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C-Level Executives

What is a C-Level Executive?

It is true that different companies have different corporate hierarchies to suit their needs. And this can become quite confusing. Of all the senior management job titles, you might have heard the term ‘C-level executives’ and wondered what it meant, or rather, whom it meant.

What does C-level mean?

The letter ‘C’ stands for the word ‘Chief’ and a Chief is the ultimate leader of a department or a company. C-level executives, also called C-suite executives are the top tier of executives at any company. Most importantly, they are the people with the most decision-making power within the company.

The reason they are called ‘C-level’ or ‘C-suite’ is the way the initials of their job titles always begin with a C and follow with 2-3 capitalizations. The last capitalization being ‘O’ for officer. Meaning they are chief officers of their departments. These executives usually have many years of experience in their field or have been in the same company for many years. They also have years of training involved. Becoming a part of the ‘C-suite’ is usually the highest point of an executive’s career.

What are their responsibilities?

C-level executives can either be in charge of the entire company to ensure all operations are aligned with the companies goals, or they can be in charge of a department such as finance, marketing, technology, operations, etc.

Typically a C-level executive is not just well-versed with the details and functioning of their department and field of expertise, but are also expected to have skills such as;

  • Leadership skills
  • Conflict management
  • Critical thinking
  • High business acumen
  • Change management
  • Communication skills
  • Decision-making skills
  • Planning and organizational skills
  • Team-building skills, etc.

Since They are also responsible for setting goals and strategies for the company along with the board of directors, and then assembling a team to accomplish those goals. Their involvement in the daily activities depend largely on the size of the company and the requirement for their involvement.

What are the types of C-level positions?

The most common C-suite titles are;

  • CEO

The Chief Executive Officer or CEO is the highest order of the C-level executives and so all other C-level executives report to them. They are also often the founder or owner of their own company, in which case they are probably younger than CEOs that are appointed.

  • COO

The Chief Operating Officer or COO makes sure the entire organization runs smoothly and all the plans are being carried out as required. They also are usually second-in-command after the CEO.

  • CFO

The Chief Financial Officer or CFO is, as the title suggests, in charge of all the financial aspects of the organization. Whether it is budgets, financial goals, risk, etc., the CFO is in charge.

  • CTO and CIO

The Chief Technology Officer or CTO or Chief Information Officer or CIO is usually in charge of the tech infrastructure of the company. Though in larger companies there might be both roles. In that case the CTO is in charge of innovation and new products and features the company can incorporate for various needs, while the CIO is in charge of the internal systems and making sure they are running smoothly.

Some that are not as common are;

  • CMO

The Chief Marketing Officer or CMO is in charge of all the marketing dealing and potential marketing operations to push the company in the market.

  • CHRO

The Chief Human Resources Officer or CHRO is the head of the HR department and is responsible for making sure tasks like recruitment, team building, payroll, etc are on track.

  • CSO and CISO

The Chief Security Officer or CSO is responsible for security throughout the company, whether physical security of the premises or digital security of computer systems within the company. In larger companies there might be a Chief Information Security Officer or CISO as well. In this case, the CSO will be in charge of solely physical security, while the CISO will be in charge of cybersecurity and the technology infrastructure.

  • CGO

This role is fast becoming a high-priority role in order to become a truly green company. The Chief Green Officer or CGO is in charge of making sure the company’s carbon footprint is under control. They are responsible for making sure the company is energy efficient and e-waste is at a minimum.

The C-suite of a company can expand and contract depending on the requirements of the company. But regardless of which C-suite executive you are, it is a position of extreme pride.


Q. Other than their expertise, what are some of the skills required in a C-suite executive?

A. Skills such as leadership, conflict management, critical thinking, change management, and communication skills are required in a C-suite executive.


Q. What are some of the main responsibilities of C-level executives?

A. They are responsible for setting goals and strategies for the company along with the board of directors, and assembling a team to accomplish those goals.

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