Evolving CTO Roles and Responsibilities in a Tech Startup


In other industries, safety and compliance usually have a much higher priority. Understanding corporate risk and standards can be painful, but extremely valuable knowledge. The role of the CIO in the company is to develop an information strategy for business management based on advanced digital technologies, as well as to provide its IT components. The CIO also supervises the employees of the IT department and maintains working relationships with other departments of the company and management. CTO develops new frameworks to balance the technical resource usage.

cto roles and responsibilities

The CTO is a specialist in product delivery and software development. Even in non-software companies, the CTO still manages websites, develops apps, and interacts with customers digitally. A CTO has to observe the market for related technology solutions, learn if they suit the company’s tech strategy and set the acquisition goals. In a tech product company, their role intersects with the role of a Chief Product Officer. In other organizations, they are often doing the job traditionally allocated to CIOs.

The title chief technology officer is a relatively new one, made popular in the dot-com boom of the 1990s. Its definition is incredibly fluid, as you would expect given the speed at which the IT industry is innovating, with the role meaning something different in every organization, never mind industry. This executive also presupposes the aptness for further industry learning, since CTOs should bring new tech ideas to the table. Hence, CTOs might need to brew up solutions to possible technical errors if any occur in the project. Thus, before taking on CTO responsibilities, lots of Chief Technology Officers start out as lower-level managers and grow to higher positions.

He needs to ensure that all resources are being efficiently and securely used. He also uses his soft skills to keep https://globalcloudteam.com/ development and engineering teams motivated. The duties can also be shifted at various stages of startup growth.

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While both of them have different roles, they most often work together to achieve the same goal, support and drive business growth. You should have experience leading your teams to successful project development and delivery. CTO not only keeps an eye on new technologies but also provides all necessary resources and guidance to its teams to learn and adopt new technologies. For startups, a CTO usually is a cofounder of the company who builds its prototype and product. In this article, you will learn about Chief Technology Officer roles and responsibilities, what a CTO does and how to become a CTO.

cto roles and responsibilities

Find out what a chief technical officer does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as a chief technical officer. It is embedded in the everyday and the strategic, wherever your organization is in the life cycle. The future of the CTO is in marrying the power of people with the power of technology—and the potential is infinite. Navigating this change requires a diversity of thought, and for business, that means new skills, experiences and potential. Yes, technology teams need a certain level of tech know-how, but more than ever, attitude is taking over from aptitude. This means casting the net wide and considering those from nontech backgrounds and skilling them up if you think that they have the right characteristics to suit the culture and flourish.

Great communication skills

However, how it is achieved depends greatly on a CTO’s personal approach, industry and, more importantly, the stage of a company’s development. Let’s see how different periods of a company’s life require different types of CTO. Another uncommon and prominent example of a female CTO is Gerri Martin-Flickinger. Before joining Starbucks Coffee Company she held senior technical roles at Adobe, McAfee and VeriSign. At Starbucks, Gerri oversees technology strategies that enable continuous improvement of customer experience across the company’s global branches.

While positions in the following categories may only require a few years of experience, people seeking managing or directorial positions should have about 10 years of experience and more. One more point to consider is the CTO experience is always marked in the chief technology officer job description. Almost every CTO began their career by obtaining a bachelor’s computer science degree or a closely related subject. Developing, planning, and overseeing company’s technology strategy is the key role of a CTO. A CTO is experienced and visionary to decide what technologies they should adopt and when. The CTO is also responsible for planning technology budget and resources.

  • That’s why CTOs may use new technology to alter an organization’s business model, products, and services.
  • The CTO role has emerged as a key player in the enterprise C-suite, especially with digital transformation being such a high strategic priority for so many organizations.
  • “The role of the CTO continues to evolve,” says Craig Stephenson, managing director for the North America Technology Officers Practice at organizational consulting firm Korn Ferry.
  • Indeed lists a number of tasks a CTO might be expected to carry out.
  • Furthermore, such meetups may aid in the identification of skilled and experienced developers for future collaboration.
  • In this case, the CTO is primarily an operations manager who is responsible for leading the engineering team.

Thus, they often raise brand awareness at corporate events such as tech conferences. Such breadth of knowledge is essential for far-reaching corporate planning and identifying business objectives. Following this executive job route, however, requires patience and quick learning ability. Salary may depend on level of experience, education and the geographical location. We are a 100% remote company accepting applications from candidates located in British Columbia, Ontario, India, Singapore, EMEA, and the United States. The top three challenges of a CTO are managing talent, innovation, and project priorities.

Understanding the Role of the Chief Technology Officer (CTO)

Slack, for example, had a rocky start until enlisting the help of a third party, MetaLab, to overhaul its website, app, and logos. Thuan Pham is a visionary leader who keeps up with his CTO responsibilities (such as developing technology, eagerness to expand the company’s reach to new platforms). Great intuition, paired with a winning managerial style, were the difference in his instance. After getting acquainted with inspiring chief technical officer samples, we offer you to return to our CTO startup discussion and look at the most common CTO types.

What they mostly need is a strong understanding of the market and product-user interaction. Generally, a chief technology officer has a degree in computer science or engineering, has a strong knowledge of software architecture, design, and programming. Since a CTO should solve engineering problems, a solid development background is required. A Chief Technology Officer is the most skilled technology person in the company.

They work closely with Executives and IT personnel to remove outdated systems and replace them to maintain a competitive edge in their industry. Their job is to hire and train IT Directors or Managers to oversee the IT department and its employees. They may also be responsible for creating training programs to help employees adapt to new technology systems in their daily work environments. A Chief Technology Officer, or , is responsible for overseeing the effectiveness of technology resources within an organization like phone systems or software programs. While a chief executive officer may make the high-stakes decisions that have to be made for a company, in a tech-oriented industry chief technology officers largely inform these decisions.

CTO vs CIO vs VP of Engineering vs Technical director

The faster a CTO at a startup can understand exactly what problem they are trying to solve, and who they are trying to solve it for, the faster they can craft a customer-centric product or experience. In order to craft a strong vision, a CTO needs to have profound technical skills and a thorough understanding of business. CTOs need to have the proper tools to create and channel this vision into something real. Their responsibilities here include coming up with a tech stack, providing budget suggestions, and overall trying to improve their digital product. The role here evolves into more of a tech-visionary, HR specialist, and team leader as opposed to a fully-fledged developer.

A CTO is in charge of developing new services and products as well as improving performance. They also keep up with industry and technology changes and assume responsibility for the company’s technological short- and long-term demands. A CTO leads the technology or engineering department in a company and is responsible for developing technological processes. A Chief Technology Officer’s main duty is to enable a company to reach its financial and marketing goals using an innovative tech approach.

They oversee the development of new products and services, and ensure that the company’s technical capabilities are aligned with its business goals. The CTO is also responsible for managing the research and development budget. In midsize to large companies with higher executive budgets, the C-level may include a CIO and a CTO. Both positions focus on the engineering, implementation, development and management of technology. However, the key difference is that the CIO role typically involves internal operations, while the CTO role focuses on external processes. Regardless of the company’s size, age and budget, the main role of CTO usually comes down to ensuring the company’s technologies satisfy the requirements of its business strategy.

Small & Medium Businesses

Bachelor’s or Graduate’s Degree in computer science, engineering, information technology or information security. A solid education in a technology-related field forms the foundation of a CTO’s professional training. Typically, CTOs come from an educational background in Computer Science, Information Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics.

Chief Technology Officer (CTO): The Definition

During downtime in their office, they review technology trends within their company’s industry and identify the types of IT systems that competitors use. They use this information to draft proposals for new technologies to implement in company operations. A CTO can manage the technical aspects of your company’s vision, bring an advantageous skill set, and be prepared to tackle the routine challenges involved in their duties. Having a CTO with the ability to manage people effectively while teams scale-up is very beneficial for a tech startup. This extends to hiring, setting goals, and in some cases, firing staff. A CTO at a tech startup must have the ability to identify clearly who they are building for and plan the project around these specifications.

A top CTO should understand the product life-cycle and how to build new products and maintain existing ones. You will work directly under the CEO and will act as both a technology and business expert, making decisions that will impact the current and future operations of the company. This Chief Technology Officer job description template is optimized for posting to online job boards or careers pages. Customize it with key duties and responsibilities for your company. Communicate the company’s technology strategy to partners, management, investors and employees.

Required Skill Set of a CTO

Employment growth for information technology specialists is expected to slow as firms hire fewer IT workers and automate more tasks. As automation increases, fewer IT workers will be needed to maintain and update computer systems. In addition, some IT jobs are being sent offshore, reducing the demand for these workers in the United States.


On the other side, a CTO should be able hire a team of people can build and execute his or her vision and strategy. Before a technical person becomes a CTO, he or she usually had held several senior technology roles such as a director or a VP. To understand customers’ cto roles and responsibilities needs and business problems, a CTO often engage with customers business needs and communicate with them with possible solution. As businesses become more reliant on technology, there is an increasing need for collaboration between IT and business leaders.

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