A lot of examples of growing to Staff are more oriented around less technical fundamental/soft skills, including the examples in Taro. However, I'm unsure how to find this scope in my team, and I don't think that kind of behavior works to get to Staff at Apple overall. I spend ~90% of my time coding, and the culture is more top-down at Apple compared to a company like Meta.
Given all that, how can it be possible for me to grow to Staff? Are there paths to Staff that are heavily technical?
There are definitely paths to Staff that are more technical, and given the top-down nature of Apple, it seems like there's a bias toward that archetype. Check out the archetypes from the StaffEng book. Perhaps the "solver" archetype is what Apple values from software engineers.
One thing that may be instructive is to look at existing Staff engineers in your team and org (I imagine you probably only have 1 staff eng on your immediate team). How do they spend their time, and what's the 1-liner for why they got promoted to that level?
You mention you spend 90% of your time coding, which is not inherently a bad thing, but I'd want to make sure that you also spend enough time ensuring that people within/outside your team are aware of your technical expertise in whatever it is you're doing. Similar to the other Staff engineers, would people be able to describe a 1-liner for what your most impactful work is?
Do you feel confident in being able to do that with the remaining 10%? It's possible, but I'm a bit skeptical given that you probably have team meetings, 1:1s, and general overhead around task management + reporting.
There are 3 more technical archetypes that could fit here:
Lastly, I highly recommend watching the following video from Airbnb's Head of Search Engineering, Rachel Zhao: What's the Difference Between A Senior And Staff Engineer?
There's also a bunch of great senior->staff resources linked in the description of that video, and those should help further clarify what Big Tech Staff Engineer behavior really looks like.
Do check this out: https://www.promotions.fyi/company/apple/promotion
I've been lucky in getting to lead cross-functional, somewhat complex projects for past 2 years. The Staff engineer on my team told me I'm a 10x engineer! And I've consistently gotten above expectations at Apple.
Still my ICT5 promo was turned down after being told I have a good chance. The only feedback I got was to keep doing what I'm doing and in some years promotion will come. That's it!
From what I've heard, that's the situation in most Orgs at Apple, unfortunately. It's much easier to get hired as an ICT5 then to get promoted to it. Looks like these Orgs are incentivising top talent to leave, intentionally or not.
Once you know what type of Staff engineer you want to be, evaluate whether staying in your team or changing team/company makes sense for you.