Is the role of CTO broken?

Are the financial benefits of becoming a tech contractor upsetting the traditional career progression and creating a shortage at the top?
This challenging question has prompted numerous conversations within our Leaders in Tech communities.
When we ask this question of engineers  –  particularly those with more experience in smaller companies  – they imagine a sort of ‘super Tech Lead’: a very senior engineer who is going to lead the technical direction of an organisation.
So what exactly does a CTO do all day?
Answers to that question from current CTOs have included:

Working with commercial stakeholders (CEO, board, investors), to identify the commercial roadmap over ‘x’ months.
Working with product owners and business analysts to develop a realistic product roadmap that supports the commercial roadmap.
Identifying a tech roadmap aligned with product and commercial roadmaps.
Negotiating when you realise the commercial or product roadmaps are unrealistic because of technical constraints. Note: negotiate, not “tell others it can’t be done”. Negotiation skills are critical.
Figuring out how to structure teams, line reporting, process and cadence within the technical team.
Getting the balance between feature development, BAU and technical debt/bug quashing right for the commercial and product culture within the business.
Keeping up to date with changes in law that have impact on technical roadmaps.
Preparation and negotiation of budgets to be spent on tech staff – salary budgets often have to be treated differently to others.
Preparation and negotiation of budgets around technical operations such as hardware, service fees (data centre, cloud, etc.), software licensing, patent licensing where appropriate, etc.
Validating all of the above with senior management and board members, mostly using the language they are most fluent in: finance. You will spend a lot of time building spreadsheets and slide decks, and you’ll ideally need to do basic interpretation of a balance sheet to keep up.
Communicating the above with shareholders and future investors whilst giving yourself enough margin to not get fired if it doesn’t pan out.
Setting cultural tone for the technical team. All of the below contribute to that, but ultimately you are going to set the example. The kind of behaviour you choose to reward is what the team will eventually value.

Notice, there isn’t much engineering going on here. Depending on what’s going on within your company, it’s unlikely you’re going to be spending too much time working on product, and it’s worth expanding on that:
In very small companies, you are going to have to work on the product directly. In larger companies you won’t have time to work on the product directly.
Leaders in Tech | Berlin
Join us on Thursday 18th October for the next instalment of Leaders in Tech | Berlin, a community for CTOs, CIOs, VPs, Heads of IT and other senior technology leaders to get together and discuss current tech trends.

Jason Franklin-Stokes – interim CTO with 30 years of successfully creating, building and growing technology start-ups in Germany, France, UK and US – will be discussing why the CTO role is dead! (or at least dying out). Are businesses demanding faster time to markets and user centricity? Is this shifting a focus from Tech to Product. Why do companies need a CTO? Or even a head of IT? If the CPO is the role that everything rotates around then surely the CTO is dead?
If you are a senior level technology leader, this is an opportunity for you to meet with fellow technology leaders from established and/or innovative businesses. To share in best practises, discuss up and coming advances in technology/methodologies & generally connect with like minded individuals with similar interests/challenges.

16th in the Austin Business Journal’s Best Places to Work for 2018

16th place in the Austin Business Journal’s Best Places to Work for 2018
We did it! We placed 16th in Austin Business Journal’s Best Places to Work for 2018 and we’re super proud of our placing. Being recognized as one of the Best Places to Work in Austin means so much to us.
 
We are so proud of every team member for helping make this happen! When you work with great people around you, you can achieve extraordinary things.
 
It’s our third year being a finalist in this prestigious award and since last year’s nomination, we’ve become even better at listening to our people. We’re committed to creating exciting and rewarding career opportunities and building closer relationships with the communities we operate in.

Austin Fraser secures top 20 ranking in Sunday Times HSBC International Track 200

Austin Fraser secures top 20 ranking in Sunday Times HSBC International Track 200
Celebrations are set to take place across all Austin Fraser offices, following our second consecutive placement in the Sunday Times HSBC International Track 200. 2018 sees us come in at 20th in the ninth annual Sunday Times HSBC International Track 200 league table, which ranks Britain’s mid-market private companies with the fastest-growing international sales.
 
Growing our international presence
How have we achieved this? In the qualifying two year period, we’ve seen exponential international growth, with revenue rocketing up over 115%. Global locations have doubled in the past 18 months, too, opening offices in Berlin, Denver and Dallas. And we have more ambitious plans for Europe and the US in place.
 
Strategic leadership
As many of you will have seen in the media, earlier this year, we announced a significantly expanded leadership team, with the aim to propel Austin Fraser’s organisation’s global growth. At the same time, the business has been developing deeper relationships across our specialist sectors across Technology, Automation, Aviation and Life Sciences industries
 
Strengthening our culture
International growth comes with its own set of challenges. So we were delighted to see other regional players like the Bullit Group and Westcoast in the league table.
We’re a people-led business to our core and have nurtured a culture that supports, fosters and rewards success. As a recruitment partner, our teams are genuinely motivated by a core desire to ensure both our clients’ and candidates’ success. We couldn’t be prouder of every team member for making this happen and look forward to celebrating and thanking everyone in person.

Understanding Developer Typology

Understanding Developer Typology
Ahead of the June Leaders in Tech: Baden-Württemberg held on 21st June 2018 we speak with 1&1’s Matthias Wittum, Head of the Source Center and Christian Rehn, Software Developer in 1&1’s Customer Selfcare Solutions about their highly developed frameworks and models which are specially designed to examine developer typology. Their frameworks and models are proven to support developer teams, strengthen communication and optimise design decisions.
 
Matthias Wittum explains that whilst working with Christian Rehn, they identified how different developers can be when it comes to reaching a design decision and how this has an impact on the development teams. We know that developers are unique problem solvers who draw on different approaches, knowledge, cultures, experience and principles to produce software solutions. Developers naturally approach projects uniquely, and the outcome can play to a particular focus or strength. Of course within a development team this can lead to several solutions being found and so the challenge is often finding one team solution or design route.
 
There are enough personality tests out there, but no tests or frameworks based specifically on developers. We felt that some instruments were needed to enable better production efficiency and to help develop teams according to their orientation and typology, so we started filling the gap. That’s how the Design Types Model for instance, came to fruition. It sets out to define developers’ typology via a relatively straightforward base of questions for each developer to answer. The answers provides help classify their typology and then you can group them accordingly. Using this model makes it easier to gain an impression of whether the tasks, the way of working and the environment are a good fit.
 
Here are three Models which we have formulated to identify developer typology, aid better case arguments to reach design decisions more quickly and to help optimise development teams:

Design Types Model – sets out to identify why software design is individual and often leads to discussions with colleagues.
Design Cards – great interactive tool using a set of predefined cards used to aid technical discussions by using proven arguments.
Design Matrix – helps you to examine technical problems from all perspectives.

Read more about these interactive Models here.
 
Ever since the agile movement, technical decisions are increasingly discussed or reviewed within the team. Collective Code Ownership means that everyone is now jointly responsible for the software and as a result, it is important for developers to be able to argue precisely and comprehensively, to be able to put oneself into the motives of your colleagues. With our models, we want to support exactly this and strengthen communication in development teams.
 
Leaders in Tech
Thanks to those who joined us at our Leaders in Tech: Baden-Württemberg meetup held on 21st June 2018 when Matthias and Christian give a complete overview of the developer typology, as well as the Design Cards and the Design Matrix. As a start, to understand the concepts and the overall context.
 

3 Top Tips to Building a Successful Engineering Team

3 Top Tips to Building a Successful Engineering Team
 
We spoke with Florian Gamper, freelance CTO/CIO whose background is in Software Engineering from Enterprise Backend to Web and Mobile. Florian is a speaker at our Leaders in Tech: Berlin event and over the years he has built numerous startups, Engineering Teams and Ventures for Companies like Dr. Oetker, BCG Digital Ventures and Columba. Resulting in projects like Coup (Electric Scooter Sharing for Bosch), Mein-Dach (Community Platform for Brass Monier) or backen.de (Oetker Digital).
 
As a Leader in Tech, we asked Florian what his 3 Top Tips are for Building a Successful Engineering Team
 
TIP 1 – Recruiting and interviewing your dream team
It starts with finding the talent. No longer do you have to wait for them to find you, now there’s a much more bi-directional process where you apply to them directly. This helps both sides engage in a deeper partnership. Be prepared to give your ideal candidate(s) an interesting story behind your company and an explanation as to how together, the projects can help take them to the next level.
Don’t ruin their first impression of your company! Before any interview takes place make sure the right people are in the room, and that you’re set up with a proper internet connection and good video chat system for remote interviews (not kidding … falling out of interviews all the time ruins your first expression … so ditch skype).
Finding and recruiting the right people to build a successful Engineering Team takes a lot of time. Don’t rush the process and if you have the funds to use freelancers for the intermediate, do it, it helps a lot. Never hire in doubt or rush.
 
Now it’s time to build your team.
 
TIP 2 – Cultivating the perfect environment
To create the perfect environment for an engineering team to thrive, the culture, supported from the top down, has to be right. To excel, you need to create a supporting culture with a welcoming and open mindset, which each member of the team needs to be a part of. To achieve this there are three simple rules: you have to build a culture that doesn‘t blame, gives fame, has no shame (it’s ok to admit a mistake) for the team to thrive. Set guidelines within which they have the freedom to experiment and thrive.
Glitches can appear if you don’t have the right processes in place to support your successful engineering team. To help track and record workflow you need to have stable processes in place such as CI/CD, Wiki, Tasks.
Listening, can help you spot the early signs that you’ve got the culture right. People will not only talk to each other about work, but also about their lives and hobbies. Bonds form and they’ll do some stuff together after work, ensure these are never siloed in the engineering team.
 
Never fear to lose the wrong people.

 
TIP 3 – The Future for Engineering Teams
Engineering Teams have to prepare to be more and more involved in production processes. Continuous deployment is a key to fast and steady delivery. In the near future teams will get more diverse in skills and topics as ML and other Cloud Technologies are going to be part of wider projects.
 
 
Leaders in Tech: Berlin
Florian explores this topic deeper at the June instalment of our Leaders in Tech: Berlin meetup, where he shares advice on what he looks for in the ideal candidate and what good teams need in order to thrive.   

Austin Business Journal’s Best Places to Work for 2018

Austin Business Journal’s Best Places to Work for 2018
 
Hey y’all! We’re so excited to announce we’ve been recognized as a finalist for Austin Business Journal’s Best Place to Work for 2018!.
Our Finalist placing acknowledges that we go the extra mile for our teams.
 
Being recognized as one of the Best Places to Work in Austin is so exciting for us and is credit to our culture and belief that our people are at the heart of our business.
 
Our success is creating a truly inspirational environment for our teams to work in every day. Our offices are designed to encourage collaboration and innovation in the way our team’s approach their work, allowing our dynamic workforce the space they need to be brilliant.
 
We offer an exclusive incentives package to motivate and make sure our people love what they do. We never leave out the fun stuff, with our buzzing calendar of social events everyone can get involved! This is what creates a great place to work and progress, and together helps shape our Austin Fraser DNA.
 
It’s our third year being nominated for this prestigious award and since last year’s nomination, we’ve become even better at listening to our people. We’re committed to improving internal career pathways, building closer relationships in our communities and with our clients, we hope to smash our previous 6th place ranking and come out on top this year.
 
We’ll keep you posted on where we’re ranked when the finalists’ placements are revealed on June 22nd!

Next stop, Dallas: consolidating Austin Fraser’s US presence

Next stop, Dallas: consolidating Austin Fraser’s US presence
We’re delighted to announce our next new office opening in Dallas, Texas, scheduled for October 2018. This move will anchor Austin Fraser deeper in the US market, hot on the heels of our award-winning Austin, Texas office and Denver, at the start of the year.
We’d also like to congratulate Dallas team lead, Alina Brovko, who will relocate from Munich to build the new Dallas team and roll-out our growth plans.  Alina is a brilliant example of the career pathways available at Austin Fraser and our strong ethos of fostering talent from within.
 
How we evolve on the ground
As the fourth biggest technology market in the US, outside New York, LA and Chicago, and a concentration of established Austin Fraser clients located in the city, Dallas was the obvious choice for our third US office. With its flourishing start-up ecosystem of incubators, tech meet-ups and a strong Fortune 500 presence, it holds real potential for Austin Fraser. With our Austin team just three hours away too, it will allow for deeper collaboration, ensuring our networks and talent pools are harnessed for client success.
As with previous locations, it’s important to us that we are embedded in the local community. Our approach is about adapting and integrating, while staying true to our Austin Fraser DNA. We invest heavily in communities, creating longer-term relationships while developing an exceptional pool as well as new career opportunities internally.
 
International growth
This past 18 months has seen Austin Fraser double our global locations, with offices in Berlin, Denver and Dallas.  We scale our international teams with home-grown talent, while building a strong local talent pipeline.
As Alina explains “We’re seeing a lot of our clients with hubs across the US so for this market, it makes sense for us to support as many of those as we can, as we extend Austin Fraser’s presence.  Our business is about how we can help our clients grow. Being on hand, to build real connections and relationships really means that we can specialise as well as play an active part in the tech community here.”
Further expansion plans in the UK, Europe and the US are in place and we’ll look forward to sharing these later this year.

COMMUNITY MANAGER

Community Manager, Denver

About the role
 
As Community Manager you will be responsible for growing a community of specialists with common business interests so they can make connections, share knowledge and learn stuff. You will be integral to the client and candidate experience, recruitment performance and operational excellence of Austin Fraser.
Developing and nurturing local, connected communities for sharing, learning, attracting talent and finding jobs requires a mix of creativity and tenacity. We need someone who knows what it takes to build something from the ground up, who treats the job as his or her own business, and who thrives on learning daily.
This is an excellent opportunity for a self-starter. You will deliver end to end multimedia marketing activities to your given sector and be the expert of your community, understanding the intricacies of your audience and the market.
Key responsibilities
Marketing

Owning, planning and delivering the marketing strategy for your community in line with overall business strategy
In collaboration with the regional business unit and the global marketing team, commission, curate, publish and promote content assets such as but not limited to blog posts, interviews, white papers, news articles, videos and infographics.
Responsible for all project phases from research, planning, review, publishing, evaluation and distribution.
Create meaningful local strategic partnerships with organisations & individuals that will drive revenue and brand relevance to Austin Fraser
Identify opportunities to optimise content for higher performance and measure impact. Provide reporting and analysis on results and recommendations for improvement
Identify, create, plan and execute educational, professional and personal development content marketing initiatives based on community members’ needs and requests
Evaluate new trends and tools to support content marketing and provide recommendations on how the wider marketing team can leverage for increased analysis, efficiency and enhancement.

Community building

Your goal is to prospect, build, grow and manage a community. Work closely with the entire team to meet and exceed recruitment goals.
Acquire ongoing marketplace intelligence by researching trends and best practices, reading business publications, seeking out learning and development opportunities and utilising internal resources.
Connect with local organisations and attend networking events to promote Austin Fraser, the community, identify potential members, and engage other networks into our community
Grow the community by cultivating new relationships and regularly setting up calls and meetings to promote the community and Austin Fraser.
Identify and develop relationships with potential community members and proactively gather information on their needs to identify how Austin Fraser could help them achieve their goals
Identify and execute opportunities to connect with new and existing community members and other networks
Recommend best practices to the Senior Community Manager for the benefit of the broader company related to member experience, content initiatives and events
Support the Senior Community Manager in making strategic decisions regarding the operational and financial performance and process optimisation of the location

 
Experience & Requirements

Educational and/or professional background in Business, Marketing or other related fields
Ability to operate in an agile, fast-paced environment, where risk-taking and an entrepreneurial approach is encouraged
Experience working with high-performance teams to drive explosive growth
Excellent interpersonal and networking skills
Experience and a flair for presenting to prospective businesses and individuals
The determination to pursue potential leads and build strong business relationships
Strong oral and written communication skills with the ability to distil information and communicate using brief, simple language.
Strong organisational skills with the ability to multitask projects through from start to finish
High attention to detail.
A process-oriented approach to content marketing through phases including goal setting, research, planning, commissioning, quality assurance, publishing, evaluation, and optimisation.
Excellent sense of design to direct and approve designs from the design team that fit a high level of presentation standards.
Solid understanding of web metrics, digital analytics, with the ability to generate, analyse and interpret data.
Ability to manage and oversee multiple projects across multiple lines of business.

 
To apply, please get in contact with Natasha Teskey, [email protected], +44(0)1184676113