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CTO, the tech lead… by Lluís Inglès

The role of a CTO is to be the bridge between corporate management and the team of developers. It’s a challenging role that Lluís Inglès, with his 12 years of experience, has experienced firsthand. Today, he shares the key factors that make the CTO a crucial piece in the tech sector.

Lluís Inglès is a highly motivated and dynamic Tech Lead. His passion lies in building teams and technology for large-scale companies, improving operational efficiency, and shaping the culture to align with strategic initiatives and organizational goals. He started in the industry as a developer and spent over 11 years working with various technologies. Additionally, he has been leading tech teams since 2012. From 2019, he served as a tech lead at Exoticca, a leading travel package company, before making the leap into the freelance world.

After working at Groupalia, Trovit, Social & Beyond, and Exoticca, I am currently a tech advisor for clients in various sectors. These years of experience leading tech teams have exposed me to different approaches to the CTO role. In this article, I will share some lessons I have learned along the way.

What is a CTO?

According to Chat GPT, “CTO stands for Chief Technology Officer. A CTO is responsible for the technology strategy of an organization. Their main role is to lead and oversee all technology-related activities, including system development and implementation, management of technology infrastructure, information security, and technological innovation.”

It’s difficult to summarize the responsibilities of a CTO, but I would focus on the fact that, as a leadership role, the primary focus is on maximizing the company’s profits and leveraging technology as a channel and tool. This requires being dynamic, constantly pivoting, and effectively conveying this culture to the teams.

Role of a CTO in a company

One of the skills I have learned as a CTO is long-term vision. I admit that it is one of the things I find most challenging and also a characteristic of a good technology strategist. Having this tactical long-term vision is crucial for the organization, not only for financial projections but also for providing a clear and realistic roadmap of what can be achieved, how it will be done, and involving all departments.

Sharing the strategy with your team and making them part of it translates into having teams with high responsibility and empathy. I also believe it’s positive to give credit to the team for their achievements and, without being paternalistic, provide support when things are not going well.

My previous stages were as a programmer, which gives me both a sense of security in understanding technological challenges and the team’s perception of the CTO as their representative and one of them.

The role of a CTO in developer language

  • Building technology and product teams, which involves designing the structures and anticipating their growth over the years.
  • Defending these growth plans with my colleagues in the leadership team and finally presenting them to the Board to have them reflected in the P&L.
  • Helping implement methodologies that streamline and synchronize teams, such as company-wide OKRs and Scrum for tech/product teams.
  • Contributing to code migration strategies, continuously adding value to the user with each sprint and improving the product without interrupting operations.
  • Defining a product/tech roadmap aligned with key stakeholders and involving the entire tech team from the start in decision-making.
  • Designing similar architectures across different teams, allowing for rotation of personnel between squads.
  • Implementing a continuous career plan with job levels based on seniority and fostering ongoing learning, as well as sponsoring conferences.

Being a CTO… and being senior

Experience is usually a key factor in considering someone as senior, but I don’t refer to the number of years of experience; I refer to the value they bring. From my perspective, the key skills are:

  • Mentoring someone with little experience and helping them grow professionally. It’s not just about what you know but how you share it.
  • Getting involved in key projects for the business and taking a strategic approach to how they should be tackled.
  • Prioritizing delivery speed to the customer and effectively managing the eternal engineer’s pursuit of perfection.
  • Speaking the same business metrics language and translating them into development execution priorities.

The Tech Lead’s team and their relationship with developers

Here, each company and position is unique. In my case, during my time at Exoticca, I primarily interacted with the management team and, above all, the technology team. The relationship with the tech team gradually decreased due to the company’s growth.

Regarding soft skills, I have always aimed for harmony within the teams and prefer enthusiasm and attitude over hyper-specialization. I like to see in candidates the desire to learn and do so alongside their peers. I try to steer clear of those who are overly ambitious to quickly advance solely for financial gain and instead make them understand that it’s a marathon and a hobby to be enjoyed. Promotions and salary increases will come in due time.

Some reflections on being a CTO… from a CTO

The CTO is always at the forefront, and when things aren’t going well, it’s important to navigate those waters. Sometimes, these journeys can be short, while others may be longer, testing resilience. For me, it’s an exciting position that provides a privileged view of the business and the ability to influence the most relevant people and metrics within the company. A good organization transparently shares its metrics and prioritizes projects based on them, thus preventing attempts to bypass these factors.

Don’t neglect your dev side. I love programming, especially the infrastructure aspect, which serves as my outlet. Nonetheless, I truly enjoy positions like CTO, and now, as a freelancer, I’m taking advantage of it by providing advice on team growth, synchronization, and more.

There are thousands of arguments and opinions about which language is better and whether one is more suitable for a particular purpose than another. In my case, I strive to be objective and impartial when it comes to language preferences, focusing first on understanding various factors within a company, such as the main product, budget, traffic, and current state of the stack, among others.

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