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What is a CTO?

The CTO or Chief Technical Officer is the guarantor of the technical team. He will be the interface between the Business/Product and Technical vision of the company. In most cases, his role will combine a variable proportion of Technical and Management. Other names : Technical Director.

Which companies are recruiting for this profession?

Just like the Back-end and Front-end profiles, all companies that want to carry out an IT project. As soon as there is a technical team, whatever their role, there is a CTO.

Why do companies need this job?

Just as a company needs a CEO to oversee the company's vision, team management and strategy, it also needs a CTO to oversee a technical project, manage a tech team and define the strategy in terms of organization and technological choices.

In a tech company, he often has the same level of importance as the CEO and often makes up the duo of co-founders. One representing the understanding of the market and the need and the other representing the technical solution to that need.

What impact does this profile have on the business? What happens if the company cannot recruit this profile?

Its impact on the business is probably one of the most important if not the most important, since it is the guarantor of the technical solution (from an operational, technological and managerial point of view) and therefore of the product/service that will be sold on the business side.

What are the missions of a CTO?

We identify 3 types of CTO, corresponding to 3 major phases of maturity of an Enterprise:

  • CTO n°1: First member of the technical team, close to the code, he will be in charge of making the technological choices and developing the first bricks as well as setting up the architecture. This is often the case for early-stage structures.
  • CTO n°2: In the middle of a growth phase and structuring of his technical team, he mixes recruitment, management of the first members (distribution of tasks, accountability, mentoring, code review...) and remains very active on individual contributions, often on the most complex issues. The division of his working time between Tech and Management is about 50/50.
  • CTO n°3: On much larger teams, he/she is mainly in charge of team structuring, technical vision, budget management, management of the various team members and is far removed from the code, on which he/she is almost exclusively involved in support. He is also responsible for training and increasing the skills of his team.

The different CTO profiles are obviously defined according to the CTO's skills and the circumstances in which the various projects evolve, but in all cases he or she will be in charge of defining the roadmap.

Who does the profile work with in the company?

CEO: In close collaboration, their work is complementary since the CTO technically translates the solution elaborated by the CEO in connection with his understanding of the market.

Tech Manager (VP/Engineering Manager/Lead): The larger the tech team, the more he/she will have to delegate operational, managerial and technological issues to the tech managers.

Tech team: in the context of a small tech team, he/she is in direct collaboration and management with the operational staff. He may also be required to be operational himself or, as they say, "get his hands dirty".

Product: their collaboration is not always useful, but when the product is very technical, they have to work together, one translating the understanding of the business into technical issues. Their roles are sometimes confused in some companies. When the product is a technology in itself for example.

What is his role in the team?

Its strategic role is more or less strong depending on the company's dependence on tech. His role can go from operational to strategic depending on the maturity of the company and therefore the size of its tech team:

Businesses with which the CTO collaborates

CTO n°1 : first member of the technical team, close to the code, he will be in charge of making the technological choices and developing the first bricks as well as setting up the architecture. This is often the case for early-stage structures.

CTO n°2: in the middle of a growth phase and structuring of his technical team, he mixes recruitment, management of the first members (distribution of tasks, accountability, mentoring, code review...) and remains very active on individual contribution, often on the most complex issues. The division of his work time between Tech and Management is about 50/50.

CTO n°3: on much larger teams, he/she is mainly in charge of team structuring, technical vision, budget management, and management of the various team members. He is also in charge of training and increasing the skills of his team.

What are the problems it solves?

As seen above, it can cover a large number of issues depending on its experience and the maturity stage of a company:

  • Technical: a theoretical knowledge of all technical issues.
  • Technological: a permanent watch enabling him to make the right choices in terms of technologies for his teams.
  • Managerial: very quickly brought to structure and supervise teams, his managerial skills will have a strong and direct impact on the rise in skills of the team and its turnover (and therefore on recruitment).
  • Strategic: taking the right direction at the right time in terms of organization by being able to understand the tech ecosystem and its market.

What are the skills of a CTO?

The CTO must be an expert in the technologies chosen for the project, while remaining open and technically versatile.

Soft skills

Good leadership and an entrepreneurial spirit characterise the CTO. He or she must also be organised, communicative and rigorous to be a good manager and to hold the position of CTO.

Technologies & platforms used

There are no particular technologies, the CTOs are mostly Full-stack profiles with Devops skills in order to be operational on the whole stack, and can develop in parallel an appetence for Mobile, Data or Product issues.

Its excellence is based on its understanding of a set of technologies rather than on technical expertise.

What are the training courses to become a CTO?

A degree in engineering or computer development at Bac + 5 is ideal. The best training afterwards is experience!

What is the salary of a CTO?

Graph of CTO salary ranges by experience

How can a CTO career evolve?

December 8, 2020

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