Managing the growth of Equals Group – Jules Bean
With a keen interest in computers from an early age, Jules has been constantly coding since childhood. His undergraduate degree in Mathematics and his Ph.D. in Computer Science saw him secure a role as a research assistant and teacher at Queen Mary, University of London.
Once he was done with university Jules moved to FairFX and has been with the company for 13 years. In that time he’s seen two major acquisitions and a restructuring of the company into Equals. This transformation and its challenges are the subjects of this show.
3 tips for CTOs managing company growth
You need to be intentional about how you want your organisation to be structured:
When I took on the role of CTO 5 years ago I got thrown into the deep-end of leadership. Looking back at how our technology department has changed, my advice to anyone going through a phase of growth is to start thinking about questions like:
How big should your tech teams be?
How are you going to group your tech teams together?
How many teams are too many for one VP of Engineering?
How will decisions be made amongst teams and then communicated?
Who’s going to set goals for each tech team and across the department and who will be responsible for owning those goals?
If I’d had someone talk me through those questions five years ago it would have been extremely helpful!
You need to ask yourself: how is your technology platform going to grow?
Are your technical processes scaleable? If you have a team of 5 programmers and you have to grow that team to 50 people what will you need to change? Are the methods your developers use to do code reviews, catalog bugs, plan features or deploy new code still going to work at that scale?
How will you bring new people into the team and teach them these things? Every new team member should be able to master both your tech stack and your processes fairly quickly so they can begin adding value to your business.
Think about how you interface with the rest of the company:
As a tech lead or a CTO in a startup or a smaller SMEs you are probably the main point of contact for other tech agencies, partners, and suppliers – and almost certainly also the person who communicates technology issues to the rest of your business, to your marketing, sales and operations departments. You are by default the first and last point of contact for any technical issue in the company – as you grow that’s not going to work anymore.
You need to think about who you’re going to hire who can handle this communication across the company. What kind of engineers should you be hiring so that the head of marketing has someone to talk too when they need a question answered, for example? What kind of skill set is required to explain technical architecture to your product team, or explain technology constraints to the operations department?
You will need to be hiring for skills that you may have neglected as a small company; it’s not enough to hire the best quality engineer, the best designer, the best programmer. For example, you need to hire people who are good at collecting technical information and presenting it. You will also need to find people with different skills to yourself: as your company grows you won’t have the time to master every new tech feature, and you’ll have to delegate to people that complement your skills and fill the gaps in your knowledge.
00.58 Jules’s career story
01.52 Equals Group’s 13 years of growth
02.58 Scaling your people and your tech
04.44 Realigning your structure and vision for growth
06.07 The first 100 days as a CTO
08.21 Managing acquisitions as a CTO
09.58 Integrating acquisitions into your culture
11.59 Safeguarding culture against scale
15.31 Can growing too fast be bad for your business?
17.08 3 tips for CTO going through a growth phase
20.05 Further listening
20.50 Equals Group’s services and products