Specialist Guide to Hiring a Chief Technology Officer

With precision hiring intelligence™ at the core and humans at the helm, to enable founders, CEO’s, boards, investors and technology leaders to build world-class teams.

The Chief Technology Officer (CTO) is responsible for the company’s technology. Whether the company is trying to adapt to the latest trends in the industry or invest in future innovation or is striving to stay competitive in a constantly changing industry, the CTO is always at the forefront leading the company to new successes. The best CTOs are ones who:

  1. Have a deep understanding of current and upcoming technological trends.
  2. Have excellent skills to execute the company vision and strategy to meet business goals and objectives.

It is widely regarded that there are now 4 types of CTO:

Innovative / Disruptive CTO – Technological innovation is changing the world as we know it. This can be a great opportunity for a lot of companies. The innovative CTO creates and effectively implements new business models to keep pace with the changing technology trends and competitor’s strategies.

Strategic CTO – The Chief Technology Officer has the responsibility to plan the company’s technological future. When carrying out strategic plans, the CTO must be able to demonstrate their understanding of the company’s needs and external environment when deciding to implement new technologies with existing one.

Consumer Centric CTO – The Digital transformation is disrupting the CX ecosystem. It has shifted the power back to the customer and has redefined the role of the CTO. The CTO is responsible for delivering customer experience excellence that improves business performance and achieves sustainable growth. The key to create successful consumer applications is to either have a great product team that complement the CTO perfectly or for the CTO to also take onboard the ‘C’ suite product responsibility and depending on the weighting needed here be either a CTPO or CPTO.

Infrastructure CTO – The infrastructure CTO is responsible for how a business uses technology. Today’s CTO must have a strong understanding of the different cloud services and ensure IT systems are being delivered in a timely and effective manner. They also oversee security and maintenance.

As more companies recognize the importance of technology, the CTO position has been gaining recognition. A CTO can be a challenging job. In addition to the deep knowledge and understanding of the customer and company’s current technology, they must have a never-ending curiosity to learn about new technologies and the ability to see the implications and possible uses of such technologies. A CTO must be willing to challenge the status quo especially if the company wants to innovate and build cutting-edge products.

Five reasons why attracting the top candidates is important

David McClelland a Harvard University psychologist who published an article called “Testing for competence rather than for intelligence” defined competency as “an underlying characteristic of an individual that is causally related to criterion-referenced effective and/or superior performance in a job or situation.” To elaborate, “underlying characteristics” means that “the competency is a fairly deep and enduring part of a person’s personality… that causes or predicts behaviour and performance” and “criterion-referenced” means “the competency actually predicts who does something well or poorly, as measured on a specific criterion or standard”. So depending on the type of CTO you require most of the following core competencies are likely to be ingrained into the DNA of the tech leader you are targeting:

  1. Team Leadership [Competency] – The CTO must be a thought leader, a people leader, a technology leader, a business developer, and an operations leader. The CTO must also have strong business acumen backed with compassion and empathy. A CTO with exceptional leadership qualities helps them be a talent magnet – whilst also retaining key employees. This retention piece is equally essential as talented tech professionals are a key resource and are in unprecedented short supply at the moment.
  2. Long term performance (Strategic Orientation [Competency]) – CTO’s in addition to their technical expertise have a key and decisive role to play as strategic leaders. These strategic decisions help companies build their competitive moat and affects long term performance. A wrong or even mediocre CTO hiring means high opportunity cost. In the fast pace high tech world this could mean a huge setback for the company.
  3. Profitability / ROI ratio (Results Orientation [Competency]) – The ROI by hiring a CTO from the top 20% outweighs the cost incurred by a huge margin. Even if the hiring company uses a third party advisory company to find a candidate who generates only 1% more profits than an alternative candidate does, it will have paid for itself many times over as this role is a force multiplier in any tech company.
  4. Collaboration & Influencing [Competency] – A CTO must have skills to motivate and collaborate with people of all levels. They should be able to build and maintain relationships with the CEO/Founder, ‘C’ suite, board, investors, and key stakeholders at all levels of the organisation.
  5. Customer Impact [Competency] – The CTO has a clear understanding of the current and evolving customer needs and issues. A seamless customer experience across touchpoints is essential. In industries where the competitive intensity is high, the CTO creates a customer centric work culture. Numerous management consulting and academic sources have cited scientific studies suggesting that hiring from top 20% helps companies achieve significantly higher customer satisfaction net promoter scores than their competitors.
How to make targeting the top candidates work for you?

There are some key things you need to consider when trying to attract the top CTO’s to your current recruitment process:

  • Your target strategy is important – Some of the key questions are: Which of the 4 types of CTO are we targeting? Which sectors do we need to target? Which pool of companies and candidates should we tap into? What are some lateral sector and/or company and/or candidate types we may not have considered?
  • Your data sources are important -The overwhelming volume of candidate data being produced is growing exponentially every day faster than ever. At the moment only 5% of all data is ever used. The next step is ensuring that are accessing the right data sources are critical to help you separate the signal from the noise.
  • Increasing the sample size of potential candidates for your roles – Once the right data sources are locked in you then need to make sure that you build your datasets of potential CTO targets to represent the full universe of potential on-market (active) and off-market (passive) candidates. If you only have 30 to 50% of the total talent pool mapped then how do you even know if you are tapping into the top performers?
  • The right messaging channels is your superior access vehicle – Insights into the full universe of potential candidates is not enough.  Then right messaging channels are critical and provide a superior access vehicle much like a trojan horse, so it is probably best not to rely on a single LinkedIn ‘Recruiter’ InMail which is likely to get very low single digit response rates at this level. In 2021 – and beyond – optimal engagement occurs through the right messaging across a mix of Platform/Email/Mobile and of equal importance for response rates the sequencing and timing of these. As a marker if you are doing this right you should be getting a target candidate response rate of 70%+.
  • Assess leadership competencies in a standardised structured way – A competency is the executive’s knowledge, skill and ability to perform the task successfully in a defined environment. It helps in predicting the performance of the candidate in the CTO role. The strategic intent will vary from company to company. This should reflect in the competencies. The CTO role is continually evolving one. The required competencies might change in a short period of time. That is why it’s imperative for a company to assess the CTO through structured interviews and reference checks on behaviour traits and competencies such as change leadership.
How do I get started?

There are three options:

  1. Do it yourself – you will need to consider the following: Who is in your network? Find potential candidates. Understand the supply and demand dynamic and learn where the available candidates are. Follow up leads, referrals and tidy up your Job Description.
  2. Use a traditional executive search firm – save your own time trading this for a pretty big commission or fee. When looking for a search firm make sure you consider the following: Use an search firm with a large network who can leverage their relationships to find you the best candidates first.
  3. Use scaleXT – since our launch 5 years ago we have now built the largest dataset map of operating CTO’s in New Zealand and Australia (and expats globally) to serve company founders, CEOs, boards, investors and technology leaders by placing world-class operational leaders in technology leadership roles via innovative and compelling arrangements such as permanent, interim, and tech advisory leadership initiatives. We can deploy a shortlist of seasoned technology leaders within days, rather than weeks or months. If needed we can also provide interim CTO cover at very short notice.
Next steps …

Now you have a clearer understanding of the CTO landscape across New Zealand and Australian and afar … and have reflected back on the target you want your arrow to hit, including the role they’ll play in shaping your future. You’re now in a position to develop a plan, either by yourself or with an executive search professional or scaleXT.

We’d like your NEXT STEP to be with scaleXT so you would like to set up a deep dive 60 minute strategy session so you can explore how they can help you get what you want, quickly and effectively please let us know.


How does scaleXT work? Launched with precision hiring intelligence™ at the core powered by humans at the helm our AIR Platform™ enables founders, CEOs, boards, investors and technology leaders to build world-class teams.

Why should I care? Now you can tap into best-in-class technology to do a lot of the heavy lifting sourcing work so you can focus on more higher ROI activities like candidate experience, screening and on-boarding. Recruitment is on the cusp of becoming hi-tech industry in a similar way to what we have seen in other areas like sales and marketing automation with the new Salesforce.com AI product Einstein. Early adopters will gain an unfair advantage over their competition – plus you will most likely be able to leave the office at 5:00pm most days and have a better work life balance!

How fast is scaleXT? Typically you will get a high-quality Candidate Data MAP™ within 24 Hours and a shortlist Interested CV’s to your INBOX™ or ATS within days, rather than weeks or months.

What type of roles work best? The roles that make the biggest impact for company founders, CEOs, boards, investors and technology leaders are: Chief Information Officer, Chief Technology Officer, Chief Data Officer, Chief Artificial Intelligence Officer, Chief Transformation Officer, Chief Digital Officer, Chief Operating Officer, Chief Commercial Officer, Chief Revenue Officer and then building out the organisation chart across data leadership, architects, developers, data engineering, data science, data analytics, AI, Machine Learning, NLP hires – amongst others.

Is scaleXT able to help us unlock the potential of Generative AI (GenAI)? For those companies looking to unlock the potential of GenAI scaleXT is able to help you assemble a team of world class strategists, data scientists, ML engineers, and generative AI experts to help you rapidly evaluate and bring high ROI generative use cases to life. Or we can connect you with GPT strategists, researchers and ML product managers who can help you identify other companies to partner with to get the desired results faster.

How do you get Interested CV’s to your INBOX™ or ATS within days, rather than weeks or months? We use a proprietary algorithm called Enigma that processes Natural Language using Deep Learning Neural Networks – which has processed millions of candidate profiles in millions of real world job scenarios – that it is able to replicate the way that the human brain works to improve decision making at a scale previously not possible. Once the matching engine identifies precise matches our platform has personalised interactions with the right candidate through the right channel at the right time. From here our dedicated team of humans at the helm at scaleXT take it from there to increase the precision matching even further still!

What channels does scaleXT use to interact with candidates? scaleXT interacts with candidates through 3 channels (i.e. Platform/Email/Mobile) and will use the channel(s) in which candidates are most likely to be engaged on – as well as using data science to allow right sequence of interactions and right follow-up prompts occur at the right time.

Are humans involved? Yes this is critical. We have a high touch Customer Success Manager overseeing each recruitment process so there is a blend of best-in-class technology and machine learning at the core with humans at the helm. This allows us to automate a huge amount of the heavy lifting part of the sourcing recruitment process so that you can put more human touch into the areas that really matter!

Is there a guarantee for your Candidate Data MAP™ and Interested CV’s to your INBOX™? Yes. If you are not fully satisfied there is a full 100% money back guarantee.

If I join scaleXT, what kind of time commitment am I looking at? We recommend that you only come to scaleXT for urgent critical hires that need to be done at high speed. You will still need to time box appropriate slots of time to move the candidates quickly through the recruitment process.

How do I join the scaleXT Launch programme? Typically joining is by invitation only or through a referral from one of our members. Our next intake for our Launch programme will be in June 2023. Once you have applied to be accepted on the Launch programme and are accepted you will be able to activate job requirements immediately.

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