The Three Seats Of Engineering Leadership

The Three Seats Of Engineering Leadership 960 635 C-Suite Network

As of late, I have been meeting with startup founders at several stages to share a cup of coffee and some advice.

One key topic that came up almost during every single meeting involved the CTO, VP and director of engineering and how much confusion there is between each one of their roles and responsibilities.

Before I jump into explaining directly the set of responsibilities of each role, I think it is essential to set the context of my current position and the road that took me there.

I am currently the director of engineering at Demac Media. My journey to this position started back in 2010 when I began working as a freelancer for the company, helping it deliver its first Magento project. I eventually moved into a full-time position and have held different roles strictly on the engineering side.

In late 2015, we started growing our team at a significant rate and went from being a small agency with 20-plus people to at our peak of near 100. As the company grew in size and the engineering team nearly doubled in size, it started to become clear that a team that size — over 40 engineers — was putting a significant strain on the ability of the CTO to manage.

It was at this point that I decided to step in and ask for the role of director of engineering to help manage the load and responsibilities. With all that in context, let’s go ahead and talk about the three roles from top to bottom.


I like to describe this role as “The Hacker in Chief.” He or she is the leading architect, thinker, researcher, tester and tinkerer. Typically, the CTO will be one of the company co-founders.

CTOs love technology and often keep their hands dirty by doing advanced development…