Tech CEOs aren’t necessarily born — they are made. For a person to be a competent and in-demand CEO of a technology company, they need to have a mix of hard skills, which are related to their specific industry, and soft skills, which are attributes that help a person succeed in almost any job. If you are interested in becoming the CEO of a tech startup or are a technology firm looking for your next CEO, know what skills and competencies to look for or develop is essential. When evaluating the resumes of CEO candidates, keep an eye out for the following skills.
Hard Skills a Tech CEO Must Have
Hard skills are teachable skills. A potential tech CEO will usually learn and develop hard skills in class at a university-level computer and technology program, a boot camp or other short-term workshops. In some cases, a tech CEO might gain hard skills by teaching themselves, using books or web-based programs. As a person moves up in their career, they are likely to gain some hard skills through on-the-job training. For example, a person who studied HTML/CSS in their college program might learn Java or Ruby after getting hired for their first tech job.
The hard skills a tech CEO needs to have can evolve over time, as technology changes. Some of the most in-demand hard tech skills between 2015 and 2018 were machine learning, DevOps, data science and artificial intelligence. Take a look at some valuable hard skills of a technology CEO:
- Data science: Data science lets individuals glean valuable information from large sets of data. Developing CEO-level data science skills requires a person to have an understanding of the scientific method, algorithms and systems to solve complex problems. Often, data science skills combine math, computer science and business skills. A CEO for a data science company should at the very least have an advanced level degree in the field.
- Artificial intelligence: Artificial intelligence (AI) allows machines to perform tasks that previously needed to be completed by humans. AI skills involve training machines to learn to recognize patterns and to learn to process vast amounts of data. AI skills include an understanding of data science as well as how to use various programs such as Python.
- Machine learning: Machine learning is sometimes used interchangeably with AI, but the two skill sets are different. Machine learning is a branch of AI, not the sum total of it. Machine learning involves the analysis of data to automate model building. Some examples of machine learning include developing self-driving cars, fraud detection systems and “what to watch next” recommendations from streaming services.
- Internet of Things: The Internet of Things (IoT) is all of those non-traditional-computer devices that are connected to the internet. Smart refrigerators, smart TVs and smart lightbulbs are all examples of the IoT. IoT skills combine knowledge of design programs, such as AutoCAD, web development programs, such as Node.js, and big data to create objects that safely and efficiently get online.
- Web design: Ideally, tech CEOs will have basic web design skills, such as the ability to understand the user experience and the ability to create websites that work on screens of all sizes. Additionally, a tech CEO will understand the importance of responsive design and the basic elements of good design.
- Computer programming: Computer programming skills include knowledge of various computer languages, the ability to write code using those languages and the ability to troubleshoot issues with a program.
Soft Skills a Tech CEO Must Have
Another way to describe soft skills is as interpersonal or “people” skills. They are qualities a tech CEO should have, but not necessarily skills that a CEO will learn in a classroom, university program or from reading a book. Some people are born with or develop excellent soft skills as they grow up while others might need to spend some time in adulthood focusing on developing their interpersonal skills. While you can easily test for hard skills, soft skills are often more challenging to quantify or define.
Some examples of essential soft skills for a tech CEO include:
- Problem-solving: Technology is all about solving problems, so it should be little surprise that a C-level executive of a technology company should have sharp problem-solving skills. A CEO needs to be able to spot issues within their company and develop ways to correct those issues.
- Communication: Communication skills are also essential for a tech CEO. Communication skills include listening, writing and speaking skills. A CEO should be able to listen to the concerns of employees, customers and others associated with the company. If they need to share information about the business, they should be able to do so clearly and efficiently, either through a written message or a speech.
- Time management: CEOs have full schedules and many responsibilities. They need to be able to balance their time, plan out their days and make sure they are being as productive as possible. Excellent time management skills are a must for a CEO to have. That can mean finding the best ways to get things done or arranging their schedule so that they focus on certain tasks during the time of day when they are the most productive and alert. It can also mean finding ways to delegate certain tasks to other people.
- Leadership: A successful tech CEO is able to lead a company effectively. Leadership skills involve being able to develop a vision for the company and then communicating that vision to others. Also important is the ability to get people on board with the vision and to guide employees as they work on their projects and complete their required tasks.
- Decision-making: A tech CEO needs to make decisions about the business and needs to decide confidently and quickly. A tech CEO’s day is often full of decisions, some small and some large. They need to be able to pick a direction to go in and to feel confident that they have made the best choice.
- Flexibility: Technology is always evolving. A tech CEO needs to be flexible enough to adapt to the changes. Additionally, a tech CEO needs to have the flexibility to change course when needed if a project isn’t working out the way they expected.
Find the Right Tech CEO With Reaction Search International
You want to hire the right executive to lead your company into the future. Reaction Search International focuses on recruiting the best of the best in the technology industry. We use a 25-step proven process to evaluate candidates. To learn more about our process and how we can help you find the right tech CEO for your company, contact us today.