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In our org it just means "not a manager." We have two tracks in engineering, IC and managers. You can stay on the IC track and continue to be promoted to positions of higher responsibility, without your comp getting dinged because you're not a manager.

It solves for the decades-old "well now what?" mid-career dilemma where an engineer would have decide if they wanted to keep doing what they love (i.e. coding) or go into management for the comp but leave the work they love behind.

I found it freeing. Not at all condescending.

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