The Rise of the Chief Product and Tech Officer

5 min

I’m speaking with more candidates and clients from product management backgrounds, who enjoy the responsibility of both Product and Technology. To me, the CPO was always responsible for the what and the why of a product and the CTO looked after the how. However, the needs of many tech businesses are showing how successful the movement to such a model can be.


The Traditional Division

Most businesses will separate the functions. The CPO knows what needs to be built, the CTO is the leader that knows how to build it.


In many cases, businesses will evolve to be tech-driven or product-driven. This is where the friction arises. The CTO and CPO need to be in sync like never before to avoid information silos and to reduce tension around non-functional priorities like maintenance and automation.

Compounded with the increase of hybrid working, it opens the door for a single leader for both functions. The CPTO must understand customers and the market as well as drive products from 0-1, and have responsibility for software development, delivery, design, and prototyping.



What are the advantages?

It creates a single source of truth and one line of command for the overall vision


It allows for less friction when technical decisions need to be made, especially when a CEO may not always be best placed to make core, complex choices.

It can create a wider team to be greater than the sum of its parts.

For larger businesses going through a transformation, the CPTO can be the leader to steer the cruise ship in the right direction.

Some other benefits include…

  • Having a single CPTO allows for a business to scale more effectively with a smaller agile C-Suite.
  • Single source of truth and one line of command for the overall vision.
  • Resource allocation decisions are centralised.
  • Consistent communications and reporting.
  • One unified tech and product culture.



The CPTO Talent Pool

A strong candidate will have to be product orientated, commercially savvy with a strong grasp of technical issues


From smaller marketplace start-ups chasing growth to larger listed organisations going through a bar-raising digital transformation, I’m seeing more and more CPTOs leading successful functions. These individuals are not easy to find though. A strong candidate will have to be product-orientated, and commercially savvy with a strong grasp of technical issues which can take many years of development.

Whilst I expect the number of businesses I see with CPTOs will increase, it raises the question of how individuals can get relevant experience across all responsibilities. There is no obvious career path like there is from product manager to CPO and software engineer to CTO.

Perhaps the emergence of this leadership role will create a brand new career path for individuals who want responsibility for both traditional functions earlier in their careers. Maybe a Product and Tech Manager? What do you think?


If you would like to discuss how a CPTO position might be the right next move for you, feel free to get in touch with me at msmyth@understandingrecruitment.com

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