Now, you may have the Gandalf of CTOs making magic happen left and right. Your CTO might have more experience in tech than a 120-year-old Galapagos turtle has experience in patience. However, once you reach five+ developers (sometimes even three) your CTO may start to lose their magic somewhat. Day-to-day tasks can zap their focus and strengths. So, when the volume of developers and tasks begin increasing, consider it might be time for VP of Engineering.
While your CTO is laying the technological foundation and plan for your start-up, your VP of Engineering is going to see that plan through. And while your CTO is making tough platform decisions and developing the company's infrastructure, your VP of Engineering is poking your staff with a metaphorical staff. He's shepherding them into shape, while also looking for new sheep to add to the flock.
VPs of Engineering are people's persons. People's people. Whatever the correct form of that saying is - know that they're good at making teams get sh*t done.
We're sure your CTO has very similar characteristics. However, it's more important for them to spend time utilizing their technological expertise than Don Drapering in front of customers.
So, let your CTO do their thing without concerning themselves with micromanaging. Your CTO is setting standards, establishing thought leadership, and diving into technological explorations that can take up (rather, should take up) the majority of their time. Their decisions now will affect the success of your company in the future. Sometimes, these decisions can have black and white results - either making your company or breaking it.
Your VP of Engineering should be one who knows how to deliver the max business value out of an engineering budget. Granted, it takes time to find an ideal VPE, one with a perfect balance of tech-pertise and leadership skills. And you'd hate to have your business suffer because you felt the need to hire too quickly without proper vetting practices. And you know – we get it. You have to ship product by a certain amount of time. Maybe it's three months from now. However, it could take three months to find an ideal VP of Engineering, and many months more if you need to throw additional developers in the mix.
This is where a part-time VPE could help, Mary-Poppins-like with an umbrella and a carpet bag full of tricks. And by tricks, we mean pre-built team. No bag included. No umbrella, either, for that matter.
So, find yourself a temporary Rent-A-VP while you search for a more permanent solution. Your CTO will thank you, your company will thank you, and your board will not fire you, ahem, er thank you. Whatever your decision – give your CTO the opportunity to fully focus on what he/she loves without having to balance other areas.
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