Interim CTO - Chief Technology Officer | Association of Interim Executives

CTO Rises to New Heights (Bill Gates Included), but Interim CTO Offers Fresh Twist

The information technology revolution gave rise to the chief technology officer, and the interim specialty has made the CTO one of its own.

Under fixed-term assignments, an interim CTO enters a company to invigorate a company’s technology and to collaborate with other C-level executives to use technological innovations to help steer a company toward its strategic aims.

The appropriate roles for CTOs and CIOs to play are currently under intense debate, and larger corporations frequently choose to have both. In the technology space, the role is of course essential, and the title has been held by none other than Bill Gates. In 2009, President Barack Obama appointed the U.S. government’s first CTO, Aneesh Chopra.

In a blog post, Cisco’s CTO Padmasree Warrior spells out the two-pronged approach essential to strategic success:

“There is a long-standing debate about what drives long term success: Is it innovation or operational excellence? Traditionally we viewed this as an either-or proposition, and most companies have taken pride in being really good at one or the other. What we hear from most CEOs, CTOs and CIOs is that we need to do both….We no longer have the luxury of choosing one vs. the other.”

The interim CTO is an offspring of the tech expert and the interim executive, able to power up on behalf of a range of different companies to integrate promising technologies into overall corporate strategy.

A few scenarios where an interim CTO is invited in: to help a start-up with technology leadership (and instant credibility with potential investors); helping a middle market company transition into a rapid growth cycle; stepping into a multinational to replace a departing CTO, shore up technology efforts, and help groom a permanent successor.

Of course, companies whose products and services are entirely technology based simply can’t succeed without a strong leader in the role, and the services of an interim CTO guarantee that that doesn’t need to be a concern.

Whether start-up or multinational, a company in search of technological expertise and innovative firepower can find their answer by engaging an interim CTO.