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6 Must-Have Skills For Any CTO

CTO, Chief Technology Officer, Chief Information Officer, CTO Responsibilities, chief information manager

With the rapid expansion of the Software development industry, a well-organized yet flexible management system is needed, to accommodate the quick-pace of production. Having a chain in command, based on the separation of the management position, as well as the flexibility to fit in the structure needed for the specific product is one of the reasons the need for having an operational CTO is becoming more and more important in the world of technology-producing company management.

What does the CTO do, and how important is the position

The definition of a CTO, according to the Oxford Dictionary states:

“A chief technology (or technical) officer, a senior executive with responsibility for managing the technological requirements of a company or other institution.”

Of course, to understand just how important the role is to a successful project we need to have a look at what the responsibilities of a CTO are:

  • Highest technology-specific executive position, a part of the leadership team
  • Often leads the RnD (Research and Development) department and/or the engineering department
  • Strategic planning and decision-making for the project’s end-goals
  • Develops policies that enhance the product’s performance and service quality, while focusing on the experience of the end customer.
  • Actively works on increasing financial revenue and performs an analysis that evaluates the cost-benefit of the taken actions

From my experience working in a java development company, the specific requirements that a CTO fills can easily vary from company to company, or even between projects. 

And while there are many qualities that can eventually build-up to create a great CTO, some of the following are definitely a great benefit, when working towards taking the mantle of the position.

What Are Some Great Qualities of a Chief Technical Operations?

1. Technical Expertise

Naturally, as the name suggests, having the strong technical expertise and an excellent understanding of the project’s choice of technology and the basis of the applied execution methods (in the least), is invaluable.

To be able to adequately evaluate how the project development is moving along and how to guide it in the right direction for the end goal in mind, a deep understanding of the subject matter is required.

Looking at the project from the standpoint of a former, but still well-versed, or current developer allows for leading the development process by combines both the management requirements and maintaining the product’s high quality from a technical perspective.

In fact, many successful CTOs have reached this position starting their careers as developers.  

2. Consumer focus

As a part of the leadership team that needs to account for the software to be satisfactory to the end-user, the CEO needs to be updated on the software’s performance, and navigate the production process in a way that targets the customer’s needs.

This may take different forms. From being familiar with potential competitors, and developing strategies to offer better performance than what is already on the market, to working on the process to bring in new and optimized features, that have not been implemented before. 

3. Team Oriented focus

Naturally, in order to navigate and assure that the needed processes are taken care of in the production process, the CTO has a strong team focus with the RnD and the development team. The involvement is consistent and reliable, and the CTO oversees and influences the process as it is ongoing, rather than modifying the already submitted product or demanding big changes.

4. Communication skills

As the person who fills the spot of a mediator between the business side of the project, and the technical requirements of a tech lead, the CTO must be able to communicate effectively with different people. 

Being able to understand and talk to different kinds of people will go a long way to pave the way to being a great CTO. As the person who is in the chain of command, the CTO directly influences how the product turns out, and being able to relay information to the different work structures, limits the risks of a “language barrier” in terms of the tech lingo, and limits misunderstandings.

5. Leadership Sense

Everyone may end up leading a group of people towards a common goal. But that is not to say that everyone is good at doing so. Leadership takes more than simply having the authority to call the shots and demand results from employees. 

What differentiates a good leader from the run of the mill “boss”, is being able to inspire passion for the project, nurture all potentially helpful ideas and accepts feedback, to further improve upon the service, a CTO provides to the team.

6. Excellent Project Management

In a software development project, it is easy to get caught up in the deadlines and the constant rush to put out a product that is in demand before someone else does. And having deadlines is a must – without the time pressure, it is unlikely that the same results would be observed.

The difference is in Project Management and planning. Time – efficiency should not come at the cost of product quality. Making it a priority to dedicate enough time, and more importantly, focus, on each individual task, that is needed for the project.

Why it Matters to be a Good CTO?

CTO is a key position in Software Development Companies, that plays a big role in the overall execution of the project. As a part of the leadership team, the Chief Technical Officer takes on various responsibilities that are intertwined between team leadership and overlooking the development process from a technical point of view. It has proven to be successful especially thanks to the unique mix of qualities and requirements that are observed in a good CTO.

The difference is not how many programming languages a CTO has mastered, or what business degree they acquired – if any – it is about the qualities and skills that they have acquired, that make a good mix for being an effective CTO. What do you think is a quality that makes for a good CTO? 


Author’s Bio: Danila is a Tech-Enthusiast and part of Dreamix, a custom software development company. She has a strong passion for blogging, practical design, innovation, and gadgets. With a background in mathematics and informatics, she explores the software development process from production to business management. 


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