As CTO, Mr. Salvi will execute Teikametrics’ vision and scale its market-leading technology platform while also overseeing the firm’s engineering and product teams.
Previously, he was vice president of engineering for Nanigans, Inc., where he led a team of developers, dev ops, IT and QA and focused on all platform and application development for its marketing automation platform. Prior to that, he was CTO and founder of Loopit, a venture-backed startup in the online retail space that was acquired by Nanigans. He’s also held technology lead positions at TripAdvisor, Media Group and launched Quick Hit, a company focused on freemium online sports games. Mr. Salvi also helped establish and grow the NanoBusiness Alliance, the U.S. trade organization for the nanotech industry.
“Teikametrics originally thought they needed a Head/VP of product but the more we dug in during our early conversations, it became clear that what they actually needed was an engineering leader with a product sensibility,” said Ms. Cashman.
Why Pedigree Mattered
Admittedly, she said, “since there was no true head of engineering up until this point, they had been doing things more on the fly, so they really needed a solid technical leader who was especially skilled at managing and developing junior staff; someone with an entrepreneurial spirit who could help bring in better process and enable them to scale.”
Culture fit in this case was critical, she noted. “They were very focused on the person’s pedigree – their schooling, what companies they had worked for, etc,” Ms. Cashman said. “The founder had just brought on another key executive (CRO Andy Coughlin) and they really wanted to find someone they trusted to be the final part of their leadership trifecta.”
40 Years of Advice
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Teikametrics is a Boston-based technology company that uses data science to optimize billions of dollars of transactions for hundreds of retailers selling on Amazon and other platforms. Teikametrics’ SaaS solution provides retailers with a multi-dimensional platform to help business owners optimize profitability, inventory levels, pricing, restocking workflows, pay-per-click advertising, and other data-driven operations.
CTOs In Hot Demand
Newly-named CTOs have been cropping up in a range of recent corporate hirings, from industrial giant GE to data management company NetApp to non-profits like the Museum of Modern Art. They all have named chief technology officers this past year.
Ms. Cashman has more than 20 years of search experience working with public, private and pre-IPO clients to execute searches in a wide variety of industries with companies including The Baupost Group, EBI Consulting, Best Doctors, Suffolk Construction, Bain & Company, and PC Connection. She maintains a deep-seated network within the Boston and New York technology leadership communities.
She recently sat down with Hunt Scanlon Media to take us inside the hunt for CTOs. In the following condensed interview, Ms. Cashman shares her views on recruiting chief technology officers, including where to find the talent, and what type of training top leaders in the field experience.
With regard to chief technology officers, Tracy, where do you find the best ones?
It depends on what the particular assignment requires but usually someone who has experience in both start-ups and more established companies brings a good balance of the ability to work in “the gray” and more process-oriented thinking. The CTO role used to be purely about technology but those people who are truly part of the executive team’s decision making are much more competitive in today’s market.
What’s the best type of training for making top CTOs?
I’m not sure there is one type of “training,” but certainly a strong technical foundation, whether through education or experience is critical. A CTO has to be passionate about technology and driven to stay up to date on the latest tools and trends, but ideally with an eye to keeping their companies competitive, and not just using technology for technology’s sake. Given the changing role of the CTO, formal or informal training on communication, working with different personality styles, and overall management philosophy are also important.
What traits/characteristics make up ideal CTOs?
The CTO role can vary considerably depending on what stage the company is at and what talent currently exists within – the company needs to consider what is most needed and what is going to best complement the rest of the executive team. There are CTOs (often founder/co-founders) who are the idea people, so they need to be creative visionaries but they may not be your best people managers. There are CTOs who bring a strong technical mindset and can lead very effective engineering processes but they may not have an eye towards the business. For many companies the ideal CTO is someone with a deep technical background and overall passion for technology; someone who has the ability to recruit, train and develop high-performing engineers while instituting strong engineering processes; and someone with the ability to think strategically and work with the rest of the executive team on what is best for the business.
Contributed by Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor, Hunt Scanlon Media