Newsletter #63 : Lockdown Continues!

February 15, 2021

Friday again …

Another week and hopefully another dollar.

If you’re feeling under particular strain at the moment then don’t forget that CTO Academy are offering free crisis mentoring sessions. Book yourself a session if you’d like some guidance or just a sense check about what’s going on around you. 

We received some great feedback after last weeks Lockdown Learning interview with Marcin Floryan from Spotify. So we’re going to host at least two interviews a week with tech leaders from around the world.

This week we talked with the Head of Technology at Barclays International and the Group CTO for GfK (Growth for Knowledge) here in the UK.

More next week.

Until then, stay safe and enjoy the weekend.

Andrew Weaver

Continuing Our Series Of Interviews
Global Tech Leaders On Lockdown


Colin is the former CTO of Yahoo Europe, AOL (UK) and Managing Director for Sky Group TV and Digital Platforms.

Currently the Head of Technology at Barclays International, he joined us from Beverley in the United Kingdom to tell us his thoughts on tech leadership in the time of Coronavirus …

“to be an effective leader you have to have genuine empathy for people”

“the ability to build teams is critical. the cult of personality that builds around some people can become quite destructive”

“challenge after lockdown will be how to get your momentum and productivity back and the pastoral care of your team”

Watch the interview with Colin here.


Ben is currently the Group CTO of GfK (Growth from Knowledge) having previously been Group CTO at Euromoney.

Calling in from Winchester in Southern England he tells us thoughts on Lockdown, his belief in the opportunities ahead and his joy about having no commute.

“the role of a CTO is sometimes that of a chameleon, you have to change your style and language to suit the audience”

“build an environment that is not hierarchical, there is freedom to be challenged and surround yourself with multi faceted views”

“not everyone on the board comes from a digital background so it’s important we speak the language of everyone else and champion technology at that level”

Watch the interview with Ben here.


5 Changes To Expect In The Workplace

Here in Madrid we’re slowly emerging into what is now being called the “new normality”. 

But in truth no-one really knows what that will look like or how long it will last.

Article in Fast Company this week looked into some of the potential workplace changes ahead …

“The COVID-19 crisis has created the ultimate “burning platform”—an unexpected, overnight opportunity for people to see the impact of swift and meaningful change, and to witness the negative consequences of trying to ignore this aberration from everyday life. Within organisations, the virus has been driving significant change in how their employees operate with each other, as well as with clients, customers, and vendors. Now that companies are shifting past their immediate response to the crisis, we’ve entered into a temporary “new normal.”


Hiring Programmers with a Take Home Test

We liked an article this week in the Signal vs Noise tech blog, from David Heinemeier Hansson about hiring programmers.

Hiring well is a challenge for all of us so we recommend this article which concludes with …

“Hiring is hard. Applying is hard. Doing either with programmers without looking at actual code they wrote often risks leading down a path of bias (or, as we call it today, “fit”), credentialism, whiteboard puzzles, and brainteasers. We’ll stick with the hard work”

Hiring Programmers With A Take Home Test


Book of the Week 1 :Measure What Matters

Chosen by Ben Jones from GfK.

Venture capitalist John Doerr reveals how the goal-setting system of Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) has helped tech giants from Intel to Google achieve explosive growth—and how it can help any organization thrive.

Measure What Matters.


Book of the Week 2 : Hell In A Very Small Place

Chosen by Colin McQuade who describes it as “a study of how great strategies and minds can become badly unstuck with a reality on the ground”

Described by one reviewer;

“Simply one of the best military history books I have ever read; the story of a French example of lions being led by donkeys.

Fall takes us into the context of the battle, explaining the flawed reasoning behind creating the Base Aero Terrestrial in the first place, then describing each stage of the unfolding tragedy of Operation Castor, from initial optimism to doubt to heroic defiance and final acceptance of defeat”

Hell In A Very Small Place

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