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What does it take to become a CTO? (Chief Technology Officer)

Article by: David Hicks | Published: 15 February 2017
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In the tech world, Chief Technology (CTO) is a title that most IT graduates, software engineers and developers as well as programme managers can only dream of holding one day. For techies, it doesn’t get any better than being a CTO of a top tech company such as Apple or Microsoft. From David Hicks, Founder of the Agil Alliance and Trainer at Agil8.

Invest in a solid education
The most common educational path to a Chief Technology Officer position includes a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field. Employers tend to prefer candidates who have followed up their technical educations with graduate work in business, particularly towards a Master’s of Business Administration (MBA) with a heavy concentration in the technological side of business administration. Qualified candidates will be well-versed in finance, accounting, and management as well as networking, information security, and systems design.

Industry experience
A great deal of industry experience is usually required to become a CTO. Professional certifications in technical domains can help candidates as well, and experience in sales, marketing and finance can also be attractive to employers. Potential CTOs should also demonstrate their leadership and people management skills, as the role will require individuals to manage multiple teams and projects at once.

Building a network of connections
Most business professionals know that building a network of connections is important, but for a CTO it’s vital. The technology landscape is fast paced, and the developments are ever changing so in order to stay on top of industry trends and products, CTOs need to keep their networks open and share their experiences, learnings and successes. Relationships are the catalyst for success and people do business with those they like and trust.

Is there a blueprint for becoming a CTO?
In a recent interactive content piece, Agil8 revealed the blueprint to becoming a CTO. Based on the examples, on average it will take you 24 years from leaving higher education to becoming CTO. You’ll work in 4 companies, in a total of 8 positions, for a maximum of 5 years and minimum of 1 year in any one position. The role of the modern CTO comes with more hats and responsibilities than ever before and there are complex steps to take. Job opportunities for CTOs are expected to be on the rise in the next 5 years and the continued increase of business transactions, interactions and deals made over data networks is cited as the main driver of this. Digital innovations across the technology market, including growth in cloud computing and mobile device usage, has also contributed to the predicted uprise. Are you on the right path to becoming a CTO?