The role of the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) is one which has been growing in importance in recent years. While the fundamental job description may not have changed drastically, the way the role has been perceived has certainly altered. Today, CTOs have a much more pivotal position within an organisation, managing people and projects to ensure their companies are at the forefront when it comes to technological advances.
What does it take to become a successful CTO?
There isn’t just one type of person cut out for the role of CTO, and they can be drawn from all sorts of backgrounds and all walks of life. The most important characteristic a successful CTO can possess is a curious mind. The best CTOs are those who are interested in every facet of their organisation and are keen to build their business sense by gaining hands-on experience.
Rather than having a narrow focus on their own department, CTOs who take an interest in everything from finance to HR, logistics to marketing, are those who are most likely to succeed. Communication skills are also essential, as without strong communication and the ability to translate ideas between departments, there will be none of the joined-up thinking needed for smooth business-wide operations.
The further up an organisational hierarchy an individual ascends, the stronger their communication skills need to be in order to carry people with them and ensure everyone in the business is pulling in the same direction, regardless of department and position. A strong CTO is able to connect all the disparate parts of a business and make them a unified whole, but they can only do that by understanding how each branch works and communicating their needs to others. For that reason, a CTO needs to have communication and people skills which are second to none.
A thirst for knowledge is essential if you want to get on in this role. Some of the most effective CTOs are, therefore, those who have gained practical expertise before stepping into the role, often through consultancy work which has allowed them to explore a variety of different business operations. Ultimately, everyone will approach the role differently.
Companies looking to hire a CTO should not necessarily dismiss those without the formal business qualifications, as this is one role where experience often trumps qualifications. If an individual has a broad range of experience and a varied career background, they often bring more to the table than those who have come straight from a degree course or further education. That wide-ranging experience gives them a better understanding of the requirements of different sections of the organisation.
For companies looking to recruit their next CTO, the best things to look out for are an enquiring mind, a passion for working with people, a willingness to continue learning and the strongest communication skills possible. Don’t write any candidates off without hearing about their life and career experiences, because it’s those experiences which can allow them to add real value to the role of CTO.
Of course, not all businesses want or can afford to hire an in-house CTO, in which case you may want to consider outsourcing the role to an experienced professional. Atom CTO provides comprehensive CTO services specially tailored to your business. To learn more about how we can help, please contact our dedicated team today.