Daisy Warner

Daisy Warner

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July 14, 2023

Hiring a CTO: Role overview, required skills, and when and how to hire

This article looks at what a CTO does, the required skills, when to hire a CTO for a startup and how the hiring process works.

Hiring a CTO: Role overview, required skills, and when and how to hire

Hiring a chief technology officer (CTO) can be pivotal for a startup’s growth. They may be responsible for building a tech solution from scratch or taking an existing product to the next level. Read more below.

What is a CTO?

A CTO’s duties will depend on business needs and the type of tech solution a startup is providing. According to Gartner, Inc., there are four type of CTO personas:

  1. Digital leader: Their focus is on using innovative technologies to transform a product and creating digital strategies. They will lead a team responsible for building platforms to help a startup grow.
  2. Business enabler: They ensure the technology i.e. the software is working as expected and evolving with the business. They will lead a team of engineers and software development team.
  3. IT innovator: This role is responsible for building the technology strategy - keeping systems up to date with emerging technologies.
  4. Chief operating officer of IT: In larger organisations, this persona will focus on daily IT maintenance and management. They will be involved in IT procurement decisions.

Skills and qualifications of a CTO

According to Indeed, CTOs require strong technical and interpersonal skills. They need to be able to communicate effectively with their tech team and other members in order to execute technical strategies.

Other qualities include:

  • Strong leadership skills to coordinate a team of developers.
  • Effective decision-making skills to establish processes for tech development.
  • An in-depth understanding of business needs to align technical strategies
  • Excellent time-management skills to ensure deadlines are met
  • Knowledge and understanding of technological trends and processes
  • A solid understanding of the business model and functions
  • Ability to drive technological innovation

The minimum education requirement for a CTO is a bachelor’s degree in computer science, IT systems or business management.

When to hire a CTO?

While there is no specific roadmap of how or when to hire a CTO there are various factors that will influence the timeline.

More in-depth technical skills required

The CEO or founder may be capable of building the early phases of a tech solution, but in order to level up a B2B tech startup it may be time for a CTO. This may be required early on in a startup journey or further down the line depending on the business needs. A CTO will be able to understand the technical needs and fully invest time and efforts into developing the product.

A leader is needed for the software development team

As the software demands increase, a growing team of developers need a leader to guide their tasks. A CTO can also help build the required software to help scale the business and ensure it is ahead of the competition.

It is time for digital transformation

In order to keep the system and processes up to date a CTO can help streamline the digital transformation journey.

Focus on company growth

To ensure the founder can pursue a startup’s growth, they need to consider hiring a CTO to take care of tech product development and transformation. If a startup is stable and is generating revenue a CTO can help a CEO prioritise their efforts on growing and scaling.

How to hire a CTO?

Hiring for a startup can be challenging due to possible lack of talent and high demand for qualified professionals.

Possible methods for hiring a CTO could include:

  • Define business needs and how a candidate’s skills can align.
  • Determine CTO’s requirements and how their background is a good fit for the solution.
  • Consider expanding search for candidates across different backgrounds and underrepresented groups in the tech industry.
  • Use platforms such as LinkedIn to recruit a CTO for the startup. This is an effective tool to find and connect with qualified professionals in the industry.
  • Check a candidate’s previous experience and qualifications to determine if they are suitable for the role.
  • Assess a CTO’s interest in joining a startup and provide compelling reasons why they would be a good fit.
  • Collaborate with a specialised recruitment firm to identify an ideal candidate.
  • Attend tech events and connect with people in the network to assess suitability for the role.
  • Consider professionals from overseas that may have unique skills, qualifications and experience.
  • Hire a consultant or tech developer first and over time promote them to the CTO position after they have gained exposure to the company and showcased their experience.

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Hiring for a startup? Legislate is a contract management platform that allows businesses to create, manage and track their contracts from day one. Book a demo or sign up today.

The opinions on this page are for general information purposes only and do not constitute legal advice on which you should rely.

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