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A large company may have thousands of salespeople, clerks, technicians, managers and maintenance workers who keep it functioning efficiently and profitably. At the very top, however, are a handful of corporate officers who meet frequently to oversee all corporate activities. They assume the ultimate responsibility for the success or failure of their enterprise.
Also known as the executive director or president, the chief executive officer sits at the top of the corporate ladder. The CEO is answerable only to the board of the directors and the company’s owners, and sets the goals of a corporation and finds the best strategies for meeting those goals. An administrative staff helps the CEO collect, manage and distribute information, and the CEO meets frequently with other corporate officers to determine organizational policies and procedures. CEOs frequently analyze company reports to inform decisions and promote workers to management positions.
The chief operating officer acts as the CEO's right hand person and shares many duties with the CEO. COOs often ascend to the top position when chief executives step down. COOs' primary responsibility is to oversee daily company operations. While they may have a comfortable office from which to plan their activities, they often walk the corporation’s floors to view operations first-hand and to talk to individual managers and workers. They may determine a company's material and staffing resources, hire and promote employees and determine the priorities for projects, products and services.
Also called controllers, treasurers or comptrollers, chief financial officers take charge of setting an organization’s financial goals. They develop procedures and processes for overseeing financial activities, create internal controls for cash and credit management, and make sure the company meets all applicable financial laws and regulations. They manage all financial staff by hiring, training and promoting accountants, auditing clerks and budget analysts. They also advise corporate officers and department managers on how to control costs and increase profits.
Because modern corporations thrive on the organization and processing of information, chief information officers manage the technology needed to organize data. They determine the information technology needs of different departments, and then plan and implement resources to meet those needs, including hardware, software, networks and communications. They oversee the hiring and training of IT personnel, such as network administrators, programmers and systems analysts, and look for effective ways of training employees on new technology. Security is a major part of the job, so they must implement measures to prevent unauthorized access to company systems.