My LinkedIn tag line makes reference to me as an “aspiring CTO”. I recently got
asked what this means to me. With a little encouragement from the person who asked me, I’ve decided to formalise it in
a blog post; of course I’ve edited it from the original response, but it’s my content so I’m allowed to do that.
To me, being an aspiring CTO is a statement of an end-goal; but it once I reach that position it isn’t the end of the
journey, it is just the beginning.
For around 25 years I’ve been in a variety of technical roles; some of these have involved running my own business, and
most have involved interacting directly with customers and end-users. This has given me a good understanding of both
the technical challenges and the business challenges faced by businesses. I also have team leadership
experience, both through providing mentoring and coaching to team leaders, and through providing advice and views to
CTOs; although my direct team leadership has been limited, I have always sought to lead from behind as a team member and
I have grasped the opportunity to provide leadership when the opportunity arises.
Over the last 5 years I’ve found my interest in leadership overtake my interest in coding. This led me on a path of
self-assessment and discovery that has solidified in my mind my desire to move into a purely leadership role and
ultimately aim for a CTO role. I mentioned at the start of this that becoming a CTO is just the beginning of a journey;
that is because the position of CTO is so varied depending on company size and structure. My background in SaaS
organisations means that I am likely to begin my CTO journey in a smaller start-up or scale-up organisation; assuming
this the CTO role that I first achieve, over time I would see the journey as leading me into a similarly titled role at
larger organisations. This is not to say that this is the only path way that I would consider, nor is it to say that I
MUST have a CTO role at some point in my career.
Getting back to what I think “aspiring CTO” means; it means that I am wanting to move from a technical career into a
leadership career; it means I want to use my skills in leadership, my passion for people and seeing others succeed, and
my vast technical experience to help a business and the employees of the business succeed. It’s also important to note
that it does not mean my next step requires a role with the “CTO” title, in fact it would be fair to say that I’m
unlikely to accept a CTO role at this time unless it is the exact role I feel I could thrive in with my current skill
As I journey toward becoming a CTO and then proceed beyond my first CTO role to become CTO of larger organisations I
feel my next step is likely to be into a leadership position; perhaps as a Scrum master, maybe as a team leader or
delivery lead, maybe In another role. It will be an opportunity that allows me to help, coach and mentor others to
succeed; a role that I can measure my success by the success of others; a role that allows me to have a positive impact
on both the business and the people without having to write code all day.