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The CTO Podcast

Author: Insights & Strategies for Chief Technology Officers Navigating the C-Suite while Balancing Technical Strategy, Team Management, & Innovation

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The CTO Podcast, hosted by Etienne de Bruin, explores challenges of Chief Technical Officers, offering insights on strategy, management, security, innovation, and more.
225 Episodes
Aliza Carpio (Director of Product Management Data Platform at JLL Technologies) discusses with Etienne open source communities, codes of conduct, and the relationship between product management and engineering. She emphasizes the importance of open source as a team sport and the benefits of collaboration and problem-solving in the open source community.Aliza also highlights the value of open source for businesses, including cost savings and access to tried and true solutions. She emphasizes the need for clear communication and inclusive documentation in open source projects, as well as the importance of psychological safety in remote work environments. In this conversation, Aliza and Etienne discuss the importance of communication and collaboration between product managers and engineers as well as emphasizing the need for product managers to understand the 'why' behind their products and for engineers to understand the customer problem.They also highlight the value of experimentation and failure in the product development process. The conversation concludes with a discussion on the potential impact of language models like ChatGPT on communication and trust.Time Stamps00:00 - Introduction and Overview00:40 - Aliza’s Background and Role in Product Management06:47 - The Value of Open Source for Businesses13:31 - Creating Safety and Inclusivity in Open Source Communities25:11 - The Importance of Reflection and Intentional Connection29:38 - Invitation to Join 7CTOs Growth Program31:20 - The Importance of Understanding the 'Why' in Product Management36:08 - The Role of Engineers in Understanding the Customer Problem39:46 - The Value of Experimentation and Failure in Product Development44:32 - Creating a Culture of Experimentation and Discovery51:53 - The Potential Impact of Language Models on Communication and Trust58:55 - Effective Communication and Collaboration in Product DevelopmentWe have 200+ CTOs in peer groups: Quick Testimonials VideoContact Etienne: Website / YouTube / LinkedIn / X / Instagram / The CTO Podcast WebsiteContact Aliza: Website /LinkedIn Get full access to The CTO Podcast at
In this conversation, Etienne interviews Maria Flynn, the Founder and CEO of AmbioLogix, about her new book Make Opportunity Happen. They discuss the importance of carving your own path as an entrepreneur, the challenges faced by early-stage entrepreneurs, and the methods and templates outlined in the book to help entrepreneurs navigate their journey. They also touch on topics such as team dynamics, perseverance, and the role of mindset in entrepreneurship. Maria, the author of Make Opportunity Happen: How to Build a Culture of Innovation in Your Organization, discusses her experience as the CEO of Orbis Biosciences and shares insights on leadership and building successful teams. She emphasizes the importance of staying the course and not getting caught up in frenzy pivots. Maria also highlights the significance of having a clear vision and setting goals to drive progress. She discusses the role of the CEO and CTO in a tech company and the importance of mutual respect and communication between the two. Maria provides valuable advice for founders and shares her thoughts on accountability and appreciation in a team.Time Stamps00:00 - Introduction and Background03:06 - Carving Your Own Path as an Entrepreneur09:40 - Methods and Templates for Success13:59 - The Importance of Team Dynamics, Perseverance, and Mindset37:31 - The Role of the CEO and CTO38:25 - Knowing Where You Want to Go46:29 - The People and Business Aspect of the CTO Role47:56 - The Importance of Different Skill Sets and Personalities53:47 - Accountability and Appreciation in Building a Strong TeamWe have 200+ CTOs in peer groups: Quick Testimonials VideoContact Etienne: Website / YouTube / LinkedIn / X / Instagram / The CTO Podcast WebsiteContact Maria: Website /LinkedInMaria's Book: Make Opportunity Happen: How to Build a Culture of Innovation in Your Organization Get full access to The CTO Podcast at
In this conversation, Etienne and Dave reminisce about their early experiences with computers and programming. They discuss the different computer models they had, the challenges of typing in code from magazines, and the evolution of technology. They then shift the conversation to their roles as VP of Engineering and CTO, and the differences between the two positions. They talk about the importance of product management and design in software development, and the value of delivering in small batches. They also discuss the concept of lean software development and the economic mindset behind it. The conversation explores the conundrum of developers being resistant to working on new features and instead over-engineering existing ones. The fear of the unknown and the comfort of familiarity play a role in this resistance. The conversation also delves into the importance of prototyping and experimentation in the development process. The concept of failure and its relationship to learning and psychological safety is discussed. The impact of different communication mediums, such as texting and video calls, on team culture and effectiveness is explored. The conversation concludes with a discussion on measuring team productivity and effectiveness through inputs, outputs, outcomes, and impact.Time Stamps00:00 - Reminiscing about Early Computers and Programming13:16 - The Differences Between VP of Engineering and CTO24:23 - Delivering in Small Batches for Faster Feedback26:47 - Embracing the Economic Mindset in Lean Software Development 35:50 - Developers' Resistance to New Features38:10 - Prototyping and Experimentation44:33 - Failure and Learning51:20 - Impact of Communication Mediums01:04:53 - Measuring Team Productivity and EffectivenessThe CTO Podcast is honored to be featured among Feedspot's top 45 C-suite podcasts.We have 200+ CTOs in peer groups: Quick Testimonials VideoContact Etienne: Website / YouTube / LinkedIn / X / Instagram / The CTO Podcast WebsiteContact Dave: LinkedIn / Website Get full access to The CTO Podcast at
Ksenia Palke, Director of AI at Airspace, discusses the use of AI in time-critical shipments. Airspace builds tech for fast automated solutions in shipping critical items such as organs, medical devices, and industrial parts. The goal is to remove unnecessary manual steps and optimize the delivery process. Ksenia explains how AI is used to predict delivery times, optimize routes, and automate interactions with drivers and customers. She also discusses the use of large language models (LLMs) in their AI initiatives and the importance of prompt engineering and ragging. Ksenia emphasizes the need for context-specific training and the ongoing comparison of different LLMs. In this conversation, Etienne and Ksenia discuss the implementation of language models (LLMs) in business and the importance of being specific and intentional in their use. They emphasize the need for a clear strategy and goals when using LLMs, rather than chasing the latest and greatest technology. They also highlight the importance of having a human in the loop to validate and manage LLM outputs. The conversation explores the limitations of LLMs and the potential for future advancements. Overall, the conversation provides practical advice for founders and CTOs on how to approach AI projects and make the most of LLMs.Time Stamps00:00 Introduction and Overview02:12 Automation and Optimization in Time-Critical Shipments09:22 Using LLMs to Automate Interactions14:05 The Importance of Prompt Engineering and Ragging in LLM Training24:14 Bottlenecks and Challenges in LLM Development29:29 Being Specific and Intentional with LLMs35:04 The Importance of Performance over Novelty39:18 The Role of Human Validation44:29 Avoiding the Hype and Focusing on Practical Applications53:26 Understanding the Limitations of LLMs57:47 Embracing Advancements in LLM TechnologyWe have 200+ CTOs in peer groups: Quick Testimonials VideoContact Etienne: Website / YouTube / LinkedIn / X / Instagram / The CTO Podcast WebsiteContact Ksenia: LinkedIn / Website Get full access to The CTO Podcast at
Etienne sits down with Adam Bahret, whose unique journey has fueled his passion for creating robust product designs that can outperform the competition. The conversation reveals how prioritizing reliability can significantly impact a product's success and why reliability often trumps marketing.Tune is as Adam introduces his innovative R-Three blueprint which balances cost, features, and risk to ensure successful product launches without regrets. He also discusses the often overlooked issue of technical debt in software development, emphasizing the importance of early risk assessment.With his insights being drawn from his book Devastate the Competition: How to Take Market Share through Robust Design, he aims to connect product development with achieving business objectives, and he and Etienne engage in insightful dialogue about the challenges and solutions in reliability engineering. They discuss Adam's experiences living in Denmark and the cultural differences that shaped his approach to learning and working in engineering. Their conversation also touches on the differences between reliability and quality, illustrating how these concepts play important roles in the design and manufacturing processes.Adam also highlights the importance of using proper methods for early risk assessment, ensuring a more dependable final product. He shares his creative approach to making reliability concepts accessible to everyone through comic book guides, aimed at simplifying complex tools and techniques.Listen in to gain valuable insights into how robust product design can lead to dominating the market, the significance of balancing multiple factors in product development, and practical tips for incorporating reliability engineering principles across various industries!Time Stamps:[1:29] - Adam, born in New York, now lives in Boston after working in Denmark for two years.[3:54] - Adam shares how he pretended not to understand Danish so that a homeless person switched to English for spare change.[5:00] - Learn where the title of Devastate the Competition comes from.[6:17] - Adam explains the concept of reliability engineering.[8:48] - Quality ensures consistency in manufacturing, while reliability creates robust designs for durable, useful technology.[10:00] - Adam touches upon why he wrote Reliability Culture and why he wrote Devastate the Competition.[13:07] - Adam aims to prevent regrets in product development by establishing processes for wise, efficient decisions.[14:46] - Adam explains his R-Three blueprint.[16:50] - Adam emphasizes the importance of product ratio factors in decision-making.[18:24] - Adam suggests prioritizing robust design for proactive decision-making and smoother processes.[21:29] - It’s important to align individual goals with overall business objectives for success.[24:00] - Etienne discusses how individuals in different roles prioritize their incentives, possibly leading to deviations from the intended path.[25:10] - Adam advocates for measuring "time to reliability" for better decision-making.[28:54] - Adam explains the sawtooth pattern in software reliability curves.[31:00] - Reduce software bugs by identifying and eliminating infrequently used code through script scanning.[32:02] - Hear how Adam simplifies reliability concepts via comic books, aiming to make fundamental tools more accessible.[35:20] - Adam explains why he finds the term HALT (Highly Accelerated Life Test) misleading.[37:26] - Adam compares reliability tools to car controls, advocating for their accessibility and understanding.[39:13] - Etienne discusses technical debt, emphasizing the trade-offs made in software development for faster time to market.[41:21] - Where can listeners reach Adam?We have 200+ CTOs in peer groups: Quick Testimonials VideoContact Etienne: Website / YouTube / LinkedIn / X / Instagram / The CTO Podcast WebsiteContact Adam: Website / Instagram / LinkedInAdam's Books: Devastate the Competition / How Reliable Is Your Product? / Reliability CultureAdam’s Podcast Get full access to The CTO Podcast at
Etienne is joined in this episode by Nell Derick Debevoise, the founder of Inspiring Capital which helps leaders grow their business with purpose and build impactful legacies. Nell has advised leaders at American Express, Cisco, Google and more, and she focuses on expanding impact, growing businesses and building legacies that are inclusive, anti-racist and sustainable. Etienne and Nell discuss East Coast vs. West Coast cultures, with Nell reflecting on her experiences in New England and California, and how these cultural differences shape leadership styles and priorities. They also discuss the importance of purposeful leadership to overcoming the paralysis of overthinking, with Nell offering practical advice drawn from her book, Going First: Finding the Courage to Lead Purposefully and Inspire Action.Etienne and Nell also candidly dive into the challenges and rewards of purpose-driven work, sharing personal anecdotes and reflections on their journeys. From navigating the complexities of international service work to empowering local communities, they discuss strategies for maximizing impact within one's sphere of influence.Listen in to gain valuable insights into aligning your personal values with your professional endeavors, overcoming self-doubt and insecurity, and fostering collaboration within purpose-driven organizations. Whether you're a seasoned leader seeking to reignite your passion or you’re a newcomer navigating the intersection of purpose and profit, this episode offers actionable tips and insight for making a meaningful impact in today's world!Time Stamps:[1:52] - Etienne discusses having walked the East Coast before settling in California.[4:09] - Nell, influenced by New England, values a blend of progressive and traditional ideals, particularly regarding nature.[5:49] - Etienne misses seasons and makes note of his children's unfamiliarity with weather changes.[8:03] - Nell reflects on what stood out to her the most from her last dinner meeting with Etienne.[11:19] - Nell highlights the superficiality of American identity, contrasting it with the authenticity observed in European culture.[13:16] - Hear how Nell's international work in human development emphasized holistic, purpose-driven development.[15:43] - The essence of "teaching the right people" is leading purposefully and inspiring action through everyday courage.[17:12] - What motivated Nell to write her book?[20:22] - Etienne contemplates bridging the gap between massive enterprises and individual humanity, especially in education.[22:34] - Nell addresses the challenge of maintaining purpose amid complexity, urging acknowledgment and focused persistence.[24:25] - Nell advocates for Seth Godin's idea of "niching up," making a localized impact within one's sphere of influence.[27:06] - Etienne reflects on the desire to address grand challenges all at once, advocating for steady but meaningful impact.[28:26] - Aligning actions with purpose, whether asking for donations or engaging directly with communities, is crucial.[31:10] - Etienne expresses frustration with inaction despite ample support and opportunity to make a difference.[33:05] - Hear Etienne share an inspiring story of community transformation sparked by a small investment as he laments his own inaction.[35:15] - Nell discusses how insecurity can hinder bold action and impact, emphasizing the need to be confident in one's goals.[38:42] - Nell suggests framing the past five years positively, emphasizing meaningful change and exciting progress.[39:36] - Stephen Covey's concept differentiates between our concerns and what we can influence, highlighting impactful actions.[42:25] - Recognizing the scope of influence involves not just identifying issues but also effective solution delivery.[44:22] - Nell plans to leverage her upcoming trip to San Diego for revenue-generating opportunities.[47:18] - Learn about a key tool that Nell uses to assess individuals' energy for team or project contributions which enhances collaboration.We have 200+ CTOs in peer groups: Quick Testimonials VideoContact Etienne: Website / YouTube / LinkedIn / X / Instagram / The CTO Podcast WebsiteContact Nell: LinkedIn / PurposeFusedNell’s Book Get full access to The CTO Podcast at
Etienne is so happy to be sitting down with his good friend Joel Beasley for this episode. Joel is the mastermind behind the Modern CTO Podcast and founder of Pro Series Media, and he is here for an enlightening conversation on the ins and outs of podcasting. With years of experience under his belt, Joel shares invaluable insights on starting, cultivating, managing, and scaling a successful podcast.From the importance of in-person interviews to the art of crafting compelling questions, Joel breaks down the key elements that make a podcast stand out, emphasizing the significance of building genuine connections with guests and providing valuable content to listeners and stressing that quality engagement is more important than quantity.Joel's approach to podcasting is refreshingly authentic, focusing on human relationships and meaningful conversations rather than gimmicks or marketing tactics. He shares his journey from focusing solely on technical leaders to exploring groundbreaking ideas shaping humanity, inspired by visionaries like Jordan Peterson.Listen as Joel offers practical advice for aspiring podcasters, from niche selection and guest outreach to effective interviewing techniques. He emphasizes the value of preparation, genuine curiosity, and caring for both guests and audience members.Joel also unveils his plans for the upcoming Joel Beasley Show, where he aims to dive deeper into transformative ideas and continue fostering meaningful connections. With Joel's expertise and passion for podcasting, listeners are in for a treat as they embark on their own podcasting journey or simply tune in to enjoy engaging conversations with fascinating individuals!Time Stamps:[2:31] - Joel feels that in-person interactions foster deeper connections compared to remote ones, enhancing relationships and responsiveness.[4:39] - Exploring diverse perspectives and groundbreaking ideas drives Joel's new show, inspired by transformative encounters.[7:35] - Joel argues that human connections hinge on shared values and content quality, reflected in his authentic podcast approach.[10:12] - Prioritize genuine connections over high conversion rates; quality relationships yield long-term podcast success.[13:18] - Invites based on episode performance prioritize engaging guests.[15:59] - Etienne and Joel met seven years ago when Etienne launched 7CTOs.[17:08] - Joel reveals that he plans to offer free, high-quality podcast creation content to build trust with businesses.[19:27] - Joel outlines a B2B podcast course focusing on niche identification and audience value delivery.[22:23] - Etienne admires marketing instincts, recognizing simplicity and potential in targeting conference audiences.[23:43] - Joel delegated conference research after obtaining options from a hired research analyst.[26:34] - Joel shares how he discovered a passion for sales, emphasizing value and dedication in podcast production.[29:04] - Joel emphasizes the core of podcasting: serving listeners by aligning audience needs with valuable content.[33:17] - Joel aims to assist creators transitioning to professional podcasting, stressing value, guest validation, and collaboration.[36:55] - Joel finds coaching the host to be rewarding due to their innate curiosity and care, key success traits.[38:31] - Consider turning coaching expertise into a podcast, offering recorded sessions to address common challenges.[40:05] - Joel advocates for hiring a local videographer for professional setup, maximizing quality without breaking the bank.[43:12] - Joel prioritizes audience value in conversations, subtly promoting podcast services and achieving 10% client conversion.[45:02] - Joel reflects on having sent 250 emails nightly, refining the process, highlighting problem-solving abilities.[47:47] - Joel bases his prices on team size, offering packages or individual options.[48:31] - Joel is planning to launch The Joel Beasley Show in early fall.We have 200+ CTOs in peer groups: Quick Testimonials VideoContact Etienne: Website / YouTube / LinkedIn / X / Instagram / The CTO Podcast WebsiteContact Joel: LinkedIn / Modern CTO Podcast / ProSeries Media Get full access to The CTO Podcast at
Etienne sits down this episode with Alex Balazs, the CTO of Intuit, for an eye-opening discussion on vulnerability, leadership, and the cutting-edge realm of generative AI. Alex shares insights from his journey, from TurboTax's chief architect to leading technology at Intuit. He delves into the pivotal role vulnerability plays in effective leadership, emphasizing the importance of authenticity and humanity in fostering collaboration and innovation.Alex sheds light on the transformative potential of generative AI and its applications in revolutionizing customer experiences. From enhancing email marketing with MailChimp to reimagining tax preparation with TurboTax, Alex reveals how Intuit is leveraging AI to deliver tangible benefits to users.Alex and Etienne also navigate the challenges of staying ahead in a rapidly evolving technological landscape. Alex emphasizes the need for CTOs to dream big, experiment boldly, and prioritize customer impact, and he underscores the power of community and collaboration in driving positive change, urging technologists to harness their skills for the greater good.Through anecdotes and insights, Alex inspires listeners to embrace vulnerability, seize opportunities, and leverage technology for transformative impact. Join Etienne and Alex in this enlightening conversation about the intersections of leadership, technology, and human connection.Time Stamps:[1:09] - Alex discusses how he progressed from Turbotax's chief architect to Intuit's chief technology officer.[3:23] - Vulnerability, often overlooked in leadership, fosters connection and strength, a crucial lesson in leadership.[5:09] - Alex argues that shifting from having answers to asking questions fosters growth and leadership.[8:23] - Being a CTO can feel lonely, but community support humanizes and strengthens leadership.[10:29] - Etienne discusses how the accessibility and humility of influential leaders contrast with those of smaller companies.[12:00] - Mastering scale is crucial for large company CTOs, balancing priorities and fostering efficiency.[15:15] - The rapid progress of generative AI and cutting-edge hardware designs signal groundbreaking technological advancements.[18:32] - Alex points out how the rapid evolution of technology has made home automation mainstream.[19:45] - Alex shares a story of how during a loud event like the Super Bowl halftime show, noise-canceling earbuds offered a safer, clearer experience.[22:03] - Etienne argues that navigating disruptions and commitments as a CTO demands staying informed and strategic.[24:21] - According to Alex, to truly shake things up with tech, it's not about being just slightly better but rather ten times superior.[26:26] - Intuit prioritizes customer impact, aiming for tenfold improvement with AI innovations.[29:19] - Alex discusses how generative AI shifts tech to prioritizing accuracy over human fallibility, which requires education.[31:48] - Tech innovation now surpasses predictions; building adaptable organizations is key to embracing disruption.[34:08] - Alex points out that we should be embracing both practical and groundbreaking cases for innovation.[36:49] - Alex closes by encouraging community support, networking, and dreaming big to leverage technology for positive change.We have 200+ CTOs in peer groups: Quick Testimonials VideoContact Etienne: Website / YouTube / LinkedIn / X / Instagram / The CTO Podcast WebsiteContact Alex: LinkedInSchedule a meeting with Etienne on Calendly Get full access to The CTO Podcast at
Join Etienne on the latest episode of the CTO Podcast as he dives into the world of RF communication, encryption, and AI with Dell Kronewitter, Director of Technology at Fuze Integration!Dell provides insights into encryption concepts like red and black sides and how they relate to secure communication. He and Etienne explore the fascinating world of satellite communications and the role of AI in a hybrid, highly regulated environment. From discussing the challenges of maintaining communication integrity amidst atmospheric interference to the intricacies of managing a hybrid engineering team, Dell shares valuable perspectives on navigating complex technological landscapes. Also discover how Fuze Integration leverages innovative solutions like the Virtual Network Testbed and the Tannen's Tactile Airborne Network Simulator to drive advancements in communication technology.With insights into the evolving role of AI and machine learning in optimizing network performance, this episode offers a captivating glimpse into the future of communication technology. Tune in for an engaging discussion that blends technical expertise with real-world insights, providing a comprehensive overview of the cutting-edge developments shaping the world of RF communication and beyond!Time Stamps:[2:05] - Using a whiteboard as a crutch can complicate explanations and lose audience focus.[4:38] - At Fuze, Dell strengthens engineering processes, focusing on user-centric design.[5:54] - Dell explains how, in secure communication, Alice and Bob encrypt messages to keep Eve from intercepting.[8:25] - Dell’s work blends commercial and military tech, ensuring secure communication with patented innovations.[11:44] - The Encryptor, certified by the NSA, requires careful key handling for secure communication.[14:26] - Dell reveals that Satcom connections are often commercial; military radios include encryption for secure communication.[16:41] - Dell monitors for jamming and stores cross-layer information for analysis.[19:17] - The Blue Angels' close formations are achieved manually, showcasing remarkable piloting skills and coordination.[20:22] - Does Dell’s technology expand to satellites?[22:46] - Satellites use laser communication for cross-linking, benefiting from space's optimal conditions.[25:19] - Dell reveals how, after a prototype satellite launch, he left the company; Orbcomm launched eight satellites, landing boosters successfully.[28:07] - Dell manages standard configuration processes, integrating new tech and gathering customer input for product enhancement.[29:53] - Dell touches upon how integrating diverse teams presents challenges in product development.[31:23] - Dell employs Virtual Network Testbed for government projects, simulating RF channels for software refinement.[34:03] - Achieving fidelity in flight simulations requires control of multiple variables and data acquisition.[37:52] - Dell reflects on how navigating challenges in team dynamics and processes reveals evolving perspectives and improvements.[39:44] - Dell optimizes networks with machine learning, facing challenges in high-dimensional problems.We have 200+ CTOs in peer groups: Quick Testimonials VideoContact Etienne: Website / YouTube / LinkedIn / X / Instagram / The CTO Podcast WebsiteContact Dell: LinkedInSchedule a meeting with Etienne on Calendly Get full access to The CTO Podcast at
Etienne is excited to be sitting down with Mourad Zerroug, CTO of Splash, for a captivating conversation about their experiences as immigrants in the United States, diving into their respective backgrounds from Algeria and South Africa.From there, the two explore Mourad's journey as a technology leader for nearly three decades, spanning various industries such as robotics, e-commerce, and event technology. With a PhD in computer science from the University of Southern California, Mourad shares some great insights into the evolving landscape of AI and its profound impact on developer teams.Mourad and Etienne also discuss the transformative potential of AI tools like GitHub Copilot, offering a glimpse into how these technologies are reshaping the way engineers work and collaborate. Delving into broader themes of identity and societal change, they reflect on their African heritage and the shifting paradigms of communication in the age of generative AI.Join Etienne and Mourad as they navigate the intersection of technology, culture, and human ingenuity in this thought-provoking episode.Time Stamps:[2:49] - Mourad argues that African identity embodies rich diversity in history, language, and culture, experienced personally and globally.[4:11] -  Growing up bilingual, Mourad's accent reflects diverse linguistic influences.[5:59] - Mourad highlights firsthand involvement in mentoring Algerian tech entrepreneurs, emphasizing innovation and problem-solving for economic development.[8:02] - Mourad reflects on his journey having navigated language barriers and adapting his communication methods.[9:35] - In his role as a CTO, Mourad navigates deploying innovation, leveraging tech advancements, and embracing AI's transformative power.[12:16] - Etienne reflects on the profound impact of mobile technology, highlighting the shift towards collective knowledge and the implications of AI models like GPT.[13:59] - Mourad delves into the transformative impact of AI, evolving beyond mere convenience to augmenting human intelligence.[16:38] - Etienne marvels at AI's rapid learning curve, contrasting human learning with models' instant replication and comprehension.[18:10] - Mourad discusses adapting to generative AI, bridging communication gaps.[20:01] - Coding has changed in that expertise now lies in basic models accessible through natural language.[23:18] - Mourad points out how professionals embrace AI for innovation, boosting efficiency, satisfying customers, and enhancing operations.[26:36] - Learn how Mourad leverages enterprise solutions and AI, enhancing communication, messaging, and engagement.[29:54] - GitHub Copilot's feedback indicates that it won't replace engineers but aids in code generation.[31:37] - Mourad predicts that code generation tools hint at a future where verbal instructions may replace manual coding.[34:42] - Emerging frameworks like AWS Bedrock and Hugging Face streamline application development.[37:24] - Mourad feels that future programming could allow anyone to deploy complex applications using natural language prompts.[38:59] - Etienne argues that generative AI reshapes our understanding of technology, blurring lines between user and machine interaction.[41:43] - Mourad agrees, adding that current technology blurs the line between human behavior and technology, fostering an emotional connection.[44:11] - Books on AI such as AI Superpowers by Kai-Fu Lee explore its global impact and geopolitical implications. Get full access to The CTO Podcast at
Etienne is very excited to welcome Jennifer Cwagenberg, Head of Engineering at Protopia AI, to the podcast for an engaging discussion spanning technology, farming, and even the intersection of the two. Jennifer shares insights into her unique lifestyle as a technologist and baroness of Texas, where she navigates the balance between rural tranquility and technological challenges.Their conversation delves into Jennifer's engineering journey, from her telecom beginnings to her diverse roles at companies like and Toyota, ultimately leading to her current role at Protopia AI. Jennifer provides a fascinating glimpse into Protopia's innovative approach to data protection for AI models, showcasing how their technology enables businesses to retain ownership of their data while still leveraging AI capabilities.Beyond technology, Jennifer sheds light on the parallels between farming practices and engineering principles, highlighting the importance of efficiency, adaptability, and continuous improvement in both areas. Drawing parallels between optimizing soil health and streamlining code, Jennifer emphasizes the value of making the right practices easy for engineers, thus fostering a culture of excellence and innovation.The conversation also touches on team dynamics, tool preferences, and the importance of enforcing coding standards to ensure maintainability and scalability of projects. Jennifer's dedication to creating unified developer experiences truly highlights her commitment to streamlining processes and maximizing productivity within her team.Join Etienne and Jennifer as they explore the fascinating intersection of technology, agriculture, and engineering philosophy, offering valuable insights for both seasoned professionals and aspiring technologists alike.Time Stamps:[2:07] - Jennifer points out how living in the countryside brings peace but lacks local community and good internet.[3:35] - Jennifer shares that she transitioned from telecom to startups, experiencing acquisitions and now focuses on AI data protection.[6:32] - Jennifer highlights the power and satisfaction of technology's immediate impact on society and individuals.[9:10] - Jennifer thrives on challenges across various domains, including farming, showcasing adaptability and passion for problem-solving in engineering.[12:48] - For her farm, adhering to no-till practices is crucial due to regulatory requirements and land conditions.[13:47] - How does Jennifer put her engineering prowess to good use on her farm?[16:19] - Both technology and farming require balancing effort - investing time wisely for impactful, achievable solutions.[18:57] - As VP of Engineering, Jennifer manages teams, contributes individually, and fills business needs.[20:23] - Protopia AI aims to unify developer experiences, leveraging VSCode for powerful collaboration and shared settings.[22:33] - Reading the book Clean Code impacted Jennifer profoundly, emphasizing best practices for writing maintainable, readable code.[25:30] - Jennifer points out that, as an engineer, managing various tasks from coding to security is challenging, but setting standards helps.[28:05] - Jennifer explains that enforcing pre-commit practices improves feedback speed, though it's not universal; CI/CD rules ensure code quality.Resources and Links Mentioned:Robert C. Martin - Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software CraftmanshipWe have 200+ CTOs in peer groups: Quick Testimonials VideoContact Etienne: Website / YouTube / LinkedIn / X / Instagram / The CTO Podcast WebsiteContact Jennifer: LinkedIn / Protopia AI WebsiteSchedule a meeting with Etienne on CalendlySee Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at Get full access to The CTO Podcast at
Joining Etienne this week on the podcast is Sean Nam, the CTO of Ivy Energy. Etienne engages in a multifaceted conversation with Sean, and they touch upon the intricacies of supporting founders during fundraising to reflections on technology giants like Apple and Uber.Sean provides insights into IV Energy's mission to revolutionize shared energy usage through solar platforms, shedding light on the challenges and innovations in the field, and as the conversation delves deeper, Sean and Etienne explore the dynamics of team management, fundraising endeavors, and the evolving role of a CTO. Sean's reflections on American democracy, viewed through the lens of a South African and a Korean immigrant, also add a thought-provoking layer to the discussion.Sean also offers a candid exploration of the challenges of participating in a democracy amidst distractions and complexities, resonating with both disappointment and a call for collective action. Tune in for a compelling dialogue that blends technical expertise with societal insights, offering a glimpse into the complexities of modern leadership and civic engagement.Time Stamps:[1:25] - What are Sean’s thoughts on Apple Vision Pro?[4:35] - Sean describes Ivy Energy’s mission.[7:30] - Learn about Sean’s team dynamics.[9:21] - Sean finds David Farley's insights refreshing, bridging software engineering with other technical disciplines.[10:42] - Learn how Sean's journey to leadership at Ivy Energy stemmed from seizing unexpected opportunities and challenges.[12:16] - Sean reflects on some of the lessons that he has been learning.[13:24] - Reflecting on venture capital dynamics through media like "Super Pumped" informs Sean's approach.[16:38] - Sean argues that effective collaboration between visionaries and their teams, like Steve Jobs with engineers, shapes success.[18:04] - Sean touches upon the significance of risk assessment.[20:01] - Balancing sales and marketing with product development ensures delivering on the promised vision.[22:51] - Transitioning from software engineer to CTO, Sean has honed communication skills and adapted to delayed feedback in leadership.[24:49] - Sean explains how giving feedback in a PR setting versus individually has a significant impact on individuals.[26:01] - Sean recently saw a news story involving a lack of attention leading to bribery in West Virginia.[28:30] - Etienne discusses how participating in democracy is challenging due to complexities; simpler systems are desired for all.[30:02] - The flaw in the US voting system lies in its historical complexity and lack of modernization.[33:10] - Sean asserts that politics becoming a show has led to exhaustion and disengagement and that systemic change requires collective effort.[36:02] - Sean feels that restricting information and education perpetuates autocracy.Resources and Links Mentioned:David Farley - Modern Software Engineering: Doing What Works to Build Better Software FasterWe have 200+ CTOs in peer groups: Quick Testimonials VideoContact Etienne: Website / YouTube / LinkedIn / X / Instagram / The CTO Podcast WebsiteContact Sean: LinkedInSchedule a meeting with Etienne on CalendlySee Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at Get full access to The CTO Podcast at
Etienne is thrilled to sit down with Tracie Hlavka, former CTO of Flyhomes, to discuss the tumultuous journey of rapid scale and the poignant process of winding down a company. Tracie reflects on her experience navigating the job market amidst layoffs and shifting funding landscapes, shedding light on the challenges of finding the right fit in a tough market.Tracie and Etienne also delve into the complexities of managing a tech team during rapid growth and downsizing, highlighting the delicate balance between building scalable systems and adapting to changing circumstances. Tracie shares insights into the intricacies of hiring and team organization, emphasizing the importance of aligning technology with business objectives and fostering a culture of resilience.The conversation also touches on the emotional toll of layoffs and the significance of empathetic leadership in times of transition. As Tracie explores her journey of self-discovery and career exploration, she also reflects on the lessons learned from the book Designing Your Life and the value of embracing possibility amidst uncertainty. Join Etienne and Tracie as they navigate the highs and lows of the tech industry, offering valuable insights for CTOs and aspiring leaders alike.Time Stamps:[1:59] - Tracie finds the current market tough, especially for series B/C startups and consumer-facing ventures.[3:44] - Tracie sees a challenging cycle in rapid scaling, grappling with evolving processes and clinging to past achievements.[6:21] - Hear how Tracie finds rapid scaling exhilarating, despite its challenges, embracing the process of hiring and growth.[8:21] - Tracie relishes the challenge of building systems and teams to support rapid company growth.[10:59] - For each hire, Tracie conducts around ten interviews, with approximately 100 applicants for consideration.[13:30] - Tracie argues that hiring can initially be inefficient, requiring time for new hires to integrate and become productive.[16:57] - Tracie advocates for yearly adjustments in team structure to match business needs, balancing deep expertise with innovation.[20:02] - Managing code boundaries and team dynamics becomes challenging when splitting teams to match organizational growth.[23:40] - Tracie points out that educating about realistic technology expectations involves managing the desire to scale prototypes instantly.[24:44] - Tracie argues for the importance of handling layoffs with empathy.[26:24] - Adapting to rapid changes requires adjusting systems.[29:35] - Tracie shares that she found solace in taking time off and exploring the book Designing Your Life to navigate career choices.[30:49] - Exploring alternative scenarios and milestones through exercises fosters openness to new possibilities and insights.Resources and Links Mentioned:Bill Burnett & Dave Evans - Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful LifeWe have 200+ CTOs in peer groups: Quick Testimonials VideoContact Etienne: Website / YouTube / LinkedIn / X / Instagram / The CTO Podcast WebsiteSchedule a meeting with Etienne on CalendlySee Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at Get full access to The CTO Podcast at
Etienne is very happy to be sitting down with Matt Van Itallie, founder of Sema, a company that develops software to help engineering leaders manage AI in software development. As they delve into their shared experiences of learning to code on vintage machines, they explore Matt's journey from studying philosophy to founding Sema.The conversation takes a philosophical turn, discussing pragmatism in decision-making and the importance of clarifying outcomes, and Etienne and Matt also dissect the complexities of C-suite dynamics and the challenges of resolving conflicts within leadership teams. Matt shares insights on the significance of developer retention and the metrics that matter most on a CTO dashboard, and the discussion touches on the art of listening, empathy, and the power of effective communication within organizations.As they plan a session on pivot tables, Matt also emphasizes the value of community, highlighting the support and inspiration found in groups like 7CTOs. Tune in for a thought-provoking conversation on leadership, problem-solving, and the human side of technology!Time Stamps:[2:09] - Learn how Matt’s academic journey expanded with a focus on law's evolution and late 19th-century pragmatism.[4:56] - Matt argues that our brains seek to make sense of things.[7:24] - Etienne reflects on navigating conflicting perspectives among C-Suite members, highlighting the challenge of coherence.[10:23] - Focus on critical outcomes, not just outputs.[12:25] - Matt emphasizes fostering understanding through clarifying outcomes and promoting inclusive dialogue and contributions.[15:58] - Matt suggests identifying underlying causes of communication issues and resolving conflicts promptly for organizational success.[16:40] - Hear how Matt prioritizes organizational goals over personal interests, advocating for a values-based decision-making approach.[18:46] - Matt explains how Sema goes about making decisions pragmatically.[21:07] - The opposite of pragmatism might be scrutiny, but pragmatism focuses on moving forward effectively.[24:45] - Mastering pivot tables symbolizes problem-solving prowess, transforming decision-making with raw data access.[28:03] - Discover how pivotal moments led to Sema's inception in 2015, spurred by tech challenges and leadership insights.[30:50] - Matt explains how, inspired by a Bloomberg article, he delved into tech research in 2015, seeking innovation.[32:25] - Matt pursued tech research, seeking licenses from 250 professors; one acceptance birthed Sema.[34:40] - Matt discusses developer retention, a pivotal metric, and how it holds 25 points on Sema's 100-point scale.[37:40] - Etienne shares a story in which a key developer's silence flagged a possible departure, highlighting the important role of product vision clarity.[39:16] - Matt asserts that effective people management discerns subtle shifts in participation, vital for organizational success and cohesion.[41:49] - Matt encourages us to prioritize listening qualitatively to one's team before relying solely on data-driven tools.[43:44] - Etienne agrees, adding that mastering listening is as complex as it is crucial, often underestimated despite its profound impact.We have 200+ CTOs in peer groups: Quick Testimonials VideoContact Etienne: Website / YouTube / LinkedIn / X / Instagram / The CTO Podcast WebsiteContact Matt: Sema Website / LinkedIn / XSchedule a meeting with Etienne on CalendlySee Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at Get full access to The CTO Podcast at
Etienne sits down with Krijn van der Raadt, a seasoned CTO with a rich history of steering both startups and established tech giants toward successful exits. Krijn, now a fractional CTO and advisor to startups, shares insights gained and collaborative problem-solving experiences with fellow CTOs. They explore the challenges of transitioning from a technical role to a leadership position and the common pitfalls faced by startups when scaling their engineering teams.Dive into the conversation as Krijn reflects on his journey from Great Call to Health App Folio, discussing leadership styles, organizational structures, and the Goldilocks rate of growth. The episode unfolds with a fascinating discussion on managing budgets in different scenarios, exploring the nuances of constrained vs. surplus spending and the impact on team motivation.Krijn also sheds light on his passion for preparedness and frugality, drawing parallels between his Dutch background and his approach to leadership. Etienne and Krijn delve into the significance of scarcity as an inspiration for quality work, touching on the dynamics of team motivation and purpose.The episode takes a turn into the realm of simulations and imagination, where Krijn recommends Jane McGonigal's Imaginable. Discover how the lessons from simulations can transform leadership approaches, enhance team collaboration, and prepare for unforeseen challenges.Krijn wraps up with insights into tools like ChatGPT and Jupyter notebooks, offering practical tips for effective utilization. Tune in to explore the multifaceted world of leadership, technology, and the human element with Krijn and Etienne in this engaging and insightful episode.Time Stamps:[2:57] - Krijn highlights the challenges of evolving from a founding engineer to an effective CTO in startups.[4:33] - Etienne and Krijn discuss the fascination of transitioning from a technical role to a leadership position.[6:46] - Krijn shares his experiences with constrained spending and the motivation it provides for quality work.[9:11] - The discussion turns to the impact of excessive funds on team motivation and product success.[11:37] - Krijn relates his passion for preparedness, fiscal responsibility, and strategic planning.[13:19] - Krijn reflects on Jane McGonigal's Imaginable and its influence on leadership and team collaboration.[17:39] - Etienne delves into the importance of bringing stakeholders along through scenario painting.[20:53] - Listen as Krijn highlights the value of ChatGPT and AI tools in enhancing productivity and problem-solving.[23:19] - Krijn advocates for the widespread adoption of tools like Copilot and ChatGPT for increased productivity.[26:23] - Krijn explores the role of a Python library.[29:05] - Krijn shares his concern about the prevalence of poor leadership and the need for sincerity and humility.[30:49] - Etienne reflects on the challenges of leadership and the importance of staying connected to the purpose.[33:51] - The discussion touches on the disconnect between leadership positions and the tactical understanding required.[36:09] - Etienne discusses the importance of recognizing and reconciling different perspectives within the organization.[38:35] - Krijn emphasizes the significance of leaders inspiring trust through sincerity, humility, and a lack of ego.Resources and Links Mentioned:leadcto.comJane McGonigal - ImaginableWe have 200+ CTOs in peer groups: Quick Testimonials VideoContact Etienne: Website / YouTube / LinkedIn / X / Instagram / The CTO Podcast WebsiteSchedule a meeting with Etienne on CalendlySee Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at Get full access to The CTO Podcast at
Kevin Goldsmith, a seasoned CTO, mentor, and principal at Nimble Autonomy, joins the conversation today as we discuss Kevin's journey in technology leadership across the US, Sweden, and the UK, touching on his experiences and the release of his new book, It Depends: Writing on Technology Leadership 2012 to 2022.The discussion covers technology adoption, with a focus on ChatGPT and its recent Teams product. Kevin reveals how his team embraced ChatGPT, its role in policy creation, and the advantages of the Teams program for collaborative work. The conversation unfolds into a deeper exploration of the evolving role of CTOs, the future landscape for aspiring leaders, and the potential impact of advanced tools on development processes.Kevin, in addition, sheds light on the creation of his book, sharing insights into the inspiration behind the title It Depends and the unique approach that he took in preserving the original context of his blog posts. He touches on the audiobook creation process and the decision to self-release, emphasizing accessibility and convenience for readers.Kevin also offers us a glimpse into his vision for the future, both in terms of technology leadership and the evolving capabilities of generative text generators like ChatGPT. The candid and insightful conversation provides listeners with a multifaceted view of technology, leadership, and the intricate balance between innovation and the human touch, and you won't want to miss this conversation.Time Stamps:[00:33] - Kevin Goldsmith joins us today![03:42] - Kevin candidly shares that after years of struggling to quit smoking, he successfully quit when his child was conceived.[04:45] - Armed with a PhD in neuroscience, Kevin quit smoking cold turkey after moving to Europe.[07:38] - Having faced the challenge of using smoking breaks to clear his mind, Kevin now copes differently.[09:27] - Reflecting on sixteen years without smoking, Kevin recalls a unique experience at Microsoft leveraging smokers' restlessness.[11:32] - Kevin admits that, even in his pre-smoking days, he sometimes consciously chose to smoke influenced by the band scene that he was part of.[13:05] - Eager to explore new technologies, Kevin's team embraced ChatGPT, finding it to be a valuable and helpful tool.[15:42] - Kevin shares how ChatGPT has been a valuable tool for writing policies, streamlining their creation.[17:44] - Opting for efficiency in creating his book's index, Kevin used ChatGPT to automate the process.[19:03] - Kevin reflects on his role as a CTO, valuing his longevity.[20:29] - Kevin finds the diverse career paths of CTOs fascinating, noting the changed landscape enabling quicker advancements.[23:39] - Reflecting on the evolution of the CTO role, Kevin sees a richer learning landscape today.[27:42] - Kevin likens tools like ChatGPT to skilled interns, adept at routine tasks, but not for inventive or complex challenges.[29:57] - Despite excitement and venture capitalist interest, some ideas have never materialized or panned out.[32:57] - Kevin discusses how the new product, akin to ChatGPT+, offers additional features like admin interface, privacy settings, and team chat sharing.[35:09] - Kevin encourages using ChatGPT to seek code suggestions and streamline tasks, emphasizing its value despite initial skepticism.[39:29] - Preserving the original context of blog posts, Kevin's book, It Depends, explores timeless tech leadership themes.[41:01] - The book's title reflects Kevin's philosophy on nuanced technology leadership, emphasizing decision-making that depends on context.[43:42] - Kevin shares what inspired the idea behind his book.[46:39] - Kevin currently uses Podbean for his podcast but is contemplating self-hosting for a more contextual and enjoyable experience.[50:22] - Kevin reveals where It Depends can be purchased.[53:10] - Listeners are advised not to edit their own audiobook if they aren’t familiar with the process.Resources and Links Mentioned:It Depends: Writing on Technology Leadership 2012-2022 (Book)It Depends: Writing on Technology Leadership 2012-2022 (Podcast)Contact Etienne: Website / LinkedIn / X / The CTO Podcast WebsiteSee Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at Get full access to The CTO Podcast at
Just use Flutter -- Stephan Schmidt // Amazing CTOThis episode we discuss why you should just use Flutter instead of native apps, what Local AI means and why the Amazon CEO wants to get people back in the office - and how this is relevant for every CTO. Find out more as Stephan Schmidt, CTO Coach at Amazing CTO, discusses the future of CTOs. Show Notes.Connect With: Stephan Schmidt: Website // LinkedIn // TwitterThe CTO Podcast: Website // Speaker ApplicationEtienne de Bruin: Website // LinkedIn //  TwitterAmazing CTO Newsletter WebsiteSee Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at Get full access to The CTO Podcast at
The number of posts and votes on Stack Overflow is dropping, perhaps eaten by AI. Do they have an endgame strategy? Also, a new hacking attack via NPM, every CTO needs to be aware of that. And how diverse teams require more effort but are worth it. Find out more as Stephan Schmidt, CTO Coach at Amazing CTO, discusses the future of CTOs with AI. Show Notes.Connect With: Stephan Schmidt: Website // LinkedIn // TwitterThe CTO Podcast: Website // Speaker ApplicationEtienne de Bruin: Website // LinkedIn //  TwitterAmazing CTO Newsletter WebsiteSee Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at Get full access to The CTO Podcast at
What is the greenest programming language? More and more CTOs are getting asked about the CO2 and energy footprint of their operations. They start by calculating their AWS energy usage, but do you need a greener programming language? Will the CEO of the future tell developers which programming language to use? Find out more as Stephan Schmidt, CTO Coach at Amazing CTO, discusses the future of CTOs."Connect With: Stephan Schmidt: Website // LinkedIn // TwitterThe CTO Podcast: Website // Speaker ApplicationEtienne de Bruin: Website // LinkedIn //  TwitterSee Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at Get full access to The CTO Podcast at
More and more work will go into training models than programming, development teams are going to be leaner, and AI will not create software, it is the software. If you haven't started doing something with AI, you're too late for the game. How do you apply it to your business? Find out more as Stephan Schmidt, CTO Coach at Amazing CTO, discusses the future of CTOs with AI. Show NotesConnect With: Stephan Schmidt: Website // LinkedIn // TwitterThe CTO Podcast: Website // Speaker ApplicationEtienne de Bruin: Website // LinkedIn //  TwitterSee Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at Get full access to The CTO Podcast at