CEO – Chief Executive Officer
In essence, the CEO will run the company, this is the highest C level position in the company. All other C level officers will report to the CEO. The CEO will typically report to the board of directors.
CFO – Chief Financial Officer
In many organizations this is the second most important C level position after the CEO. The CFO is in charge of running the the whole financial operation upon which the company is built. This position usually looks after the financial planning and roadmap, oversees the financial risks, and carries out the crucial financial reporting to the main stakeholders, stockholders, and relevant government institutions.
COO – Chief Operations Officer
If the CFO is not the #2 in the company, then for sure the COO is. The Chief Operations Officer works side by side with the CEO making sure the company’s roadmap, vision, policy, and strategy are reflected during the day to day operations of the company. In the absence of the CEO, the COO will very often be the one in charge.
CTO – Chief Technology Officer or CIO – Chief Information Officer
Responsible for running the complete technology stack the company relies on in order to carry out its business, in short, everything IT. This could entail -but is not limited to- systems administrations and management (which would nowadays most likely run in the cloud), software development, and technological research & development.
CHRO – Chief Human Resources Officer or CPO Chief People Officer
The CHRO doesn’t have a long tradition of sitting at the C level table, but as retaining precious talent has become a growing concern for companies, this position has found its way to the big boy table. Given one of this position’s main objectives is to charm, attract, and retain talent, the more “hip” Chief People Officer nomenclature will often replace the CHRO designation.
CMO – Chief Marketing Officer
This C level position often covers both the areas of Marketing and Sales. Yes, these are often the moneymakers in the company and play a crucial role in order to keep the coffers full and replenished. Under its wings you will usually see the areas of service offerings, product development, marketing strategy, and brand promotion.
CCO – Chief Compliance Officer
This position’s main task is to keep the company in line with the many regulations it needs to adhere to. Depending on how large the scope is, a Fortune 500 company might need to comply with over 200 different compliance and regulations scenarios. The recent explosion of data protection regulations such as GDPR, CCPA, PIPL, PIPEDA, etc. has only added to an already heavy portfolio this position needs to look after. In addition to all the regulatory obligations, it will also need to manage all the internal and external audits the company is required to cooperate with.
CLO – Chief Legal Officer
A Chief Legal Officer has the unenviable task of keeping the company out of legal trouble. The bigger you are the bigger is the target on your back, and the CLO makes sure that bullseye stays clean. A big part of its scope deals with lawsuits, complaints, subpoenas, and all different legal requirements and activities. Even though a lot of the attention focuses on the aforementioned activities, the CLO will also champion the proactive implementation of policies to ensure the company operates in a manner that steers it clear of legal issues.
CISO – Chief Information Security Officer
Working closely with the CTO/CIO the CISO position ensures the protection of all digital assets and IT infrastructure of the company. CISOs will create and implement IT security policies across the organization making sure not only the technical elements of the operations are protected, but that the behavioral aspect of its employees are in line with the security needs of the company.
CCO – Chief Communications Officer
The CCO will manage all aspects of the company’s internal and external communications. Working together with the CEO, an internal communication plan is developed to inform the company’s employees of all the decisions, plans, strategy, changes, etc. that will take place in a given period. In addition to this, the CCO will also manage the external communications, such as social media channels, press releases, and act as its spokesperson.
CDO – Chief Diversity Officer
An increasingly relevant role, a CDO will ensure all the diversity and inclusion initiatives in a company get the proper attention and end up in the right channels. Very often this position will find itself under the CHRO/CPO.
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