Which Type of CTO Are You?

Posted: 19 Dec 2018

Which Type of CTO Are You?

Recently, the global VMware hosting provider Access Alto suggested that there are four distinct types of chief technology officer.

These four types of CTO are broken down as follows:

  • The Infrastructure Commander is expected to oversee the IT infrastructure of their organisation. Typically, CTOs in this category work for established organisations where they tend to implement rather than set the organisation’s technical strategy.
  • The Technology Visionary has usually worked in their organisation from its inception, devising the blueprint for how technology is used to achieve the organisation’s goals. CTOs in this category also seek out future uses of technology and develop strategies to drive the business forward.
  • The Customer Champion focuses on problem-solving and/or has a customer-facing role. CTOs in this category have the ability to bring people together. They demonstrate a deep understanding of their organisation’s markets and strive to deliver excellence in UI and UX.
  • The Big Thinker focuses on driving the business to achieve its full potential. To push boundaries, they need a close relationship with the CEO and senior management team. Big Thinkers like to be in charge of creating business models and have a substantial role in developing the corporate strategy of the company.

While it is interesting to look at these categories as an exercise in self-awareness, in reality, many CTOs have characteristics of more than one type. Until recently, leadership roles in technology were usually either externally focused like the role of the CTO, or internally focused like the role of the Chief Information Officer. However, today Eolas Recruitment is seeing new C-suite titles emerge reflecting the growing importance of data and technology across many different business sectors.

CTO leadership skills

So, rather than focusing on CTO types, it is perhaps more useful to think about the competencies CTOs need in order to be effective members of their organisation’s leadership team. Technical competencies are a given along with project management and problem-solving capabilities. Without the required qualifications and technical expertise, IT professionals are unlikely to progress to a CTO role.

Aspiring CTOs need to continuously update their own capabilities and those of their teams. This had implications not just for individuals but also for organisations in terms of how they provide learning opportunities, performance management and career development.

Once in a senior role, technical skills alone will not make the CTO a good leader. In an environment where technology is transforming many sectors of the economy, it is vital that CTOs keep up with sectoral, legal and regulatory changes. Collaboration has become very important in some sectors so CTOs with strong communication and interpersonal skills have an advantage. Softer skills don’t always come naturally but they can be developed through continuous professional education, self-directed learning, coaching and experience.

CTO jobs

When it comes to career progression, there is no shortage of opportunities for high performing C-suite IT professionals. Data analytics, data protection, cybersecurity and artificial intelligence are just some of the areas gathering momentum. As well as roles for CTOs, Eolas Recruitment is seeing increased demand for Chief Information Officers, Chief Data Officers, Chief Digital Officers and so on. Not all opportunities are advertised and not all potential candidates will want to show their interest in making a move from their current employer. However, if you are interested in making a move, it’s never too early to have a confidential chat with one of our specialist recruiters. That way you’ll be on our radar when a suitable opportunity arises.


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