I just completed my first week at Google. I joined Google Cloud‘s Office of the CTO (OCTO), our two-way innovation street connecting enterprise CTOs and CIOs with the magic of Google. I’m just beginning the journey, but so far, it’s been pretty amazing.
I’ve spent the last two years at Blackstone, working in the Blackstone Innovations team, heading up Data Science (including Data Engineering and Data Visualization). As I noted previously, it was a little rocky getting set up technically. Much of this was due to my not having worked with Windows significantly for about five years before that, so there was a lot of re-learning I needed to do. Eventually, we upgraded to Windows 10 with Docker, and that helped a ton. That said, I’m glad to have a Mac again!
But what is this OCTO thing? I did a quick Google search and found a little thread on Hacker News. The questions started with:
Ask HN: What does it mean to work in the ‘Office of the CTO’?
I have been recently running into people that work in the ‘Office of the CTO’ at their respective companies. They tend to be engineers, sometimes with graduate degrees, that may be doing in research, integration, or advanced development. Is there a broader definition or guideline for understanding someone’s role when I encounter this terminology?
The responses are interesting, but not really what OCTO is going for, I think. So ignore that.
I found a similar question posted on Quora:
Just what is the ‘office of CTO’ for? Are folks working in these function units respected by engineers and developers?
I like Stan Hanks‘ answer. He seems to describe something pretty close to what I think my role will look like:
Stan Hanks, I was a CTO before the title existed
Well… when I was CTO of Enron Broadband, the guys in the “Office of the CTO” were working on things about three years away from production. Answering big questions like “how can you prove that the digital artifacting in MP4 video over IP is not severe enough for 99.9% of viewers to observe?” and “as we get to 10Gb/s aggregation feeds, what does that mean for the maximum dwell time to touch each packet, given the progression of Moore’s Law?” and “would it be possible to stand up an edge distribution system in real time in the event that we noticed a huge amount of source pull from a single point source? and how would we notice that?”
All sorts of stuff.
I would have some 20% time contributions from key engineers in various departments who I wanted to keep engaged and out on the cutting edge, but for the most point, I had big-thinkers, not big-doers, who were willing to ask really hard questions and then GO THERE looking for answers – particularly answers that were at variance with what we had in the pipeline.
Except, I’ll be helping CTOs think about the future of cloud computing, not whatever Enron Broadband was doing… But I think the “all sorts of stuff” part will be spot-on.
Oh, and I need to become googley!