CTO Talk – What is a CTO?
Our CTO Brad Mallard has been with us for just over a year and in this series he’s taking a look back at the last twelve months and forward to the future at Version 1. In this blog, he’s diving into what the title of CTO really means.
I’ve heard so many definitions of what CTO means.
Lots of people place impetus on the ‘T’ being ‘Technology’ and I really have an ingrained love and passion for technology which has always driven me. I’m still consistently excited by the application of technology every day.
But CTOs come in many forms, and actually the role of the CTO (in larger organisations in particular, it’s different in startups) isn’t what people expect it to be. I have had a number of people say: “How are you going to do this, you’re going to have to be the most technical person out of 3,500?!”
People expect you to know the answer to every technical question and be the biggest and deepest technologist in the company.
Well, if that was the case, then I would have failed from day one! For me, that’s not what being a CTO is about. As with any C-suite role, my role is about people. It’s about vision. It’s about giving people the environment and the space to innovate and grow. It’s also about giving the company the ability and vision to have an exciting future. That’s the true role of a CTO.
It can be a challenge because on some level, the role is about exciting a technology company with technology. But you also must try to answer some big questions:
- What do we do?
- How do we do it?
- What sets us apart from other companies?
Every day, we have to find new ways to use technology that is better or faster or more efficient than before. We must create new service offerings and capabilities that customers can benefit from and make sure we have the skills and the ability to deliver against that. All of those elements make up the crux of being a CTO.
Quite often, I’m the least technical person in the room, because the pool of talent inside Version 1 is so fantastic and so deep and so driven and so customer focused that I couldn’t possibly compete with the vast majority of our organisation. I’m a piece of the puzzle that effectively makes sure everything we deliver follows the vision and direction we want to go in, and that it does so appropriately embracing technology, sustainably.
The final piece of the puzzle is the customer angle, and how do we make sure that we can offer the true breadth and depth of our capabilities to our customers.
What we’ve offered and delivered to our customers has been truly magical at times and makes me so proud.
The problems we have solved and the methods we have used have been truly transformative, so one other part of my job is to ensure that we’re communicating those solutions to the world. To apply what we’ve learned to new customers, and cross pollinate knowledge internally and externally.
Connecting people at a customer-to-customer level or a CXO to CXO level is another reason why I love my job. I talk to many people at different levels but the beauty of that is I get to hear a lot and learn a lot. Innovation connects people in valuable ways. Connection is really important to me.
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