Executives provide strategic leadership to achieve set objectives and goals. The top or “chief” executives oversee the performance of major departments or divisions within the organization. The executives of the departments report directly to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), who is governed by the organization’s Board of Directors and who holds the CEO accountable for generating and achieving revenue, earnings and stock performance projections. In the case of non-profit organizations, including foundations and philanthropies, performance is measured in terms of adherence to fulfilling the mission, implementation of initiatives, membership gains, grant distribution and fundraising goals.
Chief Executive Officer
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) heads, directs and approves the implementation of strategies to achieve the overarching mission and goals of the organization. The CEO reports to the Chairman and members of the Board of Directors. As the “captain” of the organization the CEOs accountabilities span every division from finance to operations, marketing to human resources. The chief executive for every department in the organization reports directly to the CEO.
Chief Operating Officer
The Chief Operating Officer (COO) is the executive viewed by many as the “CEO in waiting.” This is because the COO is responsible for ensuring that every division is working to achieve the company’s goals on a day-to-day basis. The COO assesses and looks for areas needed for improvement, especially in regards to human and financial capital, finance and production. Because of the scope of responsibilities the COO is often a bit more “hands on” and visible in day-to-day activities. In many organization charts, the position of the COO falls directly below the CEO.
Chief Financial Officer
The Chief Financial Officer (CFO) is the executive who leads the development, implementation and analysis of all financial aspects of the corporation’s operations. He is accountable for thought leadership and execution of programs and polices that are designed to achieve corporate fiscal and financial goals. He achieves this by establishing department budgets, developing internal financial controls, ongoing financial audits, analysis and reporting mechanisms so that the corporation can achieve projected annual goals for revenue and profits as described to the Board of Directors.
Chief Marketing Officer
The Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) oversees the marketing, advertising, sales and public relations divisions. Senior managers in these capacities report to the CMO. The CMO is responsible for setting marketing objectives, advertising strategies, budgets and sales goals. She is usually more visible outside of the organization that other chief executives, especially in high profile companies in the consumer products sector and in corporations that conduct major new business acquisition activities, like Procter & Gamble or Microsoft.
Chief Information Officer
The Chief Information Officer (CIO) directs and oversees the corporation’s design, use and implementation of information technology throughout the organization. He is responsible for the company’s internal network design, computer hardware and software systems, the internal flow of communications between various departments, and the safe transmission and delivery of information to external recipients so that the integrity of corporate information and documents is safeguarded.
Chief Technology Officer
The Chief Technology Officer (CTO) is a recent position in corporate executive structures as a result of the growth and reliance on technology. Many companies in the technology industry distinguish the CTO roles and responsibilities from that of the CIO, in others, the duties are performed by the CIO. The main difference is that the CTO is usually more focused on developing innovations in the use and application of technology in areas like product development and engineering, versus managing the primary day-to-day use of technology for communications. Organizations that have CTO positions are usually innovation and technology-driven, like AT&T, Intel, Adobe and Apple.
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