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Corporate titles or business titles are given to company and organization officials to show what duties and responsibilities they have in the organization. Such titles are used by publicly and privately held for-profit corporations. In addition, many non-profit organizations, educational institutions, partnerships, and sole proprietorships also confer corporate titles.
There are considerable variations in the composition and responsibilities of corporate titles.
Within the corporate office or corporate center of a company, some companies have a chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) as the top-ranking executive, while the number two is the president and chief operating officer (COO); other companies have a president and CEO but no official deputy. Typically, senior managers are "higher" than vice presidents, although many times a senior officer may also hold a vice president title, such as executive vice president and chief financial officer (CFO). The board of directors is technically not part of management itself, although its chairman may be considered part of the corporate office if he or she is an executive chairman.
A corporation often consists of different businesses, whose senior executives report directly to the CEO or COO, but depends on the form of the business. If organized as a division then the top manager is often known as an executive vice president (EVP). If that business is a subsidiary which has considerably more independence, then the title might be chairman and CEO.
In many countries, particularly in Europe and Asia, there is a separate executive board for day-to-day business and supervisory board (elected by shareholders) for control purposes. In these countries, the CEO presides over the executive board and the chairman presides over the supervisory board, and these two roles will always be held by different people. This ensures a distinction between management by the executive board and governance by the supervisory board. This seemingly allows for clear lines of authority. There is a strong parallel here with the structure of government, which tends to separate the political cabinet from the management civil service.
In the United States and other countries that follow a single-board corporate structure, the board of directors (elected by the shareholders) is often equivalent to the European or Asian supervisory board, while the functions of the executive board may be vested either in the board of directors or in a separate committee, which may be called an operating committee (J.P. Morgan Chase), management committee (Goldman Sachs), executive committee (Lehman Brothers), or executive council (Hewlett-Packard), or executive board (HeiG) composed of the division/subsidiary heads and senior officers that report directly to the CEO.
State laws in the United States traditionally required certain positions to be created within every corporation, such as president, secretary and treasurer. Today, the approach under the Model Business Corporation Act, which is employed in many states, is to grant companies discretion in determining which titles to have, with the only mandated organ being the board of directors.
Some states that do not employ the MBCA continue to require that certain offices be established. Under the law of Delaware, where most large US corporations are established, stock certificates must be signed by two officers with titles specified by law (e.g. a president and secretary or a president and treasurer). Every corporation incorporated in California must have a chairman of the board or a president (or both), as well as a secretary and a chief financial officer.
Limited liability company (LLC)-structured companies are generally run directly by their members, but the members can agree to appoint officers such as a CEO or to appoint "managers" to operate the company.
American companies are generally led by a CEO. In some companies, the CEO also has the title of "president". In other companies, a president is a different person, and the primary duties of the two positions are defined in the company's bylaws (or the laws of the governing legal jurisdiction). Many companies also have a CFO, a chief operating officer (COO) and other senior positions such as General Counsel (CLO), chief strategy officer (CSO), chief marketing officer (CMO), etc. that report to the president and CEO as "senior vice presidents" of the company. The next level, which are not executive positions, is middle management and may be called "vice presidents", "directors" or "managers", depending on the size and required managerial depth of the company.
In British English, the title of managing director is generally synonymous with that of chief executive officer. Managing directors do not have any particular authority under the Companies Act in the UK, but do have implied authority based on the general understanding of what their position entails, as well as any authority expressly delegated by the board of directors.
Japan and South Korea
In Japan, corporate titles are roughly standardized across companies and organizations; although there is variation from company to company, corporate titles within a company are always consistent, and the large companies in Japan generally follow the same outline. These titles are the formal titles that are used on business cards. Korean corporate titles are similar to those of Japan.
Legally, Japanese and Korean companies are only required to have a board of directors with at least one representative director. In Japanese, a company director is called a torishimariyaku (取締役) and a representative director is called a daihyō torishimariyaku (代表取締役). The equivalent Korean titles are isa (이사, 理事) and daepyo-isa (대표이사, 代表理事). These titles are often combined with lower titles, e.g. senmu torishimariyaku or jōmu torishimariyaku for Japanese executives who are also board members. Most Japanese companies also have statutory auditors, who operate alongside the board of directors in supervisory roles.
|English gloss||Kanji (hanja)||Japanese||Korean||Comments|
|Often a semi-retired president or company founder. Denotes a position with considerable power within the company exercised through behind-the-scenes influence via the active president.|
|At Korean family-owned chaebol companies such as Samsung, the vice-chairman commonly holds the CEO title (i.e., vice chairman and CEO)|
|Often CEO of the corporation. Some companies do not have the "chairman" position, in which case the "president" is the top position that is equally respected and authoritative.|
or Senior executive vice president
|Reports to the president|
|Executive vice president
|Senior vice president
or general manager
or department head
|Highest non-executive title; denotes a head of a division or department. There is significant variation in the official English translation used by different companies.|
|Deputy general manager||次長||Jichō||Chajang
|Direct subordinate to buchō/bujang|
or section head
|Denotes a head of a team or section underneath a larger division/department|
or team leader
|Staff without managerial titles are often referred to without using a title at all|
The top management group, comprising jomu/sangmu and above, is often referred to collectively as "senior management" (幹部 or 重役; kambu or juyaku in Japanese; ganbu or jungyŏk in Korean).
Some Japanese and Korean companies have also adopted American-style titles, but these are not yet widespread and their usage varies. For example, although there is a Korean translation for chief operating officer (최고운영책임자, choego unyŏng chaegimja), not many companies have yet adopted it with an exception of a few multi-national companies such as Samsung and CJ (a spin-off from Samsung), while the CFO title is often used alongside other titles such as bu-sajang (SEVP) or Jŏnmu (EVP).
Since the late 1990s, many Japanese companies have introduced the title of shikkō yakuin (執行役員) or "officer", seeking to emulate the separation of directors and officers found in American companies. In 2002, the statutory title of shikkō yaku (執行役) was introduced for use in companies that introduced a three-committee structure in their board of directors. The titles are frequently given to buchō and higher-level personnel. Although the two titles are very similar in intent and usage, there are several legal distinctions: shikkō yaku make their own decisions in the course of performing work delegated to them by the board of directors, and are considered managers of the company rather than employees, with a legal status similar to that of directors. Shikkō yakuin are considered employees of the company that follow the decisions of the board of directors, although in some cases directors may have the shikkō yakuin title as well.
The highest-level executives in senior management usually have titles beginning with "chief" and ending with "officer", forming what is often called the "C-suite" or "CxO", where "x" is a variable that could be any functional area (not to be confused with CXO). The traditional three such officers are CEO, COO, and CFO. Depending on the management structure, titles may exist instead of, or be blended/overlapped with, other traditional executive titles, such as president, various designations of vice presidents (e.g. VP of marketing), and general managers or directors of various divisions (such as director of marketing); the latter may or may not imply membership of the board of directors.
Certain other prominent positions have emerged, some of which are sector-specific. For example, chief audit executive (CAE), chief procurement officer (CPO) and chief risk officer (CRO) positions are often found in many types of financial services companies. Technology companies of all sorts now tend to have a chief technology officer (CTO) to manage technology development. A CIO oversees information technology (IT) matters, either in companies that specialize in IT or in any kind of company that relies on it for supporting infrastructure.
Many companies now also have a chief marketing officer (CMO), particularly mature companies in competitive sectors, where brand management is a high priority. A chief value officer (CVO) is introduced in companies where business processes and organizational entities are focused on the creation and maximization of value. Approximately 50% of the S&P 500 companies have created a chief strategy officer (CSO) in their top management team to lead strategic planning and manage inorganic growth, which provides a long range perspective versus the tactical view of the COO or CFO. A chief administrative officer may be found in many large complex organizations that have various departments or divisions. Additionally, many companies now call their top diversity leadership position the chief diversity officer (CDO). However, this and many other nontraditional and lower-ranking titles are not universally recognized as corporate officers, and they tend to be specific to particular organizational cultures or the preferences of employees.
Specific corporate officer positions
Chairman of the board – presiding officer of the corporate board of directors. The chairman influences the board of directors, which in turn elects and removes the officers of a corporation and oversees the human, financial, environmental and technical operations of a corporation.
- The CEO may also hold the title of "chairman", resulting in an executive chairman. In this case, the board frequently names an independent member of the board as a lead director.
- Executive chairman – the chairman's post may also exist as an office separate from that of CEO, and it is considered an executive chairman if that titleholder wields influence over company operations, such as Steve Case of AOL Time Warner and Douglas Flint of HSBC. In particular, the group chairmanship of HSBC is considered the top position of that institution, outranking the chief executive, and is responsible for leading the board and representing the company in meetings with government figures. Prior to the creation of the group management board in 2006, HSBC's chairman essentially held the duties of a chief executive at an equivalent institution, while HSBC's chief executive served as the deputy. After the 2006 reorganization, the management cadre ran the business, while the chairman oversaw the controls of the business through compliance and audit and the direction of the business.
- Non-executive chairman – also a separate post from the CEO, unlike an executive chairman, a non-executive chairman does not interfere in day-to-day company matters. Across the world, many companies have separated the roles of chairman and CEO, often resulting in a non-executive chairman, saying that this move improves corporate governance.
- Chief business officer is a corporate senior executive who assumes full management responsibility for the company's deal making, provides leadership and executes a deal strategy that will allow the company to fulfill its scientific/technology mission and build shareholder value, provides managerial guidance to the company's product development staff as needed.
- Chief of staff is a corporate director level manager who has overall responsibility for the staff activity within the company who often would have responsibility of hiring and firing of the highest level managers and sometimes directors. They can work with and report directly to managing directors and the chief executive officer.
- Financial control officer, FCO or FC, also comptroller or controller – supervises accounting and financial reporting within an organization
- Director or member of a board of directors – high-level official with a fiduciary responsibility of overseeing the operation of a corporation and elects or removes officers of a corporation; nominally, directors, other than the chairman are usually not considered to be employees of the company per se, although they may receive compensation, often including benefits; in publicly held companies. A board of directors is normally made up of members (directors) who are a mixture of corporate officials who are also management employees of the company (inside directors) and persons who are not employed by the company in any capacity (outside directors or non-executive directors). In privately held companies, the board of directors often only consists of the statutory corporate officials, and in sole proprietorship and partnerships, the board is entirely optional, and if it does exist, only operates in an advisory capacity to the owner or partners. Non-profit corporations’ governing board members may be called directors like most for-profit corporations, or an alternative like trustees, governors, etc.
- Director – a manager of managers within an organization who is often responsible for a major business function and who sometimes reports to a vice president (note that in some financial services companies the title vice president has a different meaning). Often used with name of a functional area; finance director, director of finance, marketing director, and so on. Not to be confused with a member of the board of directors, who is also referred to as a director. This is a middle management and not an executive level position, unless it is in the banking industry. Alternatively, a manager of managers is often referred to as a "senior manager' or as an "associate vice president", depending upon levels of management, and industry type.
- President – legally recognized highest "titled" corporate officer, and usually a member of the board of directors. There is much variation; often the CEO also holds the title of president, while in other organizations if there is a separate CEO, the president is then second highest-ranking position. In such a case the president is often the COO and is considered to be more focused upon daily operations compared to the CEO, who is supposed to be the visionary. If the corporate president is not the COO (such as Richard Parsons of Time Warner from 1995 to 2001), then many division heads report directly to the CEO themselves, with the president taking on special assignments from the CEO.
- Secretary or company secretary – legally recognized "titled" corporate officer who reports to the board of directors and is responsible for keeping the records of the board and the company. This title is often concurrently held by the treasurer in a dual position called secretary-treasurer; both positions may be concurrently held by the CFO. Note, however, that the secretary has a reporting line to the board of directors, regardless of any other reporting lines conferred by concurrent titles.
- Treasurer – legally recognized corporate officer entrusted with the fiduciary responsibility of caring for company funds. Often this title is held concurrently with that of secretary in a dual role called secretary-treasurer. It can also be held concurrently with the title of CFO or fall under the jurisdiction of one, though the CFO tends to oversee the finance department instead, which deals with accounting and audits, while the treasurer deals directly with company funds. Note, however, that the treasurer has a reporting line to the board of directors, regardless of any other reporting lines conferred by concurrent titles.
- Owner (sometimes proprietor or sole proprietor, for sole proprietorships)
- Partner – Used in many different ways. This may indicate a co-owner as in a legal partnership or may be used in a general way to refer to a broad class of employees or temporary/contract workers who are often assigned field or customer service work. Associate is often used in a similar way.
- Vice chair or vice chairman – officer of the board of directors who may stand in for the chairman in his or her absence. However, this type of vice chairman title on its own usually has only an advisory role and not an operational one (such as Ted Turner at Time Warner). An unrelated definition of vice chair describes an executive who is higher ranking or has more seniority than executive vice president. Sometimes, EVPs report to the vice chair, who in turn reports directly to the CEO (so vice chairs in effect constitute an additional layer of management), other vice chairs have more responsibilities but are otherwise on an equal tier with EVPs. Executive vice chairman are usually not on the board of directors. Royal Bank of Canada previously used vice chairs in their inner management circle until 2004 but have since renamed them as group heads.
List of chief officer (CO) titles
|chief academic officer||CAO||Responsible for academic administration at universities and other higher education institutions|
|chief accessibility officer||CAO||Responsible for overseeing accessibility and inclusion for people with disabilities and seniors|
|chief accounting officer||CAO||Responsible for overseeing all accounting and bookkeeping functions, ensuring that ledger accounts, financial statements, and cost control systems are operating effectively|
|chief administrative officer||CAO||Responsible for business administration, including daily operations and overall performance|
|chief artificial intelligence officer||CAIO||Responsible for AI research department|
|chief analytics officer||CAO||Responsible for data analysis and interpretation|
|chief architect||CA||Responsible for designing systems for high availability and scalability, specifically in technology companies. Often called enterprise architects (EA).|
|chief audit executive||CAE||Responsible for the internal audit|
|chief business officer||CBO||Responsible for the company's deal making, provides leadership and execute a deal strategy that will allow the company to fulfill its scientific/technology mission and build shareholder value, provides managerial guidance to the company's product development staff as needed.|
|chief business development officer||CBDO||Responsible for business development plans, design and implementation of processes to support business growth|
|chief brand officer||CBO||Responsible for a brand's image, experience, and promise, and propagating it throughout all aspects of the company, overseeing marketing, advertising, design, public relations and customer service departments|
|chief commercial officer||CCO||Responsible for commercial strategy and development|
|chief communications officer||CCO||Responsible for communications to employees, shareholders, media, bloggers, influencers, the press, the community, and the public. Practical application of communication studies|
|chief compliance officer||CCO||Responsible for overseeing and managing regulatory compliance.|
|chief content officer||CCO||Responsible for developing and commissioning content for broadcasting channels and multimedia exploitation|
|chief creative officer||CCO||In one sense of the term, responsible for the overall look and feel of marketing, media, and branding. In another sense, similar to chief design officer.|
|chief customer officer||CCO||Responsible for customer relationship management|
|chief development officer||CDO||Responsible for activities developing the business, usually through added products, added clients, markets or segments|
|chief data officer||CDO||Responsible for enterprise-wide governance and utilization of information and data as assets, via data processing, data analysis, data mining, information trading, and other means|
|chief delivery officer||CDO||Responsible for leading the project management office for project coordination, and facilitating product deliveries among clients worldwide|
|chief design officer||CDO||Responsible for overseeing all design aspects of a company's products and services, including product design, graphic design, user experience design, industrial design, and package design, and possibly aspects of advertising, marketing, and engineering|
|chief digital officer||CDO||Responsible for adoption of digital technologies, digital consumer experiences, the process of digital transformation, and devising and executing social strategies|
|chief diversity officer||CDO||Responsible for diversity and inclusion, including diversity training and equal employment opportunity|
|chief engineering officer||CEngO||Similar to the more common chief technology officer (CTO); responsible for technology/product R & D and manufacturing issues in a technology company, oversees the development of technology being commercialized|
|chief executive officer||CEO||Responsible for the overall vision and direction of an organization, making the final decisions over all of the corporation's operations. The highest-ranking management officer; often also the chairman of the board. Usually called CEO in the United States, chief executive or managing director in the United Kingdom, Commonwealth of Nations, and some other countries.|
|chief experience officer||CXO||Responsible for user experience, overseeing user experience design and user interface design. CXO is not to be confused with CxO, a term commonly used when referring to any one of various chief officers.|
|chief financial officer||CFO||Responsible for all aspects of finances|
|chief gaming officer||CGO||Responsible for both the game development and the online/offline publishing functions of a company that makes video games|
|chief government relations officer||CGRO||Responsible for all aspects of government relations and lobbying|
|chief human resources officer||CHRO||Responsible for all aspects of human resource management and industrial relations|
|chief information officer||CIO||Responsible for IT, particularly in IT companies or companies that rely heavily on an IT infrastructure|
|chief information security officer||CISO||Responsible for information security|
|chief innovation officer||CINO||Responsible for innovation|
|chief investment officer||CIO||Responsible for investment and for the asset liability management (ALM) of typical large financial institutions such as insurers, banks and/or pension funds|
|chief information technology officer||CITO||Responsible for information technology. Often equivalent to chief information officer (CIO) and, in a company that sells IT, chief technology officer (CTO).|
|chief knowledge officer||CKO||Responsible for managing intellectual capital and knowledge management|
|chief legal officer||CLO||Responsible for overseeing and identifying legal issues in all departments and their interrelation, as well as corporate governance and business policy. Often called general counsel (GC) or chief counsel.|
|chief learning officer||CLO||Responsible for learning and training|
|chief marketing officer||CMO||Responsible for marketing; job may include sales management, product development, distribution channel management, marketing communications (including advertising and promotions), pricing, market research, and customer service.|
|chief medical officer||CMO||Responsible for scientific and medical excellence, especially in pharmaceutical companies, health systems, hospitals, and integrated provider networks. The title is used in many countries for the senior government official who advises on matters of public health importance. In the latter sense compare also chief dental officer.|
|chief networking officer||CNO||Responsible for social capital within the company and between the company and its partners|
|chief nursing officer||CNO||Responsible for nursing|
|chief operating officer||COO||Responsible for supervising office administration and maintenance, business operations, including operations management, operations research, and (when applicable) manufacturing operations; role is highly contingent and situational, changing from company to company and even from a CEO to their successor within the same company. Often called "director of operations" in the nonprofit sector.|
|chief process officer||CPO||Responsible for business processes and applied process theory, defining rules, policies, and guidelines to ensure that the main objectives follow the company strategy as well as establishing control mechanisms|
|chief procurement officer||CPO||Responsible for procurement, sourcing goods and services and negotiating prices and contracts|
|chief product officer||CPO||Responsible for all product-related matters. The CPO is to the business's product what the CTO is to technology. The responsibilities of the CPO are inclusive of product vision, product strategy, user experience, product design, product development, and product marketing.|
|chief quality officer||CQO||Responsible for quality and quality assurance, setting up quality goals and ensuring that those goals continue to be met over time|
|chief research and development officer||CRDO||Responsible for research and development|
|chief research officer||CRO||Responsible for research|
|chief revenue officer||CRO||Responsible for measuring and maximizing revenue|
|chief risk officer||CRO||Responsible for risk management, ensuring that risk is avoided, controlled, accepted, or transferred and that opportunities are not missed. Sometimes called chief risk management officer (CRMO).|
|chief system engineer||CSE||Responsible for the whole system specification, validation, and verification in development processes. Usually using as the manager of other sub-system engineers.|
|chief sales officer||CSO||Responsible for sales|
|chief science officer||CSO||Responsible for science, usually applied science, including research and development and new technologies Sometimes called chief scientist.|
|chief security officer||CSO||Responsible for security, including physical security and network security|
|chief software officer||CSO||Responsible for the overall software strategy, roadmap, engineering, and user experience|
|chief solutions officer||CSO||Responsible for the development and delivery of reliable and innovative business and technology solutions|
|chief strategy officer||CSO||Responsible for all aspects of strategy and strategic planning, including enterprise portfolio management, corporate development, and market intelligence|
|chief sustainability officer||CSO||Responsible for environmental/sustainability programs.|
|chief technical officer||CTO||Responsible to bridge the technical specific issues related to product or service in the organization. This position is common in NGOs and the development aid sector when the CEO or Project Director is not a person with a strong technical background related to the aid program focus such as economic development, renewable energy, human rights, agriculture, WASH, emergency responses, etc. The CTO provides guidance and advice to the program implementation team related to technical things. In some development aid programs, this position is similar to the Technical Director.|
|chief technology officer||CTO||Responsible for technology and research and development, overseeing the development of technology to be commercialized. (For an information technology company, the subject matter would be similar to the CIO's; however, the CTO's focus is technology for the firm to sell versus technology used for facilitating the firm's own operations.). Sometimes called chief technical officer.|
|chief value officer||CVO||Ensure that all programs, actions, new products, services and investments create and capture customer value.|
|chief visionary officer||CVO||Responsible for defining corporate vision, business strategy, and working plans|
|chief web officer||CWO||Responsible for the web presence of the company and usually for the entire online presence, including intranet and Internet (web, mobile apps, other)|
- General manager or GM
- Of Counsel – A lawyer working on a part-time or temporary basis for a company or law firm.
- Vice president – Middle or upper manager in a corporation. They often appear in various hierarchical layers such as executive vice president, senior vice president, associate vice president, or assistant vice president, with EVP usually considered the highest and usually reporting to the CEO or president. Many times, corporate officers such as the CFO, COO, CIO, CTO, secretary, or treasurer will concurrently hold vice president titles, commonly EVP or SVP. Vice presidents in small companies are also referred to as chiefs of a certain division, such as vice president for finance, or vice president for administration. Note that in some financial contexts, the title of vice president is actually subordinate to a director.
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Every holder of stock represented by certificates shall be entitled to have a certificate signed by, or in the name of the corporation by the chairperson or vice-chairperson of the board of directors, or the president or vice-president, and by the treasurer or an assistant treasurer, or the secretary or an assistant secretary of such corporation representing the number of shares registered in certificate form.
- "California Corporations Code § 312". Archived from the original on 13 November 2012. Retrieved 19 December 2013.
A corporation shall have a chairman of the board or a president or both, a secretary, a chief financial officer, and such other officers with such titles and duties as shall be stated in the bylaws or determined by the board and as may be necessary to enable it to sign instruments and share certificates.
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