CEO, PRESIDENT & C-LEVEL
The number of C-suite titles has been growing exponentially. Here’s a list for you to stay on top of the most important Chief Officer positions with descriptions.
The most important executive titles:
- CEO – Chief Executive Officer: This is the highest ranking manager in the company, the face of the company in charge of all the strategic decisions. They usually work closely with the other C-level managers and report to the board of directors (run by a Chairperson). In some companies, the CEO and the Chairperson are actually the same person.
- COO – Chief Operating Officer: As the title suggests, the COO is in charge of operative business with a focus on Human Resources. In smaller companies, the CEO takes on the role of the COO and is also in charge of operations.
- CFO – Chief Financial Officer: The CFO is in charge of all the finance departments. This includes financial planning, accounting, financial reporting and controlling. The CFO is responsible for all the financial decisions of a company.
- CIO – Chief Information Officer: The CIO is responsible for a company’s IT strategy as well as IT operations. This includes IT planning, IT processes and IT infrastructure. Ultimately, the CIO enhances a company’s efficiency and productivity by providing the best IT infrastructure and processes.
- CTO – Chief Technology Officer: A CTO is different from a CIO in that a CTO is in charge of optimizing product-related technology rather than internal IT infrastructure and processes. The CTO and their team improve or innovate products that serve the customers.
- CDO – Chief Digital Officer: A CDO is responsible for digitally transforming traditional business models or elements into digital ones. They analyze new markets, channels, and models to scale up the business through digitalization.
CEO vs. President
Apart from all the C-titles, some companies also have a President and a Vice President, especially in the USA. There is no 100% clear system, but these guidelines will help you understand the difference between a CEO and a President:
- Most companies under 100 employees have either a CEO or President, not both.
- If a company has a CEO and a President, the CEO is the highest-ranking, while the President is second.
- Some large companies with multiple business units have a CEO running the entire organization and one President for each business unit.
Other common C-Suite positions:
- CCO – Chief Compliance Officer
- CSO – Chief Security Officer
- CMO – Chief Marketing Officer
- CDO – Chief Data Officer
- CCO – Chief Content Officer
- CHRO – Chief Human Resource Officer
- There are more than 50 Chief Officer titles.
- The British system often uses the title Managing Director, which is equivalent to a CEO.
- In the US, a Managing Director is only a mid-management position.
C-level, V-level, D-level, B-level
Apart from the C-level management, we also have letters for the other levels of management:
- V-level management: Vice President (VP) and Senior Vice Presidents (SVPs) reporting to C-level management.
- D-level management: Directors in various departments (e.g., Director of Sales) reporting to V-level management.
- B-level management: Mid-level managers (e.g., Sales Manager) reporting to D-level management.
From hierarchies to roles
As many companies move from traditional hierarchies to New Work models with roles, we will see how the C-Suite system holds up.
ALEXANDRA GINA EDWARDS
I’m an American Business Communication trainer, English coach, translator and copywriter based near Innsbruck, Austria. I love working with business executives and their teams on their communication challenges. My goal is to help you and your business thrive by becoming powerful and convincing in English.