By Aron Brand, CTERA Networks
Your software company’s Chief Technology Officer is inevitably one of the most important people on your leadership team. Whether you are looking to hire your first CTO or replace an outgoing one, you want to make sure the right type of person fills the role. According to Aron Brand, CTO of CTERA Networks, that right person has to wear many hats. Read on to learn how Brand views his CTO role as one that extends beyond the technical aspects of the job description. For more insights from Brand, check out his Executive Profile in the April 2018 issue of Software Executive magazine.
Over the last 10 years I have been lucky to be in the role of CTO at CTERA Networks. We're a successful software company focusing on secure storage solutions. We sell our software to large enterprise organizations which need a more secure alternative to cloud file services.
You may think of a chief technology officer as somebody who views the technology from ten thousand feet, involved in long term vision of the company and high-level architecture. But at least for me, this is only a small part of the truth.
It is true that as a CTO you need to make important decisions about long term product strategy and to define the technological vision of the company.
But what I love about being a CTO in a technology company is that it is a multidisciplinary role. There are many down to earth areas where you can contribute to the success of the company. For one, you need to have true understanding of how people interact with technology. You should use this knowledge to imagine how those interactions can become simpler and more streamlined.
You should also be partly a product manager; trying to predict customer needs and see how they can fit into your existing or future product line. You should always be alert to incoming needs coming in from the field, and to understand what the current gaps in your offering are, and to use your deep understanding of your technology assets to make recommendations on how and where the company needs to invest.
You also need to be involved in marketing. Techies often dismiss marketing as phony and non-technical. But in fact, it is vital to the success of the company. The CTO should take a role in articulating to the marketing people, where the true value of the company technology lies. As CTO you should act as a technology evangelist. You should represent the technological vision of the company both internally and externally.
The role of CTO is vital to the success of technology organizations. CTOs tend to define their roles differently. But here is my take at it. A CTO needs to combine the nerdy skills of a tech visionary with deep understanding of product management. To that you should add a sprinkle of UX and a handful of marketing.
Above all, the key to a successful role CTO is to help other people succeed. Your office should be open to each employee, whether it’s a software developer, product manager, support engineer or marketing person. Most people in the company don't have a full understanding of how the stuff that you make is built at the deep level. By becoming a focal point for knowledge, you are in a unique position to help people succeed. Whether by writing better code, delivering a better pitch, or making smarter decisions.
I’m a CTO of a young software company that’s trying to completely revolutionize the data storage industry. And it’s the best job in the world.
About The Author
Aron Brand, CTO of CTERA Networks, has more than 22 years of experience in designing and implementing distributed software systems. Prior to joining the founding team of CTERA, Aron acted as Chief Architect of SofaWare Technologies, a Check Point company, where he led the design of security software and appliances for the service provider and enterprise markets. Previously, Aron developed software at IDF’s Elite Technology Unit 8200. He holds a BSc degree in computer science and business administration from Tel-Aviv University.
CTERA, founded in 2008, is a secure storage software company with 35,000+ customers in 110+ countries.