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Question - Topics: Engineering, Jobs, Entrepreneur
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verichip
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Posted On: 2018-02-22 00:40:47
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What is difference between CTO and VP Of Technology?

I see job offers for CTO and VP Of Technology where sometime CTO is reporting to VP Of Technology and sometimes vis versa. So my question is What is difference between CTO and VP Of Technology? Are they on the same level or which one is supposed to be higher in ranking in the corporate power ladder?

Thanks.

Answers & Comments: 17
kansagous
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5 months 1 day ago

It really depends on the company. In a company in which both roles exists, the CTO is usually higher, although they could also be peers - same seniority level. The CTO focuses on the vision, the architecture and the communication, while the VP of Technology focuses on the team and the execution/processes. The cases in which the CTO reports to the VP of Technology are rare.

In companies in which they have either of the two roles, they are considered at the same seniority level, below either the President or the CEO :

If the company is led by a President, then the level reporting to him/her are Vice Presidents.

If the company is led by a CEO, then the level reporting to him/her are CxOs.
kansagous
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5 months 1 day ago

Here is my take on the responsibilities of the CTO versus VP Engineering roles.

CTO

The CTO is the #1 technical guru of the company. He or she has deep insights in the protectable technologies and core competencies of the company. He or she stays abreast of cutting edge research and development in his or her area of expertise, and in adjacent areas of interest that might have an impact on the company's technical direction.

The CTO loves technology, and often keeps his or her hands dirty doing advanced development for interesting new technologies. He or she sometimes maintain a small โ€œCTO officeโ€ of research engineers who can help him or her prototype things. This group can be permanently assigned, or they can be organized on a rotating basis, so a series of different engineers can enjoy the experience of working with the company's technical guru. The CTO usually does not maintain a large staff.

Since the CTO is responsible for thought leadership and for maintaining the technical edge of the company, he or she will often be a key contributor to the company blog. He or she is often tasked with managing the company's patent portfolio as well. This involves working with the VP of Engineering and his or her staff, as well as with the company's patent attorneys to craft and implement a solid intellectual property protection strategy, including filing patents to protect core technologies, and performing competitive analysis to ensure the company has the freedom to practice its core technologies without infringing on existing patents and the like.

The CTO has heavy influence into the technical strategy, which they co-develop with the VP of Engineering. He or she is part of the face of the company and usually takes on a lot of speaking engagements outside the company as part of a brand building process. He or she will also be significantly involved in technical due diligence for potential M&A deals.

VP Engineering


The VP Engineering role traditionally includes multiple aspects:

a) Personnel management โ€“ for small teams (up to 10 FTE), the VP Engineering is the direct supervisor of the technical staff. For larger teams (> 10 FTE), the VP E often manages contributing engineering managers, who serve as the direct supervisor of the technical staff. For teams at scale (> 100 FTE), the VP Eโ€™s direct reports will typically be senior level engineering directors, who in turn manage engineering managers.

b) Program management and engineering execution โ€“ the VP Engineering is responsible for ensuring that the product vision is realized through excellence in execution. There is typically an overall program plan that incorporates all inter-dependencies between functional disciplines (e.g. mechanical, electrical, controls, software), which in turn is a part of a company program plan that incorporates inter-dependencies between departments (e.g. engineering, marketing, business development)

c) Technical leadership โ€“ the VP Engineering is responsible for co-developing the technical strategy with the CTO, and for developing and maintaining a technical roadmap that will continue to innovate from a technical standpoint. The VP Engineering may personally serve as a systems architect, or may assign another engineer to assume that role.

d) Strategy development โ€“ the VP Engineering serves as part of the senior staff, working in an interdisciplinary manner with their peers in other departments (e.g. VP Marketing, VP Business Development, VP Manufacturing and Ops) as well as the CEO, CTO, and COO (if present) to develop company strategy and product strategy.

The VP Engineering is traditionally responsible for managing the annual bottom-up budget for the engineering department, which is often the biggest cost center for a technology based startup. This includes: headcount, consulting spend, prototyping costs, equipment cost, travel and entertainment, professional development, patent costs and more.
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11 months 1 week ago

get this straigt .He or she is often tasked with managing the company's patent portfolio as well
ipcinfo
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11 months 2 weeks ago

VP Engineering โ€” In my view it is important to distinguish the difference between the CTO and the โ€œVP Engineering.'' Because these titles are so often used I'm sure that some people will have hardened views about what they mean that are different than mine. ... The VP Engineering aspires to manage teams.
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1 year 6 days ago

Mais que fait alors le VP de la technologie? Quelle est la vรฉritable diffรฉrence entre CTO et VP Of Technology? Plus prรฉcisรฉment, qui est au-dessus de qui? Je veux dire que le CTO rapporte au VP Of Technology ou vice versa? Il me semble que ce sont des postes redondants. Ce que tu penses?
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1 year 3 weeks ago

Its really difficult to say the exact difference. You can check the difference between CTO and VP Of Technology on internet.
Akil123
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1 year 3 weeks ago

Here is my take on the responsibilities of the CTO versus VP Engineering roles. The CTO is the #1 technical guru of the company. He or she has deep insights in the protectable technologies and core competencies of the company. ... He or she is often tasked with managing the company's patent portfolio as well.
verichip
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1 year 3 weeks ago
But what does then the VP Of Technology do? What is the real difference between then CTO and VP Of Technology? More specifically, who is above whom? I mean does the CTO report to VP Of Technology or vis versa? It seems to me like they are redundant positions. What you think?
sud9ip
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1 year 2 weeks ago
It cannot be defined like this. It depends upon the the role and responsibility of individual position which is imposed by the company. Both positions are considered as Senior Level and cannot be compared to each other.
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Brian_Peters
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1 year 3 weeks ago

I have to answer this question by first knowing more about you.
What are you:
A- someone who is considering a Job, either CTO and VP Of Technology?
B- stat-up founder with tech background yourself seeking to fill his/her top roles
C- stat-up founder with OUT tech background yourself seeking to fill his/her top roles
verichip
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1 year 3 weeks ago
BP, my interest in this question really is based on A. Since I have an interest to change Jobs. Thanks.
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Manfred009
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1 year 3 weeks ago

CTO is a strategic role vs VP Of Technology being a tactical role.
verichip
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1 year 3 weeks ago
Sorry but what the HEK does that mean :)
I mean "strategic role vs tactical role"!
Manfred009
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1 year 3 weeks ago
There is a good explanation here:
http://code.dblock.org/2015/05/07/what-is-the-difference-between-cto-and-vp-or-head-of-engineering.html

In summary:
"CTO is to continuously ensure that all possible outcomes are enabled with technology, while the job of a VP or Head of Engineering is to execute on the outcome currently chosen"
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ThinkDeep
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1 year 3 weeks ago

Well CTO is on the same level as the CEO, pretty much. In fact many times CTO and CEOs are the co-founders. Whereas VP Of Technology is below the CEO to support the CEO. But there is no solid rule here, as far as their roles goes. I say in general there is great overlap between what a CTO does and VP Of Technology does and better only have one of them. But dont hold me to this as a solid rule since many swear by having both positions filled.
verichip
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1 year 3 weeks ago
Thanks man for this info.
So who is above whom: the CTO or the VP Of Technology?
And can both positions be merged into one? Doesnt it make more sense and created more corporate Harmony if they were?
Brian_Peters
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1 year 3 weeks ago
TD, that is a very good answer. I would just add to yours a more deeper explanation as outlined here:

https://bothsidesofthetable.com/want-to-know-the-difference-between-a-cto-and-a-vp-engineering-4fc3750c596b


Feel free to make any corrections.
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