CTO 3.0: The Neo Chief Technology Officer | Silicon UK Tech News


The role of the CTO has been changing for the past decade. COVID-19 has also had a profound impact on what it means to be a CTO. Also, it’s clear that more human skills – often misleadingly called soft skills – are increasingly important to become a successful CTO. Managing new security environments and supporting their enterprise’s post-pandemic goals are critical components of what it means to be a CTO today.

According to the latest CTO survey from STXNext, over half (53%) of respondents’ state that scaling up innovation across their enterprise was their leading priority. Indeed, prioritizing is also a major challenge for nearly half (49%) of respondents, with continuing security concerns also a high priority for CTOs.

Research by Robert Half also concludes Whilst one of the top strategic priorities for CIOs and CTOs in 2022 is cost reduction and balancing budgets (26%), innovation and investing in new technologies (24%), building 5G capabilities into IT strategy (24%). Cloud projects and initiatives (24%) all ranked highly. This suggests that UK businesses will continue to enhance their online presence over the next 12 months.

And businesses looking to change or expand their CTO role will see potentially stiff competition says Phil Boden, Senior Manager at Robert Half said: “Technology initiatives have been at the heart of many businesses’ pandemic recovery efforts and underpin their plans for future growth, but they are also keen to protect themselves financially by balancing their budgets.”

Boden concluded: “As technology is always advancing, candidates who can adapt and evolve their skills over time are also highly desirable to businesses. Across the board, the level of demand is intense and candidates that meet businesses’ heightened requirements for soft and technical skills are in short supply, so companies should be prepared to compete.”

Russell Reynolds that looked into the minds of the CTO, concluded: “The most successful CTOs tend to have an active and abstract thinking style. They are willing to challenge the status quo and consider novel alternatives. Entrepreneurial and fluid in their approach, they are not likely to be hindered by process and bureaucracy; they have the keen ability to see the big picture.

“CTOs keep their eyes on the prize: they focus on key objectives and are quick to course correct when necessary,” the report continued. “They are business- and results-driven and demonstrate personal investment and involvement in driving initiatives forward. They consistently have a high level of flexibility in style, thinking and action. They tend to be more self-driven and are independent thinkers while being interpersonally reserved.”

Around the table

To gain an insight into what traits currently constitutes today’s CTO and how the role is changing, Silicon UK spoke with a range of specialist and experts.

[TB] Tim Beerman, CTO of Ensono.

As Chief Technology Officer, Tim is responsible for product strategy and development and ensuring those products and service delivery meet the changing needs of clients. He is shaping the internal organization that will continue Ensono’s product evolution and outstanding service delivery. Prior to Ensono, Tim held senior leadership positions in CitiMortgage and Savvis, now part of CenturyLink. A former officer in the United States Air Force, Tim also holds a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Missouri University of Science and Technology.

Beerman, CTO of Ensono.
Beerman, CTO of Ensono.
All photos copyright 2015 by Jenni Kenney Photography and Design

[LW] Laurence Watson, Head of Technology at Subak.

Laurence, a Cambridge and UCL graduate, has been at the intersection of climate, tech and policy for ten years, having previously co-founded data science consultancy Future Energy Associates and working at Carbon Tracker, Ember and the UK parliament. 

Laurence Watson, Head of Technology at Subak.
Laurence Watson, Head of Technology at Subak.

[CU] Chris Underwood, MD at Adastrum Consulting.

With over 20 years of experience in executive search and leadership talent advisory, Chris Underwood has worked for some of the biggest names in the executive search and selection industry before setting up Adastrum Consulting in 2009. Chris has led a wide range of international transformational leadership assignments from CxO to Functional Heads of FTSE 100 companies to venture capital-backed startups in the UK, Europe, and the USA. Rare to the industry, Chris is British Psychological Society (BPS) Level A&B qualified and is trained in several psychometric assessment tools. He studied Aeronautical Engineering at the University of Manchester.

Chris Underwood, MD at Adastrum Consulting.
Chris Underwood, MD at Adastrum Consulting.

[AK] Abby Kearbs, CTO, Puppet Labs.

With nearly twenty years in the tech world, Abby Kearns is a true veteran of the technology industry. Her lengthy career has spanned product marketing, product management and consulting across Fortune 500 companies and startups alike. At Puppet, she will lead the vision and direction of its current and future enterprise product portfolio. Before joining Puppet, Abby was the Executive Director of the Cloud Foundry Foundation, where she focused on driving the Foundation’s vision and growing the open-source project.

Abby Kearbs, CTO, Puppet Labs.
Abby Kearbs, CTO, Puppet Labs.

[MA] Mike Adler, CTO and CPO at N-able.

Mike is responsible for leading N-able’s global technology and product organizations. He previously held executive leadership positions at RSA, Constant Contact and Symantec and has over 20 years of experience in security, mobility and cloud environments.

Mike Adler, CTO and CPO at N-able.
Mike Adler, CTO and CPO at N-able.

[MG] Mathias Golombek, CTO of Exasol.

Mathias joined Exasol back in 2004 as a software developer. He later became the Head of the R&D team before joining the executive board in 2013 as Exasol’s CTO. His primary responsibility is Exasol’s technology, but he’s equally focused on nurturing the company’s unique working environment – a place where smart and passionate people are encouraged to explore and have fun with innovation.

Mathias Golombek, CTO of Exasol.
Mathias Golombek, CTO of Exasol.

[JH] James Harvey, Executive CTO EMEAR and Transformation Director, Cisco AppDynamics.

James Harvey is the EMEAR CTO at Cisco AppDynamics, working with clients to convert performance insights into business outcomes. He is also responsible for setting AppDynamics’ regional product strategy. Before joining Cisco AppDynamics, he held various positions in IT leadership at New Look, BP, Royal Bank of Scotland and ABN AMRO Bank.

James Harvey, Executive CTO EMEAR and Transformation Director, Cisco AppDynamics.
James Harvey, Executive CTO EMEAR and Transformation Director, Cisco AppDynamics.

[SU] Sujit Unni, CTO, PaySafe.

Sujit brings extensive technology transformation experience in lending and payments across banks and fintech firms in the US and UK and has worked for JP Morgan Chase, Vantiv and Barclays. Prior to joining Paysafe in January 2020, Sujit was CIO, Lending Platforms for Barclays UK. He oversaw the technology strategy, architecture and engineering for cards, mortgages and loans for Barclays’ Retail and Business Banking segments.

Sujit Unni, CTO, PaySafe.
Sujit Unni, CTO, PaySafe.

How has the role of Chief Technology Officer changed over the last few years?

“An array of new emerging technologies and the developments of home working means CTO’s must be more flexible than ever. Companies’ strategies are constantly changing to align with new technological developments, so having the flexibility to adapt to these changes to facilitate your company’s utilization of new technology is paramount. Additionally, CTOs need to be connected to the business needs more than ever before, bridging business requirements with new and evolving technical solutions to compete in rapidly evolving markets.”

“You used to find very distinct and defined ‘types’ of CTO. There was the outward facing, vision sharing CTO thinking 3-5 years down the line, and then there was the CTO you’d find in smaller organizations responsible for translating business requirements to technical realities. There was also the CTO that assumed more of a Chief Architect role. What we’re seeing more recently though, is a greater merging of responsibilities among those ‘types’ of CTO. CTOs in smaller organizations are being asked to be more public facing, those in larger organizations are asked to be more directly involved with the technical side of the role and so on.”

“The role of Chief…


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