C-level officers are an organization’s most senior executives. This group commonly includes the chief executive officer (CEO), chief financial officer (CFO), chief information officer (CIO) and chief marketing officer (CMO). C-level officers share common duties, such as strategic planning, in addition to their functional responsibilities.
The senior executive team works together to develop corporate strategy. The Harvard Business review notes that C-level officers are expected not only to support the CEO on business strategies but also to offer their own insights and contribute to key decisions. Collaboration between CEO and CIO is particularly important. The CEO may consider adopting an expansion strategy based on partnership with external suppliers, for example. The CIO can support that strategy by developing communication links that enable all partners to collaborate effectively. The CMO would consider the marketing potential of the partnership, while the CFO would review the financial implications.
C-level officers make joint decisions on major investments, such as a new computer system or manufacturing plant. They may initiate an investment decision, but delegate the detailed work of identifying requirements, sourcing information, evaluating suitable products, and identifying and shortlisting potential suppliers. Officers become involved in the later stages of the process, evaluating suppliers and making decisions on the most appropriate way to finance a purchase.
Chief Executive Officer
CEOs take overall responsibility for leading and managing a company’s operations. They develop and communicate the company’s vision to employees, shareholders, customers and business partners. They develop and implement company strategy in conjunction with other executives. CEOs lead and evaluate the work of other C-level officers, developing their skills and ensuring that their work aligns with the corporate strategy.
Chief Financial Officer
The duties of the CFO are changing, according to the consultancy Ernst & Young. While their main responsibility is managing the company’s finances, they contribute to operational decision-making and take responsibility for investor relations, real estate, and mergers and acquisitions. At an operational level, CFOs manage a team of accountants and financial managers. They develop and implement the company’s financial policies and manage finances to ensure that the company is profitable.
Chief Information Officer
CIOs are responsible for the company’s information technology strategy and operations. They work closely with other business executives to ensure that information technology strategy is aligned to the company’s business strategy and delivers measurable business benefits. Introducing cloud computing, for example, can reduce the company’s IT infrastructure and management costs. A cloud computing strategy also makes the company more agile and responsive to changing market conditions.
Chief Marketing Officer
CMOs are the interface between a company and its customers. CMOs are responsible for marketing operations, such as communication and customer relationship management. They have an important role in ensuring that companies focus their product development and sales resources on customers’ needs. CMOs are responsible for meeting revenue and growth targets. In their operational role, they manage a team of marketing specialists, develop marketing strategy and plan campaigns in collaboration with marketing agencies.