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Hot MBA Jobs: Chief Technology Officer

Chief Technology Officer

When thinking about executive-level positions within companies the first titles that always come to mind are CEO, CF, and CIO, but for technology companies, there’s another vital position—CTO (Chief Technology Officer). The CTO is focused solely on scientific and technological issues within an organization as well as research and development (R&D). It’s a role that is in high demand and difficult to obtain, which is why an MBA can give you that leg up you need.

The truth is that MBAs and the tech industry are starting to go hand-in-hand more than ever before. In 2015, 37.8 percent of UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business graduates joined the technology industry. And at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, 30.6 percent of their MBAs entered the high technology industry (computers/electronics, software/internet, and telecommunications).

So, what exactly does it take to be a chief technology officer and what do they do?

Chief Technology Officer Job Description

Chief technology officer’s are part of the executive team and are responsible for leading the technology development within the company. Usually, the CTO is the highest position related to technology, although occasionally they report to the chief information officer. However, in most cases, the CTO has a strategic-planning role in regards to technology while the CIO has a technology-focused role.

According to the Society of Human Resource Management, a successful CTO should handle the following responsibilities and duties:

  • A CTO should establish an organization’s technical vision and lead every aspect of the company’s technological development.
  • They should also direct the company’s strategic direction alongside development and future growth.
  • The CTO also works as a consultant within the organization. They should consult with other department heads including the marketing, production and operation departments and act as a technology advisor to improve efficiency and effectiveness.
  • A CTO is also a leader over their own department and to other department heads, and so their role should support the company’s values, culture and mission.
  • Research is also vital to a CTO, and they should conduct case studies on cutting edge technologies. Their research should help them make new technological decisions and to decide on implementation.
  • Finally, a CTO should act as a knowledgeable and good steward of the company’s resources including the technology budget.

As for experience, chief technology officers should have at least a bachelor’s degree in a related field and around 15 years of expertise in the information technology arena. If you have an MBA, most companies require at least ten years of management and strategic experience.

Chief Technology Officer Salary

According to PayScale.com, chief technology officers earn a very comfortable salary, on average around $151,754. However, pay does vary by experience. Those on the lowest end of the spectrum can expect to earn around $87,000 while those on the highest end can expect $258,000. As for bonuses, they’re not as common for CTOs but can vary widely from $2,000 to $59,000.

Working as a Chief Technology Officer

So, what does a day in the life of a CTO look like? For Alok Bhanot, the EVP and Chief Technology Officer at Verifone, it’s a busy but rewarding life. He has more than 20 years of experience driving new ideas for global technology organizations, and he recently walked PYMNTS through his day-to-day role as a CTO.

“As Chief Technology Officer, I’m responsible for global technology and operations, the largest organization within Verifone consisting of more than 40 percent of the company’s global workforce,” Alok said. “In this role, I oversee — among other things—everything from terminal hardware management to service delivery, from software development to supply chain management, as well as managing the final phase of application development and solutions delivery. My teams around the world are responsible for the technology platform that services retailers and financial institutions across 150 countries around the world. The majority of my time is spent directing Verifone’s enormous amount of energy and global talent toward conceptualizing, designing and delivering innovative products to market quickly, while also ensuring their quality, reliability and security, as well as operating a global supply chain across six continents that fulfills our customers’ needs efficiently and predictably. As a result, each day is considerably different from the next.”

As for the most difficult and challenging part of Alok’s role, it’s keeping up with the rapidly evolving tech industry. He finds it most challenging to absorb all of the ideas, information and industry trends that are necessary for his clients and partners around the world. Even more challenging is trying to take a step back from all the information and to envision what technology and strategy will best meet their needs in a scalable and extensible solution.

Do You Need an MBA?

As for an MBA, while not every CTO has an MBA it is one of the best ways to set yourself apart. According to Florida Tech, “IT professionals who seek to advance their careers to a chief technology officer position can improve their prospects by earning an MBA with a specialization in information technology management.”

MBAs have the leg up for a few reasons. Their coursework in managerial economics, management information systems and global information technology management better prepares them for the role. And, also, MBAs with a specialization in tech are better able to:

  • Engage in case study analysis to garner real-world insights and actionable items.
  • Apply their learned business skills to lead a department.
  • Evaluate technological problems and develop flexible solutions.
  • Assess organizational capabilities and competencies to find and fix weaknesses.

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About the Author

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Kelly Vo    

Kelly Vo is a writer who specializes in covering MBA programs, digital marketing, and personal development.

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