Atypical Journey: From Anonymous Silence to CTO Stage (on Buser)

Posted on Jan 7, 2024

Newsletter about software engineering, team management, team building, books and lots of notes I take after reading/studying (mine or yours)… :D

embark on this journey to become a buser cto with me

While the path to the position of Chief Technology Officer (CTO) may seem similar to many, each story is uniquely extraordinary, colored by the unique combination of experiences, struggles and intensive learning. In “Invisible Learning”, John Seely Brown and David Thomas discuss how learning is often an invisible path, rooted not only in formalities, but also deeply woven into the fabric of our life experiences. This is my story within Buser.

From Anonymity to Center Stage

I joined Buser, not as CTO, but as a member of the software engineering team. Previously, I had been CTO at several companies and was enjoying the relative obscurity of this more reserved role, shying away from the limelight that usually accompanies the CTO function.

In one of my first one-to-one conversations with Tony Lampada - Buser’s CTO at the time - he expressed his desire to return to the engineering team, sharing his dissatisfaction with the CTO position. This is a relatively common move in technology, as described by Michael Lopp in Managing Humans. In response, I referred him to three other potential candidates, emphasizing that I wasn’t interested.

was enjoying my moment of “anonymity” and didn’t want to return to center stage (the CTO is constantly in the spotlight), it’s worth reading this blogpost (sorry for being in pt-BR).

When the Unthinkable Starts to Rumble - reflection is the way

Daniel Kahneman points out in “Fast and Slow: Two Ways of Thinking”, sometimes System 2 (our slow and thoughtful thinking)*, can be born out of unexpected encounters. The conversation with Tony remained etched in my mind for two months.

I decided to find an answer for myself as to why the idea of becoming CTO seemed to have taken root in my consciousness. One Monday, I acknowledged my insecurity to Tony: “I’m sure I’m not the best person to lead a technology team of 180 people, but if you think I can handle it and learn in a timely manner, let’s talk!”.

Continuous Learning as CTO

Despite my initial doubts, I accepted the role, aware that I had a lot to learn. Inspired by Carol Dweck in “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success”, adopting a growth mindset is crucial. I recognize that I’m not the best, I’m still on a journey of constant learning and improvement.

I admire the talents we have at Buser, some of the best engineers I’ve ever met (new professionals, but with the will to “make it happen”, with a great thirst for learning) and I remain convinced that each new company represents a “new flight”. Bruce Mau emphasizes in “Massive Limit”, to use previous knowledge as a basis, but never assume it as absolute truth. A previous history as a CTO does not equate to a perfect transition to the next one - it requires careful adaptation to the new environment.

In short, my history in the technology hierarchies is a mosaic of reflections, uncertainties, learnings and adaptations. To all aspiring tech leaders, the advice is: be open to unforeseen challenges, welcome constant learning and the humility to adapt and mold to the ever-changing landscape. A brilliant, perplexed and eager-to-learn spirit is the true engine of growth.

Of course I was “afraid” (created by my mental monsters), the difference was that I transformed the fear into energy to move me forward, not to block me/freeze me.

“if it doesn’t scare you, it’s not big enough”

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