Spotlight Q&A with Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer, carwow, David Santoro

David Santoro, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer, carwow, and long-time coding fan, has developer and engineering experience across many organisations, including Barclays, ITV and Confetti Network Ltd. At our CTO Craft Conference, he’ll be part of the panel discussion: Moving Beyond Agile? Modern Methodologies for Technology Development.

Hi David, welcome to the CTO Craft Spotlight Q & A. You’re a day 2-panel speaker at the CTO Craft Con and the Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer, carwow. Can you give us a teaser about what you might share with our audience at the conference.

I’ll share how we evolved from pure eXtreme Programming to a combination of XP/Kanban and what other practices we’ve added here at carwow.

The conference theme is The Strategic CTO. What methods do you use to ensure that your team’s strategy is aligned with your company’s mission and values?

We make sure not to treat Engineering as a “team” but more like a shared skillset. Teams here at Carwow are cross-functional and aligned to company objectives via their own OKRs.

What approaches do you use to create a long-term roadmap for your team’s projects?

We don’t tend to use long terms roadmaps, but we have a prioritized list of options

As a leader, what approaches do you use to create a culture of experimentation and innovation within your team?

First of all, our company’s values encourage curiosity, making mistakes, using data, and being collaborative. I believe that hiring people with these characteristics really encourages experimentation and innovation.

Changing the subject completely, call you tell us an interesting fact that we don’t know about you.

I’ve been coding since I was 13 years old, and I still find the time to pair with members of our team. I think it’s crucial to regularly go through the process used by our engineers in order to understand if our architecture and tools are still adequate. 

What methods do you use to evaluate the impact and effectiveness of your team’s strategy?

I don’t have clear ideas on this. This year for the first time, I’ve managed to write a clear engineering strategy for the year that contains some measurable objectives. I’ll let you know next year how it went.

How do you prioritise and balance competing business objectives and stakeholder needs?

It’s a huge topic! But in general, my strategy is to encourage these stakeholders to agree between themselves what needs to be prioritized. The role of engineering in prioritization is to provide rough ideas on cost and alternatives to get to value faster and support the decision-making process.

Can you share an experience in which you had to make a strategic decision that went against conventional wisdom and what you learned from that experience?

We follow a couple of technology practices that are based on the experience I gained when I was consulting at Thoughtworks, but they are quite controversial… or at least they were quite controversial a few years ago.
1) Quality assurance is not a separate job; it’s part of the engineer’s job

2) We don’t have a separate staging environment, we deploy to product many times every day, and we make extensive use of feature toggles

Finally, can you recommend a book or a podcast that every technology leader should read or listen to either in the space of strategy, development or leadership in general?

I recommend The Art of Leadership, Small things, done well by Michael Lopp, which discusses how principled consistency is most important for leadership. Over and over, the small things that are done well help to build respect and trust within a team.


If you or your CTO / technology lead would benefit from any of the services offered by the CTO Craft community, use the Contact Us button at the top or email us here and we’ll be in touch!

Subscribe to Tech Manager Weekly for a free weekly dose of tech culture, hiring, development, process and more.