CTO role explained for engineers

Alireza Bonab
7 min readOct 10, 2021

If you are an engineer and recently found a new job as a CTO (Chief technology officer) or are promoted to this role, this article could give you some idea of what is this role is about.

Disclaimer: This article is not about how to do it, it’s just a try to present a big picture of this role.

Introduction

From an engineer’s perspective, the CTO position looks like a fully technical position with decisions focused on tech stacks and CTO should have great coding skills but it is important to know that in reality, It is a more management and leadership position.

The main duty of a CTO is to build an organization that serves the business. The most important thing is the business and its growth and continuation. A CTO is responsible to make sure production roles, Also makes sure the production line is agile enough to fast changes, The production line should have the elasticity to scale up and down based on business requirements.

Being a CTO in a tech company means building teams, decisions on infrastructures, staffing, and hiring, budgeting, facilitate and organize communication across your organization, define data access levels and authorization, security, decide how much to delegate to third party services, and how much invest on in house development, and etc.

In early-stage startups happens that CTO writes code every day, setups CI/CD pipelines, or even makes decisions on the UI/UX of the product. It is totally Ok but as time passes and the organization grows the CTO should build teams and delegate these tasks to specialists.

Orchestration vs Hands-on Code

Being a CTO in a tech company is like a music orchestrator for an orchestra, your role is more orchestration and less detail-oriented stuff. You find the right people for the right positions, try to get their best, try to harmonize them, find the best tool for them, and all of this is for the performing on stage.

If you have an engineering background, you should prepare yourself for a paradigm shift.

The way an engineer’s mind works is to pursue only one problem at a time till it gets resolve but it is not helpful for a CTO position. The big change is that you…

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Alireza Bonab

Entrepreneur in Spirit, Engineer by Training, Adventurist by Nature