day in the life of a cto blog feature

Coffee, Code, and Crisis Management: A Day in the Life of a Chief Technology Officer (CTO)

Chief Technology Officers (CTOs) or Chief Technologists are like folding bridges. 🌉

They help you close the gap between technology and business strategy. Commanding both technical prowess and strategic acumen, CTOs are in high demand in any modern-day company that wants to leverage its tech team to the max or be crisis-ready 24/7.

But what kind of vehicles do these so-called bridges encounter every day? And how do they know when it’s time to fold or march ahead?

Well, if you’re curious about exploring this role—we have the answers. Stay with us as we peek into a ​​day in the life of a Chief Technology Officer (CTO). We’ll also learn about:

  • Roles and responsibilities of a CTO
  • Expected skill set
  • Strategies to groom yourself for the position
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Who Are Chief Technology Officers?

CTOs are a blend of executive wisdom and technological expertise. They possess the unique ability to evaluate technical decisions through the lens of business growth and broader strategic objectives within a company’s C-suite.

This critical perspective often grants the CTO significant influence within the organization’s senior management. Particularly in tech startups, CTOs can assume a role equivalent to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO). A startup CTO may also manage tech compliance in the absence of a full-time legal officer.

From a practical perspective, a CTO takes actionable steps to align a project’s technical complexities with the commercial realities of the business. They develop effective policies and procedures for all digital strategies.

A proficient Chief Technology Officer possesses comprehensive tech and leadership skills—the table below outlines some prominent qualities: 

Technical Skills Management Skills
Tech roadmapping Innovation and development 
Artificial intelligence (AI)Strategic planning 
Machine learning Budgeting 
Cloud computing DevOps
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An Overview of CTO’s Responsibilities in a Company

A CTO’s duties vary widely, depending on their involvement in product development, research and development (R&D), and overall business development. 📈

For starters, most CTOs are heavily invested in strategic planning. They research new tech and leverage both new and existing solutions to achieve business goals.

Some typical responsibilities that come with a CTO’s job include:

  • Overseeing the company’s tech solutions
  • Collaborating with senior executives on budgeting and problem-solving
  • Ensuring security infrastructure meets current ISO certifications
  • Managing the development and oversight of technology for clients
  • Monitoring internal technical issues 
  • Helping engineering teams collaborate with the product or marketing team
  • Monitoring competitors and market expectations

In terms of customer relations, the CTO is ultimately responsible for receiving and acting upon direct market feedback alongside the tech team. Customer feedback helps them prioritize problems that require immediate attention and approve improvements for products or prototypes.

Tip: CTOs may have to deal with pesky customers occasionally, especially in startups. That’s why proactive professionals like to follow user studies closely and understand their customers’ pain points in advance. One of the best ways to do so is to use the ClickUp User Studies Template. It helps group users according to type and age, the software aspect they’re using, and other insightful categories.

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What Does a Typical Day of a Good CTO Look Like?

The life of a CTO is a constant act of balancing the tightrope walk of innovation with the steady steps of operational efficiency. Here’s what their day looks like from morning to evening:


Before they get ready for their day, most CTOs fuel their brain with an elaborate breakfast. 🥞

  • Since it’s a high-stakes role, a CTO’s day begins with carefully evaluating any overnight disruptions. For example:
    • Did security walls crumble?
    • Have systems gone rogue?
    • Are teams facing unexpected roadblocks?
  • The CTO assesses the landscape and formulate strategies to address any immediate threats
  • Before heading into meetings, CTOs create a to-do list and organize all the work they need to complete by the end of the day. An easy way to go about this is to use the ClickUp Work To Do Template
  • Early-morning meetings are usually with members of the senior management, such as:
    • Co-founder
    • Product owner
    • Investor director
    • Product head
    • Sales director
  • Collaboration gets the spotlight in these morning meetings. Discussions revolve around new technology initiatives and innovation strategies. The CTO often has to collaborate with the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) or the product manager to design product roadmaps optimized for the latest tech input
  • By the end of the first part of the day, most CTOs have an agile meeting with their team to discuss old and new deliverables

As you can see, this is one packed morning! That’s why smart CTOs leverage professional project management software tools like ClickUp for tasks like day and meeting planning. 😏

ClickUp’s meetings feature Dashboard image
Take notes, track agenda, and set action items for your team using ClickUp’s meetings feature


A CTO’s middays are typically spent on lunch and planning activities.

  • The CTO gets together with their planning team to dissect emerging technologies like task automation software and AI tools and analyze trends
  • Before afternoon hits, CTOs review contracts and service-level agreements, ensuring tech investments are watertight and yield maximum value
  • During midday, CTOs take in updates for the day before in terms of what was planned or what new goals were set
  • If the company faces an emergency, the CTO outlines the talking points for the next board meeting 


Many CTOs shift their attention to tech-related project and program management work during afternoons. 

  • They assess deadlines, allocate engineering resources within budget constraints, and brainstorm strategic decisions for individual teams
  • This is an excellent time for infrastructure vulnerability assessments and brainstorming cybersecurity risk mitigation strategies
  • Anything that wasn’t discussed in the midday meetings is discussed in the afternoon. This is also the time for CTOs to catch up with employees and see if they need additional instructions or training 
  • Research is also a part of an average CTO’s afternoon. They may want to identify the type of technology competitors are using and make a move before falling back. The ClickUp Competitive Analysis Template can be of great help here


As the final curtain falls, CTOs review their day’s performance and see if any areas need adjustments.

  • CTOs can often meet up with CEOs in their support network over a cup of coffee. But more often than not, these meetings aren’t very productive—mostly because these two roles are assumed by very different personality types that can only converse for as long as the coffee lasts 😉
  • It may not always be the case, but hiring managers may request CTOs to conduct quick interviews for the tech team before they leave
  • Before the day ends, wise CTOs also take some time away from the screen and focus on self-care or other rejuvenating activities 
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Insights on the Varying Duties of a CTO

While we’ve analyzed the general day-to-day, the specific responsibilities of a CTO can vary significantly depending on the company’s current goals and objectives. From keeping tabs on all software protocols to devising strategies with the project manager, they handle multiple roles simultaneously. 🤹

Here are four roles a CTO may take on:

1. Infrastructure overseer

This CTO oversees various aspects of the company’s cloud infrastructure, data security measures, maintenance work, and network operations. They initiate an internal investigation from time to time to identify the organization’s data vulnerabilities—this is mandatory if the company suffers from security breaches.

Infrastructure cost management and expense optimization are also critical components of any CTO’s role. CTOs aim to minimize expenses by reviewing the services and tools the company currently uses and prospecting alternative solutions if necessary.

2. Tech leaders reviewing a company’s technology strategy

CTOs focus on creating a robust technology strategy. This includes shaping a long-term roadmap for the company’s technological infrastructure that aligns with overarching business goals. 

This aspect of the job mainly involves:

  • Developing strategic plans for research, tech development, adoption, and application
  • Conducting relevant technical tests 
  • Establishing technology standards and guidelines to ensure uniformity across systems
  • Nurturing collaboration between cross-functional departments

Tip: If you’re building a detailed IT roadmap, consider using the ClickUp IT Roadmap Template. It helps you develop a clear timeline for deliverables and leverage built-in collaboration tools to work with other departments.

3. Contributor to business strategy and knowledge documents

CTOs foster a culture of knowledge sharing by conducting monthly workshops, serving as forums for both front-end (FE) and back-end (BE) discussions.

These sessions emerge as a platform for exchanging imaginative ideas and staying up-to-date on digital trends and industries. 

CTOs may also work on writing knowledge documents, such as continuous improvement plans and AI governance frameworks.

4. Talent acquisition and performance evaluation leader

As talent acquisition and performance evaluation leaders in fast-growing companies, CTOs handle salary and performance evaluations for tech professionals across remote and on-site teams. 

Experienced CTOs offer help with:

  • Attracting and onboarding technology experts
  • Conducting team interviews
  • Providing mentorship to tech teams
  • Rectifying skills gaps through targeted training and development strategies 

Template to try: The ClickUp Training Matrix Template to assess the skill set and identify learning opportunities for tech teams.

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How to Become a CTO

Since this high-ranking executive role demands technical expertise and strong leadership skills, you’ll find some healthy entry barriers here. Most CTO roles require 15+ years of experience in the tech field and are typically open to professionals with leadership experience, such as IT directors or senior Java developers. You usually have to undergo a strict employment process, complete with tests and interviews.

A standard CTO job description outlines the following key attributes: 

  • A solid academic background in computer science, engineering, or a relevant field 
  • A passion for continuous learning and keeping up with the latest tech trends through certifications and professional development courses
  • The ability to lead and inspire tech teams with exceptional communication and interpersonal skills, ensuring effective collaboration with diverse stakeholders
  • An in-depth understanding of emerging concepts like artificial intelligence, cybersecurity risk management frameworks, and change leadership

Organizations may sometimes seek candidates with further academic distinction, prioritizing a master’s degree in computer science or technology management.

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6 Strategies to Help CTOs (and Future CTOs!) Bring Their A-Game Every Day 

If you aspire to be a chief technology officer, don’t get intimidated by the workload or massive experience requirements. Prepare a long-term plan in the early stages of your career and work toward it.

A great favor you can do for yourself is improve your multitasking and critical thinking skills—these are the core competencies that help CTOs earn better than fellow IT professionals.

To develop core competencies and ease your workload, start using comprehensive project management tools like ClickUp. The platform’s Project Management Suite supports documentation, automation, and many other features that CTOs can capitalize on! 

Try implementing these six hand-picked strategies using ClickUp to ensure you’re always one step ahead in your career! 🧑‍💻

1. Master the art of time management

How do you remain productive while navigating emails, calls, and meetings? By mastering scheduling and time management!

With the ClickUp Calendar view, you can ensure your to-do list remains well-organized and visually appealing. Schedule dedicated blocks for your core tasks, allocating time for agile and skip-level meetings, peer interactions, and leadership team engagements. The Calendar’s drag-and-drop feature helps you keep your day flexible and reschedule effortlessly.

Use ClickUp’s Time Management tools to effortlessly track time across various platforms and seamlessly integrate timesheets into project workflows.

Struggling with deadlines within team IT projects? Instead of holding daily employee meetings, leverage ClickUp Estimates to create time estimations for each task in your workflow. Set up trackable dates and times and get notified when tasks are overdue.

Consider applying pre-built IT templates to your workflows to save time on everyday tasks like incident reporting and bug tracking. 

The ClickUp Daily Planner Template is another invaluable resource for maintaining your daily internal and customer-facing tasks. This versatile template allows you to:

  • Categorize tasks into distinct sections such as Personal, Work, or Goals
  • Prioritize tasks based on their significance and urgency
  • Visualize production releases through graphs and charts

2. Organize team tasks proactively

We all know Uncle Ben’s famous words for Peter Parker: With great power comes great responsibility.

But any CTO would say: With bigger roles come bigger responsibilities.

Luckily, the ClickUp Software Team Suite is designed to help CTOs tackle all their work responsibilities from one platform, thanks to features for:

  • Sprint planning and tracking
  • Bugs and issue tracking
  • Creating release plan checklists
ClickUp Tasks Dashboard Image
Organize your project under ClickUp’s unique Hierarchy, then customize how you visualize your work with over 15 Views

Organize team workflows with ClickUp Tasks and add dependencies for interconnected actions. The platform’s visual interface helps you set up tasks for entire roadmaps in mere clicks.

You can also take the first step toward centralizing all documentation using ClickUp Docs. The feature enables you to create perfectly structured technical documentation such as user guides, white papers, product manuals, and infrastructure reports. Use rich text formatting to add tables, bullets, lists, and banners and share the documents with team members instantly.

Want to make production releases happen faster? Thanks to live collaboration, you can work on agreements and standard operating procedures with senior team members in real time. Plus, with ClickUp AI, also called ClickUp Brain, your team gets access to industry-specific prompts that enable them to generate documents quicker than ever!

You can also use the AI tool to brainstorm, generate customer emails, create product briefs, build technology roadmaps, and summarize lengthy texts. 🤩

ClickUp AI Product Requirements Document Example
Automate documentation writing with AI, monitor progress through charts and sprints, and resolve coding bugs quickly using ClickUp

Bonus: ClickUp integrates with Git tools, allowing teams to manage all development tasks from one platform.

3. Automate wherever possible

Automating repetitive tasks not only frees up valuable time for you and your team but also streamlines the overall workflow. The scope of automation extends beyond just quality assurance (QA) tasks in IT. Everyday admin activities can also significantly benefit from automation processes.

ClickUp Automations can be particularly helpful in effortlessly automating routine tasks. The feature offers 100+ Automations that can be customized to align with an event or date. This approach enables everyone to focus on core priorities without being bogged down by mundane tasks.

ClickUp Automation Dashboard Image
Set up custom automations in ClickUp for repetitive tasks

4. Create a weekly roster of priorities and monitor them

While mastering the art of multitasking is crucial, it’s essential to strike a balance between tasks that drive corporate strategy and those of a more tactical nature. 

To navigate this conflict, create a list of high-level priorities every week with ClickUp Priorities. Refine it daily for optimal alignment using four color-coded tags: 

  1. Low
  2. Normal 
  3. High
  4. Urgent 

Want to track project priorities from a single platform? Say no more! 

Automate project tracking with the help of agile ClickUp Dashboards. You can customize the KPIs, metrics, and statuses you want to track and set up Cards to monitor them in real time. That’s not all—you can even check your priorities, sprints, and due dates from your custom Dashboard.

ClickUp Dashboard
Get high-level overviews of your work with fully customizable Dashboards in ClickUp

5. Delegate tasks whenever possible

Effectively managing both tactical and strategic CTO responsibilities can be overwhelming. Avoid doing everything by yourself—it’s best to delegate tasks among team members. Just provide them with guidance and support when necessary, and watch how it makes your day easier.

This approach allows you, as a leader, to channel your efforts into more demanding strategic initiatives as your company grows.

ClickUp has a bunch of collaboration tools to support delegated tasks. Your teammates can use the Chat view to seek clarifications instantly. You can also mention teammates or assign action items through comments to communicate updates. 

6. Allocate time for self-reflection and upskilling

A CTO’s complex role demands strategic contemplation and constant upskilling. 

Whether you are a CTO or want to be one, allocate meeting- and work-free time on your calendar, allowing yourself the luxury of moving away from projects and reflecting on personal or professional development. The idea is to take time to:

  • Revisit your hard and soft skills
  • Gain expertise in new technologies
  • Explore certifications to build competency in trending topics (like the Internet of Things or Network Architecture)

CTOs can easily set realistic and trackable targets for themselves or team members using ClickUp Goals. These can be measurable work targets or personal upskilling goals.

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Start Your Day as a Chief Technology Officer with ClickUp

A CTO’s role is demanding yet rewarding. It’s about shaping the future and making tech and business work. If you’re drawn to the thrill of innovation and the challenge of strategic balance, then the life of a CTO awaits you. But be prepared—the stage lights are unforgiving, and the audience expects a masterpiece!

Let ClickUp be your CTO toolkit with its intuitive interface, management tools, and collaborative features to ensure you win with every challenge. 

Sign up for free and start conquering your professional and personal responsibilities! ❤️

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