How I went from an Android developer to CTO of a Vietnamese e-commerce

CTO

I learned a few lessons while being a CTO at Loship, Vietnam’s one-hour delivery e-commerce startup founded in 2017. Some of them learned the hard way, by making mistakes. The leap from an Android developer to a CTO is as nerve-wracking as ambitious in terms of responsibilities.

For a long time, I’ve been thinking about sharing my ideas, and in this article, I’ll lay out some of the biggest lessons I’ve learned along the way.

Lesson #1: A CTO is a leadership role, not a management role

Management is the basis of the skillset required to become a CTO. However, a CTO is more than just that. You have to manage your team, but not micro-manage them; spend your time and efforts to inspire them to get behind your vision and do their jobs.

Look at ways to help your team grow both with their code and professionally.

You can also establish a culture of mentorship by partnering up senior and entry-level engineers for pair programming. At Loship, pair programming is our culture and something we’ve been consistent about since day one.

It allows better skills transfer as junior developers can learn and pick up techniques from more experienced team members.

Also, establishing a trusting relationship with your team members is important. Make your work relationship more than just work, in which we can freely share our thoughts, personal feelings, and even life problems we face.

Tell employees your name, not your title. Let your people know that you are a person first and a manager second.

Also Read: For gamers by gamers: How Razer incorporates its understanding of user behaviour into product development

Lesson #2: Speed matters

In the startup world, speed is probably the most important asset. I believe that when we’re small, we’re forced to work twice as hard and do it twice as fast, to go a distance twice as long. All else being equal, the fastest player in the market will win.

At Loship, we adopt Agile methodology in product development, with the mentality of “move fast and break things”. Most of the time, our scrum sprints are one-week long as our developers are used to fast-paced work and agile environments. One-week sprints open the door to learning more in less time.

This way, the work is reviewed promptly, and teams receive frequent feedback to improve their task results. Teams can prioritise more efficiently as the work is broken down into the smallest chunks possible.

I’m deeply driven by the belief that fast, good enough solutions are far better than slow-perfect ones and radically better than no solutions at all. Done is better than perfect. The best is the enemy of the good.

Lesson #3: It is acceptable for a CTO to code

I am likely in the minority, but I think any CTO should have the ability to code. I still code and programme daily, and I enjoy doing this aspect of work. But I force myself to code differently, much faster and more efficient than before.

And I take a broader perspective when writing each line of code as it will directly affect an entire business, not just a few small features. There’s a saying that I like: ‘Every line you code as a CTO is a line of code your team doesn’t understand.’ — M. Blankenship.

Also Read: As Glints CTO, this is what I want you to know about building an engineering team in Southeast Asia

It is undoubtedly true that the CTO has a broader range of responsibilities; however, I think competent CTOs should continue to code as long as they continue to keep pace with their other responsibilities.

Languages and tools are constantly changing, and being hands-on in code from time to time is a must-have to keep up with the latest and greatest.

Being hands-on also puts a CTO in developers’ shoes to see first-hand what works and what doesn’t and lead them accordingly.

Lesson #4: Don’t make tech flashy

Early in my career, I realised that technology serves human life. Developers live to solve real-life problems and create values that contribute to the betterment of society.

Innovation doesn’t need to be flashy to make a significant impact. If your flashy innovation efforts aren’t quickly turning into customer-pleasing, problem-solving products, your innovation isn’t operating correctly.

So, stay on the ground, reduce the glamour and put technology in the most natural position possible. That’s not to say flashy never works, nor that people and companies shouldn’t dream big. We need that, too. But sometimes, it is the uncool and boring stuff that can make a profound difference in our lives.

Lesson #5: Learning is an endless journey

Knowledge is power, and knowledge is what got you to where you are now —-and where you’ll be in the future. In the tech world, all your knowledge is old news within two to four years, so make sure you stay on top of new trends and technologies.

I always encourage all my team members to keep updated with technology news every day to grasp how the tech world out there is moving. This is how we can develop a growth mindset.

Also Read: Exclusive: She was the mastermind behind the Go-Jek app, now she’s out to help others succeed

Sign up for newsletters, read blogs, follow influencers, attend conferences, etc. It’s necessary to stay open and absorb as much information as possible to stay ahead of the curve.

Many other lessons have been learned, but these are the biggest ones I’ve grasped over the years, all part of being the CTO in a startup.

Editor’s note: e27 aims to foster thought leadership by publishing views from the community. Share your opinion by submitting an article, video, podcast, or infographic.

Join our e27 Telegram group, FB community, or like the e27 Facebook page

The post How I went from an Android developer to CTO of a Vietnamese e-commerce appeared first on e27.

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CTO

I learned a few lessons while being a CTO at Loship, Vietnam’s one-hour delivery e-commerce startup founded in 2017. Some of them learned the hard way, by making mistakes. The leap from an Android developer to a CTO is as nerve-wracking as ambitious in terms of responsibilities.

For a long time, I’ve been thinking about sharing my ideas, and in this article, I’ll lay out some of the biggest lessons I’ve learned along the way.

Lesson #1: A CTO is a leadership role, not a management role

Management is the basis of the skillset required to become a CTO. However, a CTO is more than just that. You have to manage your team, but not micro-manage them; spend your time and efforts to inspire them to get behind your vision and do their jobs.

Look at ways to help your team grow both with their code and professionally.

You can also establish a culture of mentorship by partnering up senior and entry-level engineers for pair programming. At Loship, pair programming is our culture and something we’ve been consistent about since day one.

It allows better skills transfer as junior developers can learn and pick up techniques from more experienced team members.

Also, establishing a trusting relationship with your team members is important. Make your work relationship more than just work, in which we can freely share our thoughts, personal feelings, and even life problems we face.

Tell employees your name, not your title. Let your people know that you are a person first and a manager second.

Also Read: For gamers by gamers: How Razer incorporates its understanding of user behaviour into product development

Lesson #2: Speed matters

In the startup world, speed is probably the most important asset. I believe that when we’re small, we’re forced to work twice as hard and do it twice as fast, to go a distance twice as long. All else being equal, the fastest player in the market will win.

At Loship, we adopt Agile methodology in product development, with the mentality of “move fast and break things”. Most of the time, our scrum sprints are one-week long as our developers are used to fast-paced work and agile environments. One-week sprints open the door to learning more in less time.

This way, the work is reviewed promptly, and teams receive frequent feedback to improve their task results. Teams can prioritise more efficiently as the work is broken down into the smallest chunks possible.

I’m deeply driven by the belief that fast, good enough solutions are far better than slow-perfect ones and radically better than no solutions at all. Done is better than perfect. The best is the enemy of the good.

Lesson #3: It is acceptable for a CTO to code

I am likely in the minority, but I think any CTO should have the ability to code. I still code and programme daily, and I enjoy doing this aspect of work. But I force myself to code differently, much faster and more efficient than before.

And I take a broader perspective when writing each line of code as it will directly affect an entire business, not just a few small features. There’s a saying that I like: ‘Every line you code as a CTO is a line of code your team doesn’t understand.’ — M. Blankenship.

Also Read: As Glints CTO, this is what I want you to know about building an engineering team in Southeast Asia

It is undoubtedly true that the CTO has a broader range of responsibilities; however, I think competent CTOs should continue to code as long as they continue to keep pace with their other responsibilities.

Languages and tools are constantly changing, and being hands-on in code from time to time is a must-have to keep up with the latest and greatest.

Being hands-on also puts a CTO in developers’ shoes to see first-hand what works and what doesn’t and lead them accordingly.

Lesson #4: Don’t make tech flashy

Early in my career, I realised that technology serves human life. Developers live to solve real-life problems and create values that contribute to the betterment of society.

Innovation doesn’t need to be flashy to make a significant impact. If your flashy innovation efforts aren’t quickly turning into customer-pleasing, problem-solving products, your innovation isn’t operating correctly.

So, stay on the ground, reduce the glamour and put technology in the most natural position possible. That’s not to say flashy never works, nor that people and companies shouldn’t dream big. We need that, too. But sometimes, it is the uncool and boring stuff that can make a profound difference in our lives.

Lesson #5: Learning is an endless journey

Knowledge is power, and knowledge is what got you to where you are now —-and where you’ll be in the future. In the tech world, all your knowledge is old news within two to four years, so make sure you stay on top of new trends and technologies.

I always encourage all my team members to keep updated with technology news every day to grasp how the tech world out there is moving. This is how we can develop a growth mindset.

Also Read: Exclusive: She was the mastermind behind the Go-Jek app, now she’s out to help others succeed

Sign up for newsletters, read blogs, follow influencers, attend conferences, etc. It’s necessary to stay open and absorb as much information as possible to stay ahead of the curve.

Many other lessons have been learned, but these are the biggest ones I’ve grasped over the years, all part of being the CTO in a startup.

Editor’s note: e27 aims to foster thought leadership by publishing views from the community. Share your opinion by submitting an article, video, podcast, or infographic.

Join our e27 Telegram group, FB community, or like the e27 Facebook page

The post How I went from an Android developer to CTO of a Vietnamese e-commerce appeared first on e27.

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