Andrew Weaver, CEO, and co-founder of CTO Academy tells us about online career and leadership coaching programs.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Andrew Weaver: Doing OK in the circumstances.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded CTO Academy.
Andrew Weaver: After twenty years in business, ten years in tech startups, my co-founder is a techie, and after we both exited separate businesses, he came to me with an idea about creating online leadership training and coaching for technology leaders. I wasn’t totally sure about the opportunity, but after a successful pilot in early 2019 (where we attracted customers from around the world), I realized the service was both necessary and global. So we properly launched in September 2019 since when we’ve helped customers in 60 countries.
How does CTO Academy innovate?
Andrew Weaver: We look for clear outcomes in our eLearning programs. We have a bespoke skills assessment for tech leaders, and we measure their progress, whether doing only courses or a combination, of course, private coaching and group coaching. Everything is focused on improving their skill set, confidence, and career opportunities, and progress is measured throughout.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Andrew Weaver: We launched as a remote-first company. However, that was on the basis of regular physical meetings, which hasn’t happened, so at the moment, we are remote only, like everyone else. Because we’re growing rapidly, it means most of the team haven’t physically met each other, and I think you lose something in there, so we try to compensate within the standard online tools. Otherwise, we haven’t been massively affected. eLearning and ed-tech markets are buoyant though we do pick up that some corporates have cut back or suspended their training costs, so we often have individuals stalling on their longer-term coaching and development plans.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Andrew Weaver: Not really. Our strategy and operations have been relatively unaffected.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Andrew Weaver: Slack, hangouts, and Trello are the key communication tools we use. We also have a Friday drop-in where senior management makes themselves available each week for any questions and to ensure there is a constant flow of communication between team members, not only to keep them informed but also to avoid silos emerging within our small startup and make people feel less isolated.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Andrew Weaver: We have a range of competitors – from leading academic institutions like Berkeley to coaching-only platforms like Plato HQ. We are still growing, learning, making mistakes, fine-tuning what we do. We have a unique model in itself and across the globe with our customer base, so our focus is about constant iteration, validation, and building the product our customers need to accelerate their careers in technology.