For businesses with big aspirations, the right senior management team is key. These executive positions, often known collectively as the ‘C suite’, are filled by the people who drive the company forward - the big decision-makers. With the right leadership, you could find yourself joining the ranks of the unicorn companies – but with the wrong ones, success will be little more than a pipedream.
To help you find the best people for the job, we’re going back to basics. From CEOs to CMOs, we examine the key executive jobs and take a look at their value and what they should do for your business.
Main Executive Roles
The CEO, CFO and COO are the three pillars of a strong, well-balanced executive team. Day to day, the details and requirements of their jobs will differ, dependent on the size of your company – smaller businesses will usually see execs getting more hands-on in the absence of more employees and managers, for example. But, regardless of headcount, their mission is the same – to push for success.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
The CEO is the Big Kahuna of the business, the person at the top of the corporate ladder. This executive position is largely future-facing, shaping the business’ strategy and defining the market proposition.
While there’s no guaranteed formula for success, research by the Columbia Business School offers a helping hand. According to the findings, general ability, execution, charisma, and strategic details are the things to look for when on the hunt for a stellar CEO.
Like Mark Zuckerberg is to Facebook, and Richard Branson to Virgin, your CEO is the embodiment of your brand. And while, right now, many of the famous figures that spring to mind are men, the percentage of women on Fortune 500 Boards has more than doubled, from 9.6% in 1995 to 22.2% in 2017.
How to get there:Traditionally, CEOs need a university degree. But it is possible for budding professionals to forge their careers through alternative means, those diving straight into hands-on experience could be the CEOs of the future.
Chief Operating Officer (COO)
The COO is in charge of the operation of the company. Taking lead from the CEO, this executive position is largely internally-facing, working to make the overarching business strategy come to fruition. From recruitment to workflow processes, their mission is to make the company run like a well-oiled machine.
While Forbes has reported ‘The Decline of the COO’, attributing it to technology and the evermore productive CEO, you need to tune into what’s best for your business – not what’s happening at Twitter HQ. With clearly-defined roles and a harmonious working partnership, the CEO and COO can prove to be an unstoppable force.
How to get there: Majoring in a business-related subject is the standard for COO roles, however a wealth of industry experience is just as important, if not more so.
Chief Financial Officer (CFO)
The CFO has ultimate responsibility for the finances of the company, helping to drive profitable growth and ensure the business remains financially stable and healthy. In business, profitability is king, which means every decision leads back to the CFO in some way.
Some of the key missions for a CFO include ensuring the financial reports meet the statutory requirements, briefing the stakeholders on trading, and budgeting for the future.
How to get there: Qualifications are integral for rising up the financial ranks. A financial related degree and formal accountancy qualifications are the standard requirements for this executive role.
Specialist Executive Roles
In larger companies, and perhaps industry niches, there are more executive seats at the table. Here are some of the specialist executive roles which could help your business grow:
Chief Information Officer (CIO)
The CIO is concerned with digital and computerised systems, and how they can improve your business. From GDPR to cyber security, this executive job – while not considered one of the core three – is becoming increasingly integral as the world switches to digital.
Chief Accounting Officer (CAO)
In larger companies or more complex financial sectors (such as insurance), the CFO might have a second in command. The CAO works on the nuts and bolts of the finances, ensuring the processes and transactions are efficient, profitable and in line with regulations. In this situation, the CFO would take more of a top-line focus.
Chief Marketing Officer (CMO)
The CMO shapes the marketing strategy of the company. From advertising campaigns to how the brand is personified, this executive position strives to communicate the values of the company and bring new customers in.
A talented team of executives is like rocket fuel for your business. Find out how Pareto can help you find the right people for the job, with our specialised executive recruitment process.
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