Introducing CTO Craft: a nudge in the right direction for tech leaders

Welcome to the first official CTO Craft blog post! Here at HQ, we’re on a mission to help CTOs and engineering managers move from having a ‘master-of-one’ skill set, to ‘conquerer-of-all’. No mean feat, but we like to go big or go home. That’s why, over the last few months, we’ve been building our global community of practice; housing some of the world’s top tech leaders, CTO Craft has created a safe space to share knowledge and experience, provide leadership, coaching and workshops, plus offering much-needed support.

Who are we?

CTO Craft’s founder Andy Skipper, is himself an award-winning CTO, having worked on hugely successful projects for Made.com and Comic Relief among others. Already the founder of Saccade — a startup that brings together a pool of freelance CTOs and tech managers to help businesses address their technological needs and ensure product success — Andy wanted to capitalise on his and others’ experience to help fellow tech leaders. Career success can come at a cost and Andy believed others like him could benefit from a collective approach to building skills, develop leadership techniques and ultimately, prevent burnout. The result of this epiphany? A network of the Who’s Who of the tech sphere including CTOs from Graze, Lystable, Shazam, Secret Sales, OneFineStay, Treatwell, Virgin.com and many more, ready and waiting to stop, collaborate and just listen.

What do we do?

CTO Craft members can acquire new skills and develop existing ones to become better managers. This enables them to lead their team by example so those coming up the ladder get the targeted experience they need, too. Whether you’re a first-time or seasoned tech manager, we have something for everyone from peer group mentoring and workshops to one-to-one coaching and regular events (including socials!). Research shows that the acquisition of knowledge is a social process and can be executed through participation in communal learning at different levels (depending on their level of authority or seniority in the group).

Operating under the Chatham House Rule, information is shared freely and naturally through the CTO Craft platform and addresses tech culture, executive hiring, motivation and process. The focus is placed on three key areas:

  • Navigating the ever-changing engineering culture: building and developing leadership skills that bolster team cohesion and productivity
  • Architecture and maintenance of quality tech products: learning the right way to do planning and production
  • Creating sustainable operations, processes and infrastructure: bullet-proofing, project management and constructing secure platforms

In the cutting-edge world of tech and mobile communications CTO Craft can be an invaluable asset for those that want to not only better themselves, but manage juniors more effectively. In addition to helping tech leaders expand their repertoire, mentoring and collaborative working with us can:

Why now?

Many first-time CTOs are expected to build leadership skills on the job, often with no formal support or training. In rapidly changing environments with huge pressure to scale quickly, many find this daunting. Mistakes can therefore be made and confidence, rather than improved, is knocked. The old adage of faking it till you make it has been too readily applied in the tech world and we at CTO Craft want to change that. Speaking to several members of the forum about their experience as new CTOs, it’s no surprise that almost all felt ‘thrown in at the deep end and were given ‘responsibility for anything and everything — even things [we] weren’t good at’.

Harel Malka, founder of Glow Digital Media says his first time as a tech leader was:

‘A rollercoaster of a learning curve. Mainly, letting go, delegating and understanding that the CTO role can be like the ‘three blind men feeling an elephant’ story — everybody sees things differently.’

When pressed on how much formal training they had received to prepare them for such roles, while a couple had sought out extra-curricular mentoring / self-awareness opportunities, the resounding answer was none. And all agreed that training should be a necessity, not an option. Marcus O’Connell, former partner at Beacon Ventures and freelance CTO believes that when he started out, he would have benefitted from: ‘Guidance and discussion on relevant best practices for technical leadership and development processes, perhaps access to other experienced CTOs to discuss ideas with.’ Alistair Stead, CTO of InsurTech incubator Kamet, agrees: ‘I needed a framework of support to help me identify the places to focus my efforts and show progress.’

For those members that have honed their craft, the ability to mentor less experienced tech leaders is what brings them to the table. For Mark Wood of foodbox sensation Graze, it’s about being able to offer his hand to others; this attitude is shared by Joel Greensite, CTO of tenthavenue:

‘I thoroughly enjoy coaching and if I can give back to a community that’s helped me, then it’s the least that I can do.’

Grown from a mere idea to a global community of over 40 experts (and counting), we’re taking the traditional coaching and training model and turning it on its head. Aiding our members face new challenges, create indispensable connections and build confidence in their leadership abilities is our craft; join us to start honing yours today.

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If you, or your CTO / technology lead would benefit from any of the services offered by the CTO Craft community, please visit the website: www.ctocraft.com or contact us via email at: info@ctocraft.com

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