5 skills for the future CTO5 min read

With nearly every company in the last decade investing in digital capabilities, Chief Technology Officers have become more involved in many aspects of a business.

That means they are expected to do way more than just maintain a company’s tech infrastructure.

They are expected to know tech trends inside out, and relay how a new piece of tech is applicable to growth.

They have to be avid multitaskers. Juggling the management of their teams, reporting to fellow C-suite execs and meeting deliverables are all in a day’s work.

What’s more, they require soft skills such as people management and effective communication.

The new breed of CTOs interact with investors, internal staff, journalists and engage public opinion. They are considered one of the faces of the company.

Here are 5 skills for the savvy CTO of the future:

1. Advocating cybersecurity practices

Covid-19 has changed the way we work in one fell swoop. Remote working and working from home are here to stay.

While staff are mostly thrilled at their new work arrangements, the increased use of more external devices for work purposes raises cybersecurity risks.

The responsibility lies on CTOs to map out the best practices when it comes to using personal devices. At the same time, these protective measures cannot compromise workflows.

Companies lose billions to cyberattacks every year. Fortunately, such expensive incidents can be avoided with good IT governance and robust cybersecurity frameworks.

As the head of all things tech in the company, CTOs must emphasise the best practices and protective measures against potential breaches.

2. Knowing who to hire

A sound recruitment plan is key to a successful tech strategy. It is not sufficient to hire only the best or the most capable, but who to hire first.

An example of this is hiring a team leader first, before putting together team members. Glints CTO Seah Ying Cong, or YC as he is known among colleagues, can attest to this.

In Glints’ early days of regional expansion, YC hired a team of engineers from Indonesia first before hiring the team leader. He thought they could contribute immediately since Glints was scaling up so quickly.

But YC soon realised he was too stretched to manage his Indonesian team. This led to constant communication lapses and the team was unsure of their deliverables. They were soon disengaged and became unproductive.

YC’s lesson of avoiding the short-term trap of hiring just to get instant results serves as an example to fast-growing startups.

“Investing the necessary time to hire the right engineering leader would have gone a long way to avoiding that outcome. Not only would they share the immense workload of bootstrapping a team, they would also help you solidify the desired cultural foundation through further hiring and personal influence,” wrote YC.

CTOs of the future need to ensure their hiring practices will deliver results in the long-run.

3. Being a visionary and an innovator

Keeping ahead of tech trends is one of the CTO’s main responsibilities. But it isn’t sufficient to just be in the know.

CTOs need to visualise how technology of the future can impact businesses. They need to harness these technologies selectively, implementing those that yield cost or time savings.

And as most companies are now tech companies, their business potential is only as good as their tech strategies.

Above all, CTOs of the future need to keep an open mind and always be ready for technological changes.

They hold themselves to a positive, can-do attitude, and are stalwarts of these beliefs.

Being an innovative CTO works well for the company image too, as they will be considered an industry thought leader.

4. Effective people management

A tech-driven company is an agile one. That means building a diverse workforce – a team that comprises traditionalists who want to learn new skills, to the fresh-faced grad ready to make an impact on the world.

Such a hybridised team needs a flexible CTO who can engage people from various backgrounds and cultures.

The CTO of the future needs to recognise the unique talents and skills of each team member and delegate tasks accordingly.

Successful CTOs also emphasise on the meaning of teamwork in their company ethos.

They are able to navigate crises and resolve them quickly, instead of sweeping them under the carpet to avoid awkward conversations.

On top of managing the tech teams well, CTOs need to interact with other departments.

Fellow C-suite executives as well as board members look to CTOs for insights, updates and recommendations.

An effective CTO is required to have great people skills as the majority of the work revolves around co-workers and management.

Related: How to build data-driven culture in your business

5. Championing industry collaboration

No man is an island, and this is certainly the case for many industries. Collaboration is the only way industries can move forward and raise standards to new heights.

It doesn’t make sense for a company to operate in silos, when it can benefit from sharing ideas, skills and technology with their peers or even rivals, in a mutual way.

The culture of collaboration is essential to businesses, from startups all the way to legacy companies.

Glints, for instance, is constantly leveraging partnerships to bring value to its markets.

For instance, it is collaborating with the Economic Development Board in an upcoming virtual gathering. CTOs from startups and corporations alike will discuss the tech talent shortage and the ways around it at the event.

There is no room for guarding insights and knowledge in this day and age. A CTO of the future will embrace collaboration as an integral part of the job.