Since Obama announced he’s selecting the nation’s first CTO, the blogosphere and news sources in general have been buzzing about who would be most qualified or who’s most likely to be picked for the position. Names like Google’s Chief Executive Eric Schmidt or Microsoft’s Chairman Bill Gates have been tossed around, and while I think both would be really excellent candidates I have my own opinion of who’d make a really good CTO for the nation. First, here are the qualifications I think will be important for this candidate:
Extremely visionary and opinionated
I believe the ideal candidate would have strong opinions relating to the issues they’re dealing with. This is especially important because of all the lobbying and pressure that they may come under when dealing with public issues, so they need to be able to have a strong opinion on the matter to carry it forward. A wishy-washy personality will not survive in this type of environment and would constantly change course on initiatives they attempt to drive.
Track record in turning around struggling companies and initiatives
Although the government initially sponsored many of the technologies that we now use on a daily basis, a lot of the work and research being performed by academic or government related facilities is being overlooked or not finding a proper commercial outlet. Someone with a good track record of finding the gems and cutting off the projects that are not in line with their vision would be able to get more public interest in government sponsored initiatives and find viable commercial applications for them.
Diverse experience in multiple areas of technology
Whether it’s networking, security, hardware or maybe one of the latest tech buzzwords like virtualization or cloud computing, the nation’s CTO would need to be knowledgeable with a diverse range of technologies and have an ability to judge the effectiveness of certain projects and their viability, as well as what companies or organizations are best to partner with for driving them forward.
So who do I think would make an excellent candidate given these points? My vote goes to Apple CEO Steve Jobs. Not only has he been able to take a struggling company and within a few years turn it into one of the most profitable tech companies, he was able to find the important initiatives within the company and drive those forward, beating all other companies in an already saturated market and continually providing the innovation to remain in the lead.
What do you think? Who would make a really good CTO for the nation?
BTW, with Obama now turning to YouTube and other online locations for the weekly presidential fireside chats, he’s definitely got a lot of technical savvy himself. I think I’ve also seen pics of him using a Mac, if I’m not mistaken :).