Wednesday, April 03, 2013

CTO? Whatever happened to passion?

How do you or your teams know when they are hiring the right person? If you were running a racing team with formula 1 cars would you hire someone that didn't know where your team stood in the world rankings? If you ran a film studio would you hire a director of photography that didn't take photographs?

Why then do so many technology companies hire managers and team leaders that don't give a hoot about the technology they work with?

Over the years I have worked with some of the best and brightest people in the technology business and I can say that the most valuable people are not necessarily the ones with the best on-paper qualifications. When you hire in a manager for a technology team you need to look for someone with good experience and good qualifications sure but when you ask that person what they like to do in their spare time you will tell the ones that are dedicated to the technology by the kind of things that drive their passions.

When hiring these days we are faced with a minefield of human-resource oriented do's and dont's about the questions that we ask but when the interview is over and the technical grilling is done take time to get a feeling for the passions of the person. If you're hiring for a technology post and the passion is mountain bikes and scuba diving then you might get a perfectly competent and wonderful person who can't wait to leave on a friday to hit the beach or the mountain trail. On the other hand, if that person builds robot cars or has automated their apartment to respond to voice commands a-la Star Trek then you can be reasonably assured that their passions will be applied in their work and they will be constantly training themselves for your benefit - for free!

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