How does one become a successful Chief Technology Officer? It takes creative vision, innovative strategy, and thorough preparation. In this week’s show, Tony G. Werner, President of Technology and Product at Comcast, joins me to share CTO advice. Tony tells us what helped him achieve success. For those working toward a similar role, Tony’s CTO advice for the innovator gives valuable insight.
From Second in Charge to CTO
Before becoming CTO at Comcast, Tony spent a good part of his career as the number two guy. At Rogers Communications, Inc., people counted on Tony to get the job done. From there, he moved on to TCI in the number two role. His innovative vision soon got him recognized. A phone call from John Malone surprised Tony. John had a problem that needed to be solved. With two weeks to mobilize, Tony brought the right people together and came up with a solution. John was impressed. About three weeks later, Tony was promoted to Chief Technology Officer. Success to Tony is when opportunity meets preparation.
Steps a CTO Needs to Take
What are some of the first steps a new CTO should take? Focus on your vision, belief, and financing.
For Tony, the most important thing is to bring people with you. The people on your team need to be fully on board and passionate about your vision. Steve Job’s team is a great example. His team brought the innovative ideas. Steve made those ideas into bigger things. As a CTO, you need a credible plan to sell to your team, to your peers, to the CEO, and the Board. Then you need to execute.
CTO Lessons Learned
Looking back on his career, Tony shares some lessons learned. Do you have your sights on a CTO role? Here are a few words of CTO advice for the innovator:
- Be willing to take a step backwards to go forward.
- There have been times in his career that Tony has taken a step backward to gain experience. The value of experience outweighed the financial down step.
- Set high expectations for yourself and your team.
- Tony feels at times he could have set higher expectations and would have achieved more.
CTO Challenges and Success
From my experience as CTO at Hewlett Packard, a CTO has a divided focus. The challenge is to find a balance between thinking of present goals and thinking years ahead. Senior leadership support is crucial.
Another bit of advice for the innovator is to vary your experience. What helped me find success was my wide range of experience. For long-term career success, having a variety of experiences can make the difference. You have to step out of your comfort zone. Be willing to try different roles. Be a part of teams that you would not normally be comfortable in. Having different experiences gave me the confidence I needed to be bold in innovation.
To hear the interview with Comcast President of Technology and Product Tony G. Werner at #CES2019, listen to this week's show: CTO Advice for the Innovator.