What is it like managing as a CTO and as a product manager? How is it similar? How is it different? Our guest for this episode knows and he’s here to tell us. Jaco Botha is a product manager today but has also been a CTO in the past.
On today’s CTO Studio, Jaco shares his experiences and wisdom from both roles and how he’s made the switch in his latest position. We also talk about some of the commonalities and differences found in CTOs in South Africa versus the United States, along with his work on products that implement the FIDO Alliance specifications. Join us on this edition of CTO Studio.
In this episode, you’ll hear:
- How are product managers like mini-CTOs?
- How can you manage through influence?
- What is FIDO and why are companies like Google and Amazon involved with it?
- How many passwords does the typical tech person need to manage?
- What is relay logic?
- And so much more!
Jaco hired me back in the mid-90s and I consider him to be my first boss. We stayed in touch over the years and then reconnected in person when I was in South Africa. I shared my vision for 7 CTOs and he knew it made sense for him to get involved. He introduced me to his long-time mentor and within a few minutes, we started 7 CTOs in South Africa. And now we have two flourishing forums in two different cities.
My first question was about CTOs in South Africa: how disconnected are they there versus in the US? Jaco has been speaking to some CTOs in the States and the same issues are popping up in both places. The typical CTO doesn’t have a business or leadership background, like many of the other C suite types so it can be lonely for them. The technical part comes easy, and the people part is more complicated.
Culturally are they inclined to share and help? Jaco thinks South Africans are very friendly in general, and he finds that engineers are generally very eager to help (and most CTOs come from an engineering background). In terms of whether South African CTOs are different from American CTOs, Jaco doesn’t think they are that different. I agree and think there is a universal language among developers of all levels.
A difference in South Africa versus the US is the title of CTO. It is not as well known or not as common in South Africa as it is in the United States. CTOs and CTO types are more likely to be called Technical Director or Director of Engineering or even Development Manager. Even some of the members of 7 CTOs in South Africa have the title of CIO, which is a bit less common in the US. They are still doing a CTO job but they are called CIOs.