Job Description: What Does a CTO do?

A Chief Technology Officer (CTO) is part of the executive-level management team and leads the definition of the company’s Information Technology strategy, as well as manages the programs which deploy and operate that technology. Responsibilities include budgeting, setting policy and oversight for all information assets, including communications, development, applications and infrastructure policies and procedures. The executive nature of the job requires that this individual also maintains ongoing alignment with the company’s overall strategic direction.

CTO Job Responsibilities & Duties

For a large enterprise, the CTO or his /her direct reports may be responsible for some or all of the following. As with any position, the responsibilities will vary depending on the company business model, products and size:

  • Direct and approve the design of all IT infrastructure, software and communications systems, including email and internal communications systems;
  • Establish governance of all IT activities, including review and approval of all IT policies, controls and incident response planning;
  • Maintain a current understanding technology trends and platforms, including social media and the IT threat landscape for the industry;
  • Use this knowledge to participate in evaluation of potential technology shifts or purchases;
  • Present and champion the company’s technology strategy to management, staff, customers, and other stakeholders;
  • Brief the executive team on status and risks, including taking the role of champion for the overall strategy and necessary budget;
  • Collect, size and prioritize requests from other departments and divisions across the company for IT support;
  • Manage the implementation of IT systems and their effectiveness in meeting business unit needs;
  • Provide top-level management for all IT employees, vendors and contractors;
  • Manage and set priorities across the Technology programs and operations within budget and completion targets;
  • Provide training and mentoring to all direct reports and other managers;
  • Ensure that quality assurance is optimized, within cost constraints;
  • Ensure that application deployment, change control and issue management processes are defined, communicated, executed and audited;
  • Oversee frequent risk management reviews and provide necessary support for prevention and mitigation actions;
  • Establish appropriate metrics, including web analytics, for all IT to assist in effectiveness evaluations and business value decisions;
  • Optimize all corporate IT operations, including sales support, financials, HR and customer service and support;
  • Ensure a complete security plan is in place which protects the availability, integrity and privacy of the IT infrastructure and the data stored and communicated;
  • Ensure that disaster recovery and business continuity plans are in place and tested;
  • Provide input to identity and access policies and review them periodically;
  • Review investigations after security breaches or incidents, including impact analysis and recommendations for avoiding similar vulnerabilities;
  • Ensure compliance with the changing laws and applicable regulations regulating security and data protection;
  • Translate that knowledge to identification of risks and actionable plans to protect the business;
  • Schedule periodic security audits;
  • Oversee identity and access management policies;
  • Make sure that cyber security policies and procedures are communicated to all personnel and that compliance is enforced; and
  • Communicate recommended improvements, best practices and risks to all parts of the business, outside IT.

Generally the CTO will take a management role to implement these responsibilities. For a smaller enterprise, the CTO may be involved in execution of some or all of these measures or provide oversight for vendors.