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:wave: Hey hey, I'm Michael Lee and this is my site about being a developer, being a dad and making side projects.
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CTO?!

Written on July 25, 2018

I’ve been serving Pathos Ethos, a full-service agency as their chief technology officer (CTO) for about a few weeks now. Leading up to the role I’ve had to figure out what a CTO was, learn to face fears and keep imposter at bay and learning a lot along the way so far.

CTO?

When I was first asked to become Pathos Ethos’ CTO, I honestly had no idea what a CTO does. I actually went on Google and searched for what CTOs do at a company.

Does a CTO program? Does a CTO manage folks? Does a CTO meet with clients? Does a CTO sit through a bunch of meetings? Does a CTO help with business strategy?

While the role of a CTO may vary from business to business, in the past few weeks I’ve learned in my context that the answer to these questions I had are all yes.

As a full-service agency, the majority of our business comes from clients — other businesses — that hires Pathos Ethos for talent to help elevate their business to the next level. As such the majority of my first week at Pathos Ethos has been meeting our current list of active clients. This has allowed me to get acquainted with the problems we’re solving for our clients, providing new perspectives on how to solve their problems and getting to know the awesome folks we get to work and serve as a business.

The other majority of my time in the past few weeks has been connecting with our developers. I feel so fortunate that I get to work with such talented developers. Through dialogue, I’ve been learning how they communicate, their optimal programming scenarios and how to serve them so that they can do their best work.

Being a CTO I’m learning that I’ve got to wear an assortment of hats but after a few weeks, I can honestly say I’m really enjoying it. In previous jobs, I would join for a very specific job, to fill a very specific description. What this resulted in was having to utilize only a subset of skills that I’ve acquired in my career. Which often would leave me unfulfilled at times.

CTO!

Leading up to serving Pathos Ethos as their chief technology officer, I can honestly say imposter syndrome was at its peak. Could I serve a business in a capacity where I could help guide it to success? I’m an introvert, how would I manage a team of developers, let alone have meetings with clients? I’ve been a full-stack JavaScript developer, but the business is currently a Rails shop, could I acquire the skills to help build and execute strategy in this foreign language? Can I speak to clients and provide solutions to their problems?

Stepping into the role for a week now, I feel like the sum of all the weird skills I had acquired up until now has come in handy. While I don’t think I will always feel fully adequate with my role as CTO, I do find comfort that with each day that has passed since joining, there is an inverse shift between fear and excitement. Fear is reducing, while excitement is increasing. Much credit, I believe also comes from the fact that I’m surrounded by some great people. All who are so talented with how they contribute to the business and super smart.

CTO

I have a lot to learn about this new role as chief technology officer. As I continue to grow into the role, I’m excited to utilize the skills I’ve gained up to this point. I’m also very excited to use this role to amplify things I’ve been passionate about such as mentoring developers, teaching folks how to code and helping folks find intersections of skills they have to solve problems.

The past few weeks has been a humbling experience for me. I’m learning a lot and able to utilize a broader range of my skills that goes beyond programming. I’m learning to be comfortable with not knowing all the answers, asking questions and relying on the experience and knowledge of others to answer the questions I do have.

I am grateful to Isaac, Sam, Macaela, Alex, Paul, Steve, Tara, Nicki and the rest of the Pathos Ethos team that I get to serve them and work alongside them as the CTO. I’m also grateful for the clients we’ve got who entrust us to journey with them as we elevate their business in reaching their goals.

With each passing day, I come home exhausted, but excited about the work ahead.

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