The C suite and accompanying C level positions have long been the goals of many an aspiring business person. But with many companies expanding their C level job titles, it’s hard to know which positions actually wield real power these days. While some of these new C suite roles reflect the role and are valuable additions to the organization, these include Chief Intellectual Property Officer (CIPO), Chief Experience Officer (CXO), and Chief Knowledge Officer (CKO). Roles with terms like “ninja” or “guru” are harder to take seriously. You can explore some of the newer C level positions here.
But there is a core group of C level executive roles that have always commanded respect and held power within an organization. While you may be familiar with these acronyms, we’ll fully explore the more common C level positions and their functions below.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
The CEO is the highest ranking person in the company and thus is responsible for the overall success of the business. The specific day-to-day duties of the CEO vary from company to company, the CEO of McDonald’s has a very different day than the CEO of Apple, but generally speaking, they oversee the executive team and help develop the company’s public image. As the top of the food chain, the buck stops with the CEO. On the one hand, it may feel great to have that kind of power, but remember, with great power comes great responsibility. You’ll get credit for the success, but you’ll also carry the weight of any failures. CEO’s aren’t allowed to act with complete autonomy either, they’re usually beholden to the chairman of the board. Chief Executive Officers are the liaison between the board members and the rest of the C level executive team, as such the CEO needs to be excellent at people management, have stellar financial acumen, and communicate well.1
Chief Financial Officer (CFO)
The CFO is in charge of the company’s financial matters. They control, report, and strategize, overseeing the structure of the capital in their organization and checking in with the rest of the C suite to make sure that their decisions are financially sound. Financial forecasting is a large part of this C level position, as CFOs need to make calculated risks that could pay off in a big way for their company. Over the years, this role has evolved from keeping track of the company funds, to growing the company funds.2
Chief Information Officer (CIO)
The CIO focuses on leadership, strategy, and implementation of technology. They’re in charge of how technology and computer systems support and further progress their company’s goals. Before the era of the internet, this C level position was tasked with managing the mainframe computer.1 Now, CIOs are in charge of all digital strategies and systems within the organization, as securing their company’s data in the cloud. A CIO is also tasked with predicting future technology trends so that the business can stay ahead of the curve and the competition.1
Chief Operating Officer (COO)
The COO does just what their title says, they oversee the business operations of the company. However, the functions of this role can vary widely depending on the size of the company and the industry in which that company lies. Usually, the COO is second in the chain of command and ensures that the strategies laid out by the CEO are properly implemented. Their day-to-day can include anything from data analysis and customer segmentation to gauging the effectiveness of production and communication strategies. If you’re working in a start-up, the COO is likely to be an integral part of your organization’s success.2
Chief Marketing Officer (CMO)
If you build it, they will come. But only if you have strategic marketing. Very rarely is a product so good that it can speak for itself, and that’s where the CMO comes in. They steer the business’s brand management, marketing research, and look into ways to influence customers’ buying habits. As society and the way we communicate has evolved, so has marketing. While traditional methods such as print and out of home ads are still effective, the new generation of CMOs looks to the internet as a key path to product placement and consumer influencing. This C level executive role has become much more than just an advertising and marketing job, these individuals must constantly innovate and think outside the box, which is why some CMOs have changed their title to Chief Innovation Officer (CIO).
Everything is changing, but some things never do.
As companies expand their C level positions in a bid to seem edgy or retain top talent, the ability to move upward has never seemed greater. Some of the “original” C level job titles may be changing to better encompass how the role has evolved over the years, there are some things that hold true. No matter which C level jobs have piqued your interest, you’ll need excellent communication skills and business acumen to reach the top. You’ll need to be able to look ahead and predict trends before they take hold in society. And you’ll need to be able to do all of this in an ethical and responsible manner.
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1. Retrieved on June 5, 2019, from businessnewsdaily.com/11104-c-suite-executive-titles-explained.html
2. Retrieved on June 5, 2019, from collectivehub.com/2017/04/we-breakdown-the-c-suite-of-job-titles/