Do you want to become a Chief Technology Officer, or are you just curious about the role?

If you want your keyboard to remain your closest friend, you can stop reading right here, being a CTO is much more than just being a talented developer. But if you want to get some insights from three experienced Barcelona-based CTOs, please continue reading.

Investing time in your team is the most important task, even more important than focusing on your product.

Right place at the right time

Roger Campos from Camaloon (to the left) says that personal experience is much more important than how many years you have worked in a company.

In the startup world not all decisions within the company are carefully planned and executed according to the planned strategy.

Pau Ramon Revilla, former CTO of Redbooth, and currently founder at Factorial felt he was at the right place at the right time when stepped up as CTO for the first time.

I started at Redbooth, living on the founders sofa in San Francisco, coding for a roof over my head, so I wasn’t a very expensive developer. But as I went back to Barcelona, the former CTO and the tech lead left, and I was asked to be the new CTO.

For others it’s more of a transitioning after starting a company from scratch.

Both Albert Bellonch at Quipu and Roger Campos at Camaloon founded their startups, and gradually grew into the CTO role as their companies grew. Roger never really set out to become head of tech at Camaloon:

It was never a goal of mine to become a CTO, but you take on responsibility and do your best to grow a great team.

The biggest challenge — new developers

A huge challenge for most CTOs these days is finding talented developers in a highly competitive job market.

CTO Pau Ramon Revilla and Roger Campos says personal motivation is key when hiring new developers.

But what kind of developers are most tech leaders looking for?

They all agree that the most important aspect when hiring, is personal motivation, and if the person is willing to go deep in all kinds of challenges he or she faces.

Experience is important, but having worked for many years, is not necessarily the only metric that is valued, say Roger:

If a developer has worked in five different jobs the last years, doing the exact same task, to me he is less experienced than a younger developer, that has worked on many personal projects and faced complex challenges.

Pau gives junior developers two tips:

The startup world may be too harsh for many junior developers. To get the right kind of experience I would advice to contribute a lot in open source, and maybe take a job in a big corporation the first years.

https://upscri.be/285782-2

Invest in people

People have different skills and methods on how to lead a technical team, but the three CTOs agree that people is the most important focus for them in their work. Pau explains:

Depending on the company, most of the time the development team will be the most valuable asset, sometimes even more than the product itself.

All the CTO’s agree, and Roger says:

My biggest task and most important mission is to talk with people. Talk with my team, with the rest of the company and external people, that’s most of my job.

I keep coding to keep my sanity

Albert Bellonch (to the left) is still coding every day at Quipu, but will soon have to stop to code on a daily basis because his team is growing a lot.

It’s no secret that time spent coding decreases a lot when you move over to the role of being a leader.

Albert is currently leading a 4–5 development team at Quipu. He’s happy he’s still able to code every day:

I still code on a daily basis, and I’ve been able to create some cool new features for Quipu, but as my team grows by the months, I will soon stop coding every day.

Soft skills

A developer that has the aspiration of becoming a CTO should have a lot of experience, but there’s also other skills that are vital, says Pau:

Focus on the soft skills, you need to be able to reach a consensus with people, not only focus on your own opinions.

All the CTOs agree that you don’t need to be the best developer in the company to lead the development team, but there are some skills that are good to know these days, according to Roger.

It’s hard to point to one kind of technology, because everything depends on what kind of project you’re working on, but Javascript is probably the safest bet for a developer today.

(If you want more insights, check out the video at the top!)

……..

This post was written by Sindre Hopland and the video was edited by Masumi Mutsuda — the itnig media team.

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O.

On sales leadership

These are some values that I learned that define a leader:

– A leader is somebody who reaches their goals and achieves beyond their individual abilities aligned with their own values and the organization’s values. A leader without a team is not a leader. A leader works for the team, not the other way around.

– Humbleness. Leaders must get to know themselves first, acknowledge their limitations. Acknowledge they have no recipe for success (no one does). They will succeed only by being curious and trying things faster, testing, changing things again, failing again, learning as fast as possible. In sales, everybody notices when things work well, success is measured in € vs budget. A leader must embrace results with no buts and take action to reach the goals.

– A leader works harder, a leader cares about the goals more than anybody else, they took full ownership of the goals. A leader does about anything to remove bottlenecks away on his team, they assist, train, support everybody, anything it takes. They are always the best resource for their team.

– A leader will always be available for everybody in their team, for personal and professional issues. They go the extra mile. They make sure everybody knows that. They earn the team’s trust.

– A leader makes everyone aware that teamwork is not negotiable. Without a cooperative team, there’s no leader. Lone wolves kill the growing/changing organization. Growth happens only WITH the team, not at their expense.

– Leaders communicate all the time, they don’t keep things to themselves, they are honest with their team. They share good and bad. They share the why’s. They trust their team. Trust precedes process and it is the only path to grow at a scale.

– Leaders learn fast and learn mostly from their team. The team has the most valuable knowledge a leader can get, it doesn’t come from books, blog posts, degrees or mentors. The team gets the real shit from the front line. A leader listens to their teams’ impressions and ideas, they explore them all and give feedback. Leaders generate a culture of idea generation and idea sharing. Leaders stay away from guru preaching.

– It’s important to understand people’s personal and professional ultimate goals and motivations. Leaders spend time asking them on their one on ones and they think about them. They write them down. Everybody is playing the movie of their lives, a leader must find out which one is it, they make sure each team member keeps being the hero of their movie.

– Leaders always lead by example, not by title. They show real bravery. Leaders go first to battle. They call leads and close customers. They apologize to customers when the company screws up. They take the shit first. They don’t leave anyone behind. They don’t show their rank, their status, their difference, their pedigree. Startups are flat meritocratic organizations. Leaders must understand well the company goals and they put them first, they are prepared to step down, or step aside, or leave the company at any moment if needed. Company goals are what matters most. Leaders show this to everyone. Company/collective oriented leaders always thrive.

– Leaders celebrate every victory. They visibly show the pain of every defeat. They take every opportunity to show they care. They analyze why/what/how and find out always changes to be made. Then they go and make the changes. They change anything or everything, but never keep on doing what doesn’t work. They shake the whole company inside out before/when goals are not met.

– Leaders set goals that are both ambitious and achievable. They work along the team to make sure they meet the goals. They are flexible when the goals are set wrong. They are implacable when goals are not met.

Most people will never be a leader. It takes time and patience, it takes survival skills, it takes real personal strength. But after committing to all these things, things start to work. Leaders are such when and only when they brought teams to make things work, nobody becomes a leader just by trying it. True leaders make sure they don’t leave the boat until things work (as they will work, ultimately!). They don’t leave the job undone.

– Bernat Farrero CEO at Itnig