What Skills Are Essential for CTOs Today?

What Skills Are Essential for CTOs Today?

What Skills Are Essential for CTOs Today?

Chief Technology Officers are navigating an ever-evolving tech world, and we’ve gathered insights from CEOs and CTOs to pinpoint the most crucial skills for today’s CTOs. From embracing adaptability as a strategic compass to prioritizing with pragmatic thinking skills, explore the diverse perspectives of fifteen industry leaders on the essential skills for CTOs.

  • Embrace Adaptability as a Strategic Compass
  • Align New Tech with Ethical Company Goals
  • Balance Innovation with Strategic Risk Management
  • Cultivate Curiosity for Technological Advancements
  • Master Communication to Bridge Gaps Effectively
  • Use Resourcefulness as a CTO’s Superpower
  • Lead with Ethical Technology Use
  • Understand Client Needs for Targeted Solutions
  • Set Effective Goals for Technological Growth
  • Be a Business Leader with Digital Expertise
  • Adopt an Innovative Mindset for Continuous Reinvention
  • Practice a Growth Mindset with the Tech Landscape
  • Combine Deep Tech Focus with User Empathy
  • Master Operational Efficiency for Organizational Agility
  • Prioritize with Pragmatic Thinking Skills


Embrace Adaptability as a Strategic Compass

Adaptability is the paramount skill for Chief Technology Officers today. In the ever-evolving tech landscape, swift and effective pivoting is essential. A CTO’s role, much like using Notion for its flexibility in managing both routine and innovative tasks, requires a dynamic approach to change. 

Three years ago, LITSLINK had a major leap in the number of clients. When the number of tasks doubles, you need a comprehensive shift in strategy to tackle unforeseen challenges. Think of a CTO as a captain steering a ship through unpredictable seas. Adaptability is what ensures the team navigates through the tumult and emerges stronger, ready to seize new opportunities. Embrace adaptability—it’s your strategic compass in the unpredictable journey of technology.

Viacheslav Petrenko, Chief Technology Officer, LITSLINK


Align New Tech with Ethical Company Goals

Today, a CTO’s ability to adapt to rapid changes is non-negotiable. This skill is especially crucial with the rise of generative AI, demanding a swift embrace of new technologies while aligning them with the company’s broader goals.

It’s about seeing beyond the tech itself to its practical application, ensuring it drives growth, enhances team capabilities, and upholds ethical standards. For a CTO, it’s not enough to just keep up with the latest tech; you’ve got to guide your team through these changes smartly and ethically to really win in the long run.

Tobias Liebsch, Co-Founder,


Balance Innovation with Strategic Risk Management

In the tech sector, the ability to foster and drive innovation while managing risk stands out as an essential skill for Chief Technology Officers (CTOs). Leveraging my tenure at TechTrone IT Services, I’ve found that fostering a culture of innovation within the framework of strategic risk management enables sustainable growth and resilience. For example, when we transitioned a client’s data infrastructure to the cloud, prioritizing innovative cloud solutions allowed us to significantly increase their operational efficiency and scalability. However, this also necessitated the incorporation of robust cybersecurity measures, balancing innovation with risk mitigation.

Additionally, the implementation of project management software across various projects has underscored the importance of adopting innovative tools for enhanced communication and efficiency. By selecting and tailoring these tools to fit our specific needs, we’ve been able to streamline project delivery and improve team collaboration, demonstrating the CTO’s role in driving technological innovation that aligns with strategic business objectives.

On a broader scale, engaging with the latest advancements in tech, such as cybersecurity practices and cloud computing options, has not only positioned us as industry leaders but also cemented my belief that a CTO’s ability to balance innovation with risk is crucial. By effectively navigating this balance, CTOs can propel their organizations forward, ensuring they remain competitive and resilient in the fast-evolving digital landscape.

Remon Elsayea, IT Consultant, Techtrone


Cultivate Curiosity for Technological Advancements

Precisely because tech changes so quickly, I think the single most important skill a CTO can have is cultivated curiosity.

More than anyone else in the C-Suite, the CTO needs to have their finger on the pulse of rising technology. Every day, the smartest people in the world are striving to create faster, more efficient, and more comprehensive solutions. Any one of them could turn into a force multiplier for your business—but you have to be looking for it.

Staying curious as a CTO doesn’t just mean reading about these rising advancements. It means evaluating each one for its potential utility at your company and staying open to incorporating those that make sense.

Zak Lefevre, CEO, ChargeLab


Master Communication to Bridge Gaps Effectively

Communication is an overlooked, essential skill for CTOs. As technology evolves, the underlying complexities become harder to manage, and technical skills alone are not enough for the role. 

A CTO is an interpreter who bridges the gap between technical complexities and the boardroom’s decisions. Imagine you are a CTO. You discover your company’s VMware hosts are nearing end-of-support, and you are stuck on a vulnerable version 6.0. The board can’t understand the technical reasons behind this problem. 

However, they do care about the security risk of running unsupported software because the company will lose their Cyber Essentials+ certification, which means losing clients who will terminate their contracts. Every tech professional can describe the problem, but not everyone can explain a technical problem in business terms. 

A CTO with great communication skills will translate the problem into business consequences. They can get the board’s full attention, securing the resources needed to keep up with the ever-changing tech landscape.

Serhii Antoniuk, CEO, LITSLINK


Use Resourcefulness as a CTO’s Superpower

Resourcefulness is definitely a superpower for CTOs today. The tech world changes at lightning speed, so the ability to find solutions, even when there’s no perfect guidebook, is essential. This doesn’t just mean technical troubleshooting—it’s also about creatively utilizing the team’s talent or finding those niche tools that fill a specific need.

When something bad happens, for example, a crucial software update breaks compatibility with your existing systems, a resourceful CTO isn’t just waiting for a fix. They’re finding workarounds, looking into alternative solutions, and mobilizing their team to keep things running as smoothly as possible until the problem is resolved. That’s the kind of person you want to have your back.

Juliet Dreamhunter, Founder & AI Strategist, Juliety


Lead with Ethical Technology Use

In the rapidly evolving field of technology, an essential skill that stands out for Chief Technology Officers (CTOs) is the ability to foster and maintain a culture of ethical technology use within their organizations. In today’s digital age, where technology profoundly impacts society, ensuring that innovations are developed and deployed responsibly is paramount.

A CTO with a strong ethical foundation can guide their team in considering the broader implications of the technologies they develop, including privacy concerns, ethical AI use, and the societal impact of their products and services. This skill is not just about adhering to regulations but about leading with a vision that prioritizes ethical considerations in all technological endeavors, thereby building trust and credibility with customers and the wider community.

Amit Doshi, Founder & CEO, MyTurn


Understand Client Needs for Targeted Solutions

The ability of CTOs to thoroughly comprehend client needs stands out as a critical skill in today’s tech landscape. This client-centric approach ensures that technological solutions align with business objectives, driving innovation that addresses real-world challenges and delivers customer value. 

By actively engaging in user research, customer interviews, and data analysis, CTOs can deeply understand their clients’ challenges and opportunities.

Michael Sena, CEO & Lead Analytics Consultant, Senacea Ltd.


Set Effective Goals for Technological Growth

I believe CTOs are primarily expected to foster an engineering culture focusing on quality and improvement of processes, people, and the overall company. While you might have to push hard for deadlines or address the company’s immediate needs sometimes, it’s your job as CTO to balance that with big-picture stuff, giving the code, architecture, and framework the gentle TLC it needs from time to time.

Setting Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-oriented goals for the company’s technology wing is, therefore, an essential skill for CTOs. This requires an understanding of the role that technology plays in an organization and aligning your goals accordingly. For instance, while some organizations might need heavy R&D, others may need to pivot or control costs.

Joe Coletta, Founder & CEO, 180 Engineering


Be a Business Leader with Digital Expertise

In my opinion, a CTO must be primarily a business leader. Essentially, be a leader in business who also has expertise in digital and technology.

Having a broad understanding of finance, procurement, commerce, HR, operations, marketing, etc., is important to stand a good chance of being a senior leader. Many business leaders are not tech-savvy, and they don’t necessarily need to be.

It’s vital to simplify technical terms into plain English and to provide the business rationale—whether it’s cost-effective to develop, simpler to maintain, quicker to modify, and so on. Always speak in business terms, not tech language. You’ll need to lead everyone in the company, so relying on technical jargon isn’t appropriate.

Patrick Beltran, Marketing Director, Ardoz Digital


Adopt an Innovative Mindset for Continuous Reinvention

I’d argue that an innovative mindset is perhaps the most essential skill of all, more so than any specific technical mastery.

See, getting lured into building fortresses around any single software, platform, or system is a surefire path to future obsolescence. The tech currents shift too rapidly. CTOs need to embody a drive for continuous reinvention and creative problem-solving, meaning having a product mindset within IT departments. Constant cycles of iteration, experimentation, and incremental evolution based on evolving user needs and market demands. Innovation as an innate, proactive discipline rather than reactive retrofitting.

Perhaps most crucially, it requires humility and curiosity, superseding stubbornness or egoistic attachment to past ways of working.

Scott Schaper, President, RSM Marketing


Practice a Growth Mindset with the Tech Landscape

Aside from skills like communication and leadership that all executives need, I would say the most crucial thing we look for when filling a CTO role is an adaptable, flexible growth mindset. The technology landscape is always evolving, and at a faster pace today than ever before. Technology leaders need to be proactive in staying current with these developments, continuously growing their knowledge, and adapting their approach to match the current state of the industry and the needs of their team and business. 

Adaptability also allows a CTO to pivot effectively in response to changes in the available technology or regulations surrounding it and enables them to take more calculated risks, and to navigate those risks more effectively, since they are able to change course if things don’t go according to plan. All of these factors make a CTO who has this kind of flexible growth mindset more likely to excel in their role in the long term.

Rob Boyle, Marketing Operations Director, Airswift


Combine Deep Tech Focus with User Empathy

As someone who started their C-level career in a CTO position, I can say that the most essential skill for such a role is being a nerd open to the world. What I mean is that a CTO must maintain a deep focus on technologies, follow all the trends, and make the best decisions regarding the choice of technologies, team management, and cost optimization. 

At the same time, they need to be able to step into the user’s shoes. Such a skill will help to create a compelling and easy-to-use product.

Andrew Skrypnyk, CEO and co-founder, Promova


Master Operational Efficiency for Organizational Agility

In today’s tech landscape, one of the most critical skills for a CTO to master is operational efficiency. Agility and adaptability are paramount, and CTOs must possess the acumen to streamline operations effectively. 

Operational efficiency encompasses optimizing workflows, leveraging technological tools, and orchestrating resources efficiently to achieve organizational objectives. CTOs who excel in this domain enhance productivity and drive innovation by fostering a conducive environment for experimentation and iteration.

Brandon DiCroce, Senior Executive Consultant – Head of Fintech Engineering Search, EC1 Partners


Prioritize with Pragmatic Thinking Skills

From my observation, pragmatic thinking skills are essential for being successful as a CTO, enabling you to approach problems and decision-making in a practical and thoughtful manner. With the need to balance technical issues with business goals and customer needs, this is one skill that can help CTOs prioritize effectively and make decisions that are grounded in reality.

Moreover, pragmatic thinking skills enable CTOs to anticipate potential challenges and plan for them in advance, helping to avoid costly mistakes and disruptions. They also help with communicating effectively with team members, stakeholders, and other departments, fostering collaboration and alignment across the organization.

In today’s rapidly changing technological landscape, the ability to think pragmatically allows CTOs to adapt to unfamiliar situations and make informed decisions based on available information and resources. Overall, these skills are essential to effectively lead teams, drive innovation, and achieve successful outcomes in a competitive business environment.

Ben Lamarche, General Manager, Lock Search Group


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