Do you want to become a Chief Technology Officer, or are you just curious about the role?
If you want your keyboard to remain your closest friend, you can stop reading right here, being a CTO is much more than just being a talented developer. But if you want to get some insights from three experienced Barcelona-based CTOs, please continue reading.
Investing time in your team is the most important task, even more important than focusing on your product.
Right place at the right time
In the startup world not all decisions within the company are carefully planned and executed according to the planned strategy.
Pau Ramon Revilla, former CTO of Redbooth, and currently founder at Factorial felt he was at the right place at the right time when stepped up as CTO for the first time.
I started at Redbooth, living on the founders sofa in San Francisco, coding for a roof over my head, so I wasn’t a very expensive developer. But as I went back to Barcelona, the former CTO and the tech lead left, and I was asked to be the new CTO.
For others it’s more of a transitioning after starting a company from scratch.
Both Albert Bellonch at Quipu and Roger Campos at Camaloon founded their startups, and gradually grew into the CTO role as their companies grew. Roger never really set out to become head of tech at Camaloon:
It was never a goal of mine to become a CTO, but you take on responsibility and do your best to grow a great team.
The biggest challenge — new developers
A huge challenge for most CTOs these days is finding talented developers in a highly competitive job market.
But what kind of developers are most tech leaders looking for?
They all agree that the most important aspect when hiring, is personal motivation, and if the person is willing to go deep in all kinds of challenges he or she faces.
Experience is important, but having worked for many years, is not necessarily the only metric that is valued, say Roger:
If a developer has worked in five different jobs the last years, doing the exact same task, to me he is less experienced than a younger developer, that has worked on many personal projects and faced complex challenges.
Pau gives junior developers two tips:
The startup world may be too harsh for many junior developers. To get the right kind of experience I would advice to contribute a lot in open source, and maybe take a job in a big corporation the first years.
Invest in people
People have different skills and methods on how to lead a technical team, but the three CTOs agree that people is the most important focus for them in their work. Pau explains:
Depending on the company, most of the time the development team will be the most valuable asset, sometimes even more than the product itself.
All the CTO’s agree, and Roger says:
My biggest task and most important mission is to talk with people. Talk with my team, with the rest of the company and external people, that’s most of my job.
I keep coding to keep my sanity
It’s no secret that time spent coding decreases a lot when you move over to the role of being a leader.
Albert is currently leading a 4–5 development team at Quipu. He’s happy he’s still able to code every day:
I still code on a daily basis, and I’ve been able to create some cool new features for Quipu, but as my team grows by the months, I will soon stop coding every day.
A developer that has the aspiration of becoming a CTO should have a lot of experience, but there’s also other skills that are vital, says Pau:
Focus on the soft skills, you need to be able to reach a consensus with people, not only focus on your own opinions.
All the CTOs agree that you don’t need to be the best developer in the company to lead the development team, but there are some skills that are good to know these days, according to Roger.
(If you want more insights, check out the video at the top!)