Inside Startup Tech by Senior CTO, Michael Christensen
Inside Startup Tech by Senior CTO, Michael Christensen
Technology updated 10 months ago

Inside Startup Tech by Senior CTO, Michael Christensen

In this article Michael Christensen shares insightful pieces of information about the role of the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) in the startup environment drawing from his 27 years in the tech industry.

Chief Technology Officer is a complex role that lies at the intersection of business and technology. A CTO is usually seen as a seasoned professional with a combined knowledge of a solutions architect, programmer, DevOps, team leader, and domain expert. The truth is that in a startup environment, the CTO often wears several hats. He or she is obliged to pick up the slack when there’s no opportunity to hire dedicated specialists. 

Knowing the nature of this position allows to shape an ideal portrait of a candidate to support you in your product creation journey.

It’s important to understand the goal of this position within an organization is to ensure the technology strategy is aligned with business needs. Usually, a CTO plays a significant role in the following elements of business:

  • Technology innovation
  • Business transformation 
  • Leadership and management
  • IT operations 
  • IT transformation 
  • Optimization of IT infrastructure
  • Business operations 

When it comes to technology startups, there are three types of CTO.

1. Technical Lead (lead developer). The scope of responsibilities lies in the realm of solution architecture, team leadership, and software development. This type has a lot in common with a senior-level software engineer, who has experience in leading an engineering team.

2. Operational Lead (ex-project manager). This role focuses more on the business side of technology implementation, leaving the daily development tasks to programmers. Operational Leads are strong managers who set up a strategy and orchestrate the engineering effort within an organization.

3. Product owner. This often goes unnoticed, but a product owner can actually play the role of chief technology. Product owners know the ins and outs of the product, as well as the market and users and can turn this knowledge into a business benefit. Instead of managing, he or she guides an engineering team. Bottom line is that a product owner has a vision and excels at communicating it to the team members. 

About Michael Christensen

Michael helps startups - consulting as much as the startup need with the CTO tasks like hire the right people, code-review, take the right tech decision or get me on the pitch deck to get your funds raised etc.

  • Best entrepreneur finalist.
  • CTO at various companies during the last 15 years. Been in the industry since 1994.
  • It’s simple: I get results in an agile world tackling the different stake-holders and don’t forget to get the team with me.
  • Proven track record for more than 300 projects - taking ideas to products and services (primary enterprise solutions for the biggest companies in Europe using the Microsoft Stack).

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