The job of a chief technology officer (CTO) requires extensive knowledge of technological issues from an executive level. But tech knowledge alone does not make a world class CTO. Peter Mourfield, CTO at TaxSlayer in Augusta, believes customer service and great communication skills go hand in hand with the job.
“I always like to tell folks they think it’s “chief technology officer” but in my mind it stands for customer, technology, and organization,” explains Mourfield.
CTOs are often dubbed “the evangelists” because they don’t just sit behind computer screens, but interact personally within the company and with customers and work to ensure the delivery of products and services. Customer service is a vital part of a CTO’s job, as well as knowledge and experience using technology to grow a company and reach customers.
“With organization, I’m making sure we have a culture that fosters innovation to leverage creative skills,” says Mourfield.
Mourfield explains that a CTO is a problem solver. “Any CTO who is going to be successful needs to learn to focus on people. [CTOs] have to develop the ability to [skillfully] help people along the way.”
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Mourfield started writing code at age 12 on an Apple IIe computer, one of the earliest home computers in the United States. Though he spent many years writing code and sitting behind a computer, he enjoys and appreciates combining his technological knowledge with his love for people and good customer service.
“What motivates me is helping those around me grow in their own career,” he says. “I like to see folks around me be successful and have victories, celebrate wins, and learn from things that didn’t go well.”
In this day and age, it’s not enough to only know one thing. Technology knowledge is not enough without understanding the human side of business. CTOs bring technology and people together in a unique and important way.
“There are people who are technically-minded and interact well, able to bridge the gap between tech and business,” says Mourfield. “The stereotypical nerd who likes to be locked away eating Cheetos doesn’t really exist much I think. There are people who are passionate about their craft, but also passionate and interact with business and deliver product.”