helping Nava grow. You will spend most of your time setting Nava’s technical strategy and vision, recruiting engineers and managing a growing organization, and interacting with prospective and existing government customers. You will coach and mentor engineering managers, and identify and grow engineering leaders on your team. You will build best practices for how engineers work in a professional services firm, and set the standard for what successful modernization projects in government looks like and how it can be delivered. You will meet with government clients to understand needs and industry trends, and ensure that Nava is successfully solving technology problems so that government services can meet the changing needs of the public.
This role requires travel to DC every 1-2 months. If based in DC, travel to other offices is required on an as-needed basis.
Opportunities and Challenges
You will be working within the government ecosystem, which means working, sometimes closely, with other government contractors and civil servants. Working with people outside of your company means you’ll likely encounter different working styles and cultural norms. At the same time, working as part of a larger team allows us to deliver on projects of larger scale and complexity.
The government also imposes a level of bureaucracy that is typically not present in a company of our size in the private sector. We operate in a regulated environment, where checks and compliance is built into the process of building software. This can make the path to production slower and some decisions, such as tools and processes, lie outside of our control. However, beyond writing code, finding and recommending ways to improve the way government software is built is one of the highest-leverage ways we help fulfill our mission.
You will be working with legacy systems. While our work is to build new systems with up-to-date technology, we have to do that within an existing ecosystem. Our work is building functional, resilient software for production. We don’t build flashy prototypes that don’t work for real people. This usually means getting to know legacy systems, often with poor documentation and unreliable narrators, and trying to determine how to replicate the systems’ behavior or how to integrate with these systems. This is a great opportunity for engineers who enjoy software archaeology. If you care deeply about how software systems work over time, and building systems for longevity and resilience, this work is for you.
Who we’re looking for
You are an experienced engineering leader who cares deeply about building empathetic, high-performing engineering teams. You enjoy creating opportunities and helping engineers grow in ways that align with business needs. You are keen to grapple with the complexities in building government software, eager to continuously meet and understand our customers’ needs, and building a culture of continuous learning to improve how we work. You prefer using proven technologies to build well-designed systems that are scalable, performant, and secure. You have a deep understanding of industry practices, and are pragmatic about introducing and iterating on engineering practices. You’ll work with the engineering organization to set the standard for successfully delivering government projects, and work with the executive team to develop company strategy and set technical direction for Nava’s growth.
You are a proven strategic problem solver, with good judgment and skilled at making thoughtful decisions. You are comfortable working in ambiguous, rapidly-evolving environments with many parallel threads. You are humble, self aware of strengths and weaknesses, and value critical feedback and personal growth. You are an empathetic communicator and relationship builder. You’re able to take complex ideas and issues and explain them simply, and adjust how you communicate technical concepts based on the level of knowledge of your audience. You are highly organized, detail-oriented and precise, and care deeply about building a sustainable, culture-conscious business.


    • You care deeply about making government work better. Develop a high-performing engineering organization that partners with civil servants to deliver exceptional software for the American people.
    • You have a network. Develop and execute on recruiting strategy and inclusive interview processes to improve hiring speed, diversity, and quality. Invests in long-term relationships to fill key roles.
    • You can quickly see strengths. Responsible for hiring, and meeting the engineering needs of various project teams. Identify organizational issues and iterate on organizational structures and processes. Support engineers in making high level strategic technical decisions and aligning to business objectives.
    • You care about your people. Coach and support engineers and managers in developing their skills. Develop training, promote knowledge sharing, and seek out expertise within and outside the organization to share with the engineering team. Develop team building activities that create cohesion within the engineering team.
    • You set the standard. Establish and uphold best practices for the team that improve overall code quality, maintainability, security, and team collaboration and productivity.
    • As a member of the executive team, you will develop company strategy, from a technical perspective. You will lead multi-year technology strategies that support the company mission. You will ensure major architectural decisions and technology choices support future possibilities for the company and mitigate critical risks related to engineering and technology. You will communicate executive-level strategy internally and externally. You will help Nava grow by setting our technology direction, building and nurturing a growing engineering team, and helping to protect and grow our core business.

Preferred Experience

    • At least 5 years of engineering leadership experience.
    • Experience managing managers, and developing first-time managers.
    • Experience building a diverse team and sponsoring under-represented people.
    • Experience scaling engineering teams 25-100.
    • Experience delivering multi-year large-scale projects, especially in a government context.
    • Extensive experience building applications that are highly scalable, available, and performant using industry best practices.
We’re a small team working to radically improve our government, so everyone that joins us has a direct impact on the direction and success of Nava. We are stewards – we hold a deep responsibility towards the systems that we work with. We are a community – we value collaboration both within our teams and with the many hardworking people within government. We offer generous benefits and equity.
We care deeply about diversity and inclusion at Nava. We are an equal opportunity employer and do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, marital status, veteran status, or disability status.
Note that we participate in E-Verify and upon hire, will provide the federal government with your Form I-9 information to confirm that you are authorized to work in the U.S.
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Health & Wellness Benefits
  • Dental
  • Disability Insurance
  • Health Insurance
  • Life Insurance
  • Vision
Parental Benefits
  • Flexible Work Schedule
  • Generous Parental Leave
Perks & Discounts
  • Casual Dress
  • Company Outings
  • Snacks
Retirement & Stock Options Benefits
  • 401K
  • Company Equity
Vacation & Time Off Benefits
  • Generous PTO
  • Paid Holidays
  • Paid Sick Days

What are Nava’s core values?

Be active stewards; pursue the root cause; think long-term; build together; inclusion is essential; progress takes work. 

Nava is a mission-driven company with employees who aren’t just “engineering for engineering’s sake,” but actually trying to improve some of the most critical government services through holistic design and engineering. At Nava, team members are always willing to collaborate across disciplines in order to get the job done.

What is the Nava elevator pitch?

Nava is a public benefit corporation dedicated to making government simple, effective, and accessible for everyone. It partners with the government to bring human-centered design, agile software development, and product management to bear on some of our nation's toughest challenges. 

Nava is a thoughtful team of people across engineering, design, product, and business that cares deeply about building government services that have a lasting impact on the lives of millions of people. 

How has the company grown since it was founded in 2015?

Four years in, its original team of six is now nearly 100, with a growing cohort of distributed employees across the country. 

Today, Nava represents 49% women and over 50% underrepresented backgrounds in tech, with leadership represented by majority women and 45% people of color.

What are the most exciting projects right now?

Nava began when a handful of us were brought together to fix after the initial rollout. Continuing its mission to improve the accessibility, effectiveness and simplicity of government services, it has:

● Partnered with Code for America and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities to make it easier for people living at or below the poverty line to access state-administered benefits.

● Helped make the largest modern update to Medicare, improving the Quality Payment Program to change how providers are paid and rewarded. 

● Iterated on the Scalable Login System (SLS) — initially built to fix scaling issues with — to improve identity management for’s more than 34 million account holders. 

● Worked with Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy to create plain language templates that help researchers easily honor participants’ right to privacy. 

How do employees collaborate?

Google Drive and Slack are two communication tools that Nava team members use frequently. Slack is used to communicate internally, and Google Docs are used to create “Tech Specs,” a brainstorm document that encourages collaboration across all departments. Because Nava is bi-coastal and remote friendly, video conferencing via Google Hangouts between San Francisco, DC, NYC, and remote staff allows for connectivity in open spaces.

How does Nava celebrate big wins?

Expect sweet treats after big contract wins or special announcements. Trips to Medieval Times (a dinner and performance show that takes attendees back to medieval ages), "Paint Nite," or a "bubble ball tournament," where players wear huge, soft inflatable bubbles and run toward and bounce off of each other in an open field, are other bonus outings. This fall, the entire team will be meeting together for a week long offsite in the Poconos.

Any Nava traditions?

Every Friday, Nava hosts a weekly staff meeting called “Team Huddle.” Nava uses this time to promote their shared value of transparency by providing on projects are shared company-wide and employees have the opportunity to give one another “shout outs” to celebrate small victories achieved throughout the week.

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