Blake Snow

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Chief “what” officer? Corporate titles explained

What do all those silly corporate titles really mean? Let’s find out.

According to Wikipedia, the Chairman (of the board) is pretty much the top dog. He elects the CEO and President who then elect the rest of the down line. The Chairman and the rest of the board are more concerned with governance while the CEO and President are more concerned with management. The distinction between governance and management allows for clear lines of authority with the aim being to prevent a conflict of interest and too much power being concentrated in the hands of one person.

The President can also be known as COO or chief operating officer, taking care of the day-to-day operations of the company while the CEO is more concerned with strategic management. The President or COO report directly to the CEO, and the CEO to the board.

These titles are generally used for large, public corporations, while partners (chair persons) and directors (managers) are typically used for smaller, private firms. There you have it.

Originally published Oct 21, 2005