My company won't employ a CTO

Hello all,

I have to balance my responsibilities as the company’s PM and the CTO while making important infrastructure decisions that will have a significant influence on the business.

Working with the UX designer, overseeing the front end and back-end dev team/running scrums, planning features, managing the CS team, occasionally taking calls from customers, responding to support tickets, etc., as well as providing guidance on the company’s focus, strategy, hiring, and trying to persuade them to raise money for more resourcing…

I spend the most of my day in productboard, gitlab, figma, freshdesk, and scratchtask.

Since I’ve been running my own companies for the past ten or so years, I had to do almost everything myself (because I’ve never had the money to hire others).

In addition to overseeing the development pipeline for the upcoming two releases while redesigning the database for half the day as we migrate to AWS, management keeps requesting me to perform “product manager jobs” like frequent customer calls.

I have no job description and frequently hear the statement “This task is part of the product manager role,” despite the fact that I can handle just fine with the salary I receive and the lack of equity.

Am I a fool for doing this, or should I just carry on with my duties as a PM as this is a regular practice? Since I’ve been running my own companies for the past ten or so years, I had to do almost everything myself (because I’ve never had the money to hire others).


In my opinion, you should think about leaving if your mental health is very important to you (depending, of course, on how “okay” the pay is).

I’m mostly concentrating on what I consider to be actual PM tasks. Leadership dismisses busy work or job that they don’t want to complete in my way by saying that it is a component of what PMs “should do.” The founders, who aren’t particularly tech-savvy, continually requesting me to speak for them in engineering meetings and, when the engineering team pushes back, to “stop defending the engineering team.” Yikes. On top of that, they claim they are trying to make the product “feature-rich” before we can identify any consumer requirement from our studies, and they overburden our roadmap with product bloat. I’ve only been here for 4 months and am already considering moving on to a more established organization with duties that are a little more clearly defined.

Is it a part of the startup process? Absolutely yes, but part of it is culture, which won’t change even when a company expands or has more resources.


Wow. It was a very appalling display of poor leadership to place you in this precarious predicament.

Here, I’ll add one more perspective. Let something go wrong, ideally anything technical. Given how busy you are, I doubt they could even want to fire you. And if this fails, management will learn that they need to reorganise using engineering resources.

I don’t mean to sound pessimistic, but I believe that given enough time, something will fail. I would want that failure if you plan to stick around to be something you can control or be aware of now rather than later.


It sounds awful without equity. Carry on.

Speak with the founders if you believe they are amazing, and you can earn a sizable amount of equity from them.


What you do is begin writing stories about the challenges you faced and how you overcame them for interviews. Cash them out somewhere else whenever the stories become less engrossing.


Just read this post. The situation is abnormal.

You might be wearing a number of hats right now (either voluntarily or involuntarily), but I’m willing to bet you’re not doing any of them very well.

If YOU don’t decide what’s best for YOU, someone else will, according to the golden rule. Take charge.


It sounds like you have a lot on your plate and are taking on a wide range of responsibilities as both the PM and CTO of your company. It’s commendable that you are able to handle all of these tasks, but it’s important to ensure that you are not overextending yourself and compromising your ability to perform your job effectively.

While it’s not uncommon for individuals in leadership positions to take on multiple roles and responsibilities, it’s essential to have a clear understanding of your job description and the expectations set by your employer. If you feel that you are being asked to perform tasks outside of your role as a PM and CTO, it’s important to have a conversation with your manager or HR representative to clarify your job responsibilities and ensure that they align with your current workload.

It’s also important to consider the long-term impact of taking on too many responsibilities. While you may be able to handle the workload now, it’s possible that it may become unsustainable in the future, leading to burnout and reduced productivity. It’s essential to prioritize your tasks and delegate responsibilities where possible to ensure that you are able to focus on your core job functions and maintain a healthy work-life balance.

In conclusion, it’s not necessarily foolish to take on multiple responsibilities as a PM and CTO, but it’s important to ensure that you are not compromising your ability to perform your job effectively or risking burnout. Make sure to have clear job expectations and responsibilities, prioritize tasks, and delegate responsibilities where possible to maintain a healthy work-life balance.


Since you can actually carry out all of those actions, the answer is obviously no. Are they abusing your trust: yes, what can you do (in my opinion):

Look for a new position and make the most of your current experience to try to advance to a senior PM position.

A permanent promotion to senior or director of product should also be requested, along with increased money and equity at the very least.

Create a CTO office with some of the other high-level individuals (CEO, VP of engineering, or main engineer), set up meetings at least every other day, and then let everyone sort it out.

I do feel that you should first determine whether you concur with the organization’s mission. If you do, just be careful not to be taken advantage of, receive more money and maybe some equity, or get job quickly off your plate. Furthermore, if they claim that giving out more equity will impair their ability to secure funding, that claim is nonsense. Simply look for another job and try to gain some promotion if you don’t believe in the mission. Even though it’s harder to locate jobs for PMs than for engineers, there are still plenty of recruiters out there because a good PM is extremely valuable to almost any organization.


I recently gave notice of my resignation with two months’ notice in order to distribute the absurdly heavy workload among six or so people since I was in the same situation. As I developed our new global scale platform, I found that I had positioned myself as the PM organization’s focal point.

My ability to comprehend both business and technical requirements caused practically everything to start flowing through me. I just wasn’t seeing the end of the tunnel with an excessively needy engineering staff that is headquartered in a foreign region and requires the tiniest things (API patterns and answers).

The fact that I had no influence over the hiring procedure made a difference for me because it led to resources that required support on both the engineering and PM sides. Recently, I’ve run into conflict with several stakeholders that are very much stuck in their silos and would like to merely dump resources at issues rather than work on features.

Personally, I’d leave as soon as possible because I’ve shown myself that I can manage my own business and that a poisonous workplace with little teamwork is not for me. I sincerely hope you can overcome this, but for me it became clear that despite being the hub of the wheel, I was treated like a gear and not given any power.


Do you think this is part of the startup culture?


@MelissaJames, in my opinion, it has nothing to do with startup culture; rather, based on my own experience, it occurs when financial/business-oriented leadership, as opposed to technical leadership, is in charge of the company. You set yourself up for failure when leaders lack perspective on what it takes to succeed and have a focus on “let’s make money” rather than the best method to handle the problem.

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It’s understandable that as an entrepreneur, you have had to take on multiple roles and responsibilities in the past due to limited resources. However, as you transition into a larger company and take on the roles of PM and CTO, it’s important to delegate responsibilities and build a team that can support you in your job functions.

One of the benefits of having a team is that it allows you to focus on your core competencies and delegate tasks to others who may be better suited to handle them. By delegating responsibilities and building a team, you can free up your time to focus on strategic initiatives and high-level decision-making that can help drive the company forward.

Delegating responsibilities also has the added benefit of empowering your team members and helping them grow and develop in their roles. It can also foster a culture of collaboration and teamwork, which can help improve productivity and morale in the workplace.

To sum it up, while it’s understandable that you may have had to take on multiple roles in the past, as a PM and CTO, it’s important to delegate responsibilities and build a team that can support you in your job functions. By doing so, you can focus on your core competencies and strategic initiatives that can help drive the company forward, while also fostering a culture of collaboration and teamwork.

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