There are a number of different types of executive management jobs, usually enough to correspond with all of the tasks, duties, and obligations of running a company. Most companies are led by a Chief Executive Officer (CEO), who may also serve as the president of the business. This person usually has ultimate responsibility and sway when it comes both to decision-making and responsibility. Just under this person is typically a vice president or, depending on the structure, a team of vice presidents; these people are typically in charge of leading specific divisions and offering support to the CEO. Also of great importance are the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and, in many settings, the Chief Investment Officer (CIO), both of whom deal with accounting and financial matters. In public companies the Chairman of the Board usually also holds an executive position. Depending on the size of the business and its scope, certain individuals may play more than one role, and not all positions are in every company, either.
Understanding Executive Management Generally
Employees who work in executive management serve as the leaders and decision makers of a company. Within the corporate hierarchy, executive management jobs are at the top. Their respective responsibilities can be grouped according to a number of defined roles, offices, and job descriptions.
Together, executive managers typically function as the decision-making core of a company. Those people are usually the highest-earning employees and also bear the most responsibility for the company's success or failure. Executive management jobs are often performance-driven, and as a result the base salaries are supplemented by a variable bonus that hinges on the employee’s contributions to the company's success.
Chief Executive Officer
The head of a company is the CEO. The CEO ranks higher than all other executive management jobs, including the president, and has the most responsibility. He or she has the final say in any decision and is ultimately responsible for effecting overall strategy and making decisions on resources, marketing, and expansion. In addition, the CEO typically also serves as the primary spokesman for the company, especially in matters pertaining to the board of directors, trustees, and shareholders.
The president of a company is often, but doesn't have to be, the CEO. The president's responsibilities are more day-to-day and tactical than those of the CEO. While the president is tasked with overseeing daily operations and more systematic decisions, the CEO is often seen on a more strategic, visionary basis. It should be noted that there is only one president of the overall company, but a company that has multiple divisions will likely have corresponding presidents that preside over each division.
Similar to the president, the vice president is also responsible for day-to-day, tactical decisions. A vice president's duties, however, are usually more collaborative and slightly less definitive in terms of overall authority. Companies that are very large often have vice presidents for each major division; one could be in sales while another is in operations, for instance. Sometimes there are also executive vice presidents, which typically have even more power and oversight, and do more in the way of corresponding with the larger executive team.
The role of the chief financial officer (CFO) is to oversee the company's financial health. This includes establishing, reviewing, and signing off on the validity of the company's balance sheets, which are reviewed by investors and regulatory agencies. As more scrutiny is focused on executive compensation, financial health, and full financial disclosure, the responsibility of the CFO is often very important.
Responsible for managing the company's overall investments, the chief investment officer (CIO) helps devise and employ short and long-term investment strategies. This may include overseeing equity and bond divisions, overseas and emerging markets, and other sectors within the financial realm. The CIO may also serve in other capacities within the company.
Chairman of the Board
Finally, there is the chairman of the board. The laws of most countries require any public company to have a board of directors. The role of the board is to serve as the fiduciary for the investors and to promote shareholder interest, such as monitoring executive compensation, dividend amounts and distribution, and other related activities. The chairman of the board is typically elected to the position and serves as the principal medium between the shareholders and the executives.