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Titles Associated with Executive Compensation

Chief Executive Officer (CEO)

In closely held corporations, it is general business culture that the office of Chief Executive Officer, CEO, is also the chairman of the board. Specifically, one person often shares the chairman and CEO titles while another person takes the presidency or may become chief operating officer (COO). However, the term president is from the U.S. whereas in the UK Managing Director (MD) is favored. Underneath that comes the Executive Vice President (U.S.) or Executive Director (UK). In publicly held corporations, the CEO and chairman positions can be separated but there are implications in corporate governance by doing so.

In some European Union countries, there are two separate boards, one executive board for the day-to-day business and one supervisory board for control purposes (elected by the shareholders). In these countries, the chief executive officer presides over the executive board and the chairman presides over the supervisory board and these two roles will always be held by different people. This ensures a distinction between management by the executive board and governance by the supervisory board. This allows for clear lines of authority. The aim is to prevent a conflict of interest and too much power being concentrated in the hands of one person. There is a strong parallel here with the structure of governments, which tend to separate the political cabinet from the management civil service.


Develops the basic objectives, policies, and operating plans of the business.  Insures that organizational policies are uniformly understood and properly interpreted and administered by subordinates; reviews and approves proposed internal policies of subordinate units.

Plans and directs all investigations and negotiations pertaining to the acquisition of businesses, or the sale of major assets.  Takes necessary actions to protect and enhance the organization's investments.  Represents the organization in its relationships with major customers, suppliers, competitors, commercial and investment bankers, government agencies, professional societies and similar groups.

Prescribes the specific limitations of the authority of subordinates regarding policies, contractual commitments, expenditures, and personnel actions.  Reviews and approves the appointment, employment, transfer or termination of all key executives.  Resolves any conflicts arising between operating groups, staff units and other elements under immediate supervision.


Board of Director (BOD)

In relation to a company, a director is an officer (that is, someone who works for the company) charged with the conduct and management of its affairs. A director may be an inside director (a director who is also an officer) or an outside, or independent, director. The directors collectively are referred to as a board of directors. Sometimes the board will appoint one of its members to be the chair of the board of directors.

Theoretically, the control of a company is divided between two bodies: the board of directors, and the shareholders in general meeting. In practice, the amount of power exercised by the board varies with the type of company. In small private companies, the directors and the shareholders will normally be the same people, and thus there is no real division of power. In large public companies, the board tends to exercise more of a supervisory role, and individual responsibility and management tends to be delegated downward to individual professional executive directors (such as a finance director or a marketing director) who deal with particular areas of the company's affairs.

Another feature of boards of directors in large public companies is that the board tends to have more de facto power. Between the practice of institutional shareholders (such as pension funds and banks) granting proxies to the board to vote their shares at general meetings and the large numbers of shareholders involved, the board can comprise a voting block that is difficult to overcome. However, there have been moves recently to try and increase shareholder activism amongst both institutional investors and individuals with small shareholdings.


Chief Financial Officer (CFO)

The Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of a company or public agency is the corporate officer primarily responsible for managing the financial risks of the business or agency. This officer is also responsible for financial planning and record-keeping, as well as financial reporting to higher management. (In recent years, however, the role has expanded to encompass communicating financial performance and forecasts to the analyst community.) The title is equivalent to finance director, commonly seen in the United Kingdom. The CFO typically reports to the Chief Executive Officer, and is frequently a member of the board of directors.


Chief Information Officer (CIO)

The chief information officer or CIO is a job title for the head of the information technology group within an organization. The CIO typically reports to the chief executive officer. In military organizations, they report to the commanding officer or commanding general of the organization.

The prominence of this position has risen greatly as information technology has become a more important part of business. The CIO may be a member of the "executive board" of the organization, but this is dependent on the type of organization.

No specific qualification is typical of CIOs in general; every CIO position has its own specific job description. In the past, many had degrees in computer science, software engineering, or information systems, but this is by no means universal. Many were technical staff. More recently CIOs' leadership capabilities, business acumen and strategic perspectives have taken precedence over technical skills. It is now quite common for CIOs to be appointed from the business side of the organization.

The CIO role has in some cases been expanded to become the chief knowledge officer. The CIO role is also sometimes used interchangeably with the chief technology officer role, although they are slightly different. CTO's are responsible for technological research and development as part of products and services whereas a CIO deals primarily with information technology as infrastructure.


Chief Operating Officer (COO)

A Chief Operating Officer (COO) is a corporate officer responsible for managing the day-to-day activities of the corporation. The COO is one of the highest ranking members of an organization, monitoring the daily operations of the company and reporting to the Board of Directors. The COO is usually an executive or senior vice president.

The chief operating officer is responsible for operations management (OM). The focus of the COO is on strategic, tactical, and short-term OM, which means he or she is responsible for the design, operation, and improvement of the systems that create and deliver the firm's products/services. Managers need to understand the real work behind the company's core operations, and the buck stops with the COO, whose primary concern is operations improvement. The duties of the COO may reside in certain organizations with a Vice President of Operations.


Chief Marketing Officer (CMO)

With primary or shared responsibility for areas such as sales management, product development, distribution channel management, public relations, marketing communications (including advertising and promotions), pricing, market research, and customer service, CMOs are faced with a diverse range of specialized disciplines in which they are forced to be knowledgeable. This challenge is compounded by the fact that the day-to-day activities of these functions, which range from the highly analytical (eg. -pricing and market research) to highly creative (advertising and promotions), are carried out by subordinates possessing learning and cognitive styles to which the CMO must adapt his or her own leadership style.

Beyond the challenges of leading their own subordinates, the CMO is invariably reliant upon resources beyond their direct control. That is to say, the priorities and/or resources of functional areas outside of marketing such as production, information technology, legal, and finance have a direct impact on the achievement of marketing objectives. Consequently, more than any other senior executive, the CMO must influence peers in order to achieve their own goals. Clearly, this necessity to lead peers compounds the complexity of challenge faced by the CMO.


Chief Analytics Officer (CAO)

Chief Analytics Officer or CAO is a job title for the senior manager responsible for the analysis of data within an organization, such as a listed company or an educational institution. The CAO often reports to the Chief Executive Officer.

This position, along with that of Chief Information Officer has risen to prominence due to the rise in information technology and data acquisition. The two positions are similar in that both deal with information. Whereas the CIO focuses on the infrastructure required for maintaining and communicating information, the CAO focuses on the infrastructure required for generating and analyzing information. Another similar position is that of Chief Data Officer. Whereas the CDO focuses on data processing and maintenance, the CAO focuses on providing input into operational decisions on the basis of the analysis. As such, the CAO requires experience in marketing, finance, or operations. The CAO may be a member of the board of directors of the organization, but this is dependent on the type of organization.

No specific qualification is typical of CAO's in general; every CAO position has its own specific job description. Many have advanced degrees in statistics, economics, econometrics and/or marketing, but this is by no means universal. Many were analysts in the past. Further management training and experience is also required.


Chief Networking Officer (CNO)

The Chief Networking Officer (CNO) is a new corporate executive office in the business world; it refers to a person who manages the social capital of a company. The CNO connects people and businesses within the company, with other companies, as well as with consumers, hence facilitating know-how transfer and information flow, and allowing for profits to grow.


Chief Data Officer (CDO)

The Chief Data Officer or CDO is a job title for a member of the executive management team and is the manager of enterprise-wide data processing & data mining. The Chief Data Officer typically reports to the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) or the Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

The role of manager for data processing was not elevated to that of senior management prior to the 1980s. As organizations have recognized the importance of information technology as well as business intelligence, data integration and data processing to the fundamental functioning of everyday business, this role has become more visible and crucial. This role includes defining strategic priorities for the company in the area of data systems and opportunities, identifying new business opportunities pertaining to data, optimizing revenue generation through data, and generally representing data as a strategic business asset at the executive table.

With the rise in service-oriented architectures (SOA), large scale system integration, and heterogeneous data storage/exchange mechanisms (databases, XML, EDI, etc.), it is necessary to have a very high level individual guide the creation and implementation of data strategy. Besides the revenue opportunities, acquisition strategy, and customer data policies, the Chief Data Officer is charged with explaining to executives, employees, and customers the strategic value of data and its important role as a business asset and revenue driver. This is in great contrast to the older view of data systems as backend IT systems.


Chief Technical/Technology Officer (CTO)

A chief technical officer or chief technology officer (abbreviated as CTO) is an executive position whose holder is focused on scientific and technical issues within a company. Often, the CTO will oversee technical staff at a company, particularly those building products or creating services that embody industry-specific technologies. In some cases the CTO will also oversee the work of the research and development organizations. There is currently no commonly shared definition of the CTO position or that person's responsibilities. Young start-ups typically have a set of technically hands-on tasks for the CTO, while an international conglomerate may need the CTO to deal with the representatives of foreign governments and industry organizations.

Though the position is believed to have emerged in the 1980s from that of Director of R&D, it came into significant use during the dot-com of the 1990s. This era also spawned one more definition for the position. Within IT companies it is common for the CTO to be part of the IT organization and to report to the CIO. In such a situation, the CTO often handles the most technical details of the IT products and their implementation. Often, the CTO is seen as a "Junior CIO" who may be promoted into that position. Because of the extreme success of IT in recent years, there are a large number of organizations, and industry publications, that view the CTO position in this very IT-specific way. However, this definition is far too narrow to be applied to all of the companies that use the title.

In practice, the CTO can have many more responsibilities than managing a portfolio of R&D or production projects. This person provides a technical voice in the strategic planning for a company. CTOs like Greg Popodopoulos at Sun Microsystems and Padmasree Warrior at Motorola work closely with the CEO to help determine what types of products or services the company should focus on. As an example, during a long airplane ride, Ed Zander, Motorola CEO, and Padmasree Warrior, Motorola CTO, collaborated to identify the central technical goal for the company. The result was the tag line "seamless mobility". Warrior explained that fast digital networks would soon be ubiquitous and the cellphone was the perfect device to take advantage of these. With a cellphone a customer could access voice, data, and music anywhere, anytime – hence seamless mobility. Zander presented this message to an industry group at their destination and it became a core mission for the entire company.

A list of responsibilities that have been identified by CTOs are:

Provide advice on company products, services, strategy, and structure. Similar to any other corporate executive, but with a uniquely technical competence.

Aid in the valuation of internal businesses or of potential acquisitions. Provide analysis and opinion on the value of product portfolios, patents, facilities, and skilled staff.

Build a vision for what technology will make possible, how it will impact a company's business area, and how to squeeze the most value from these changes.

Communicate the vision of the company to its own technical staff, to industry groups, and to the technical trade press. Engage these groups with terms from their own domain and with the personal credentials to be respected.

Lead and manage the R&D labs or operations that involve significant technologies to the company. Build internal expertise in new areas and create young new leaders to replace the current CTO and other senior members.

Participate in research and product creation directly. Be a significant part of innovative products, such as Steve Wozniak with the first Apple computer.


Chief Legal Officer (CLO)

A Chief Legal Officer (CLO) is the highest-ranking corporate officer concerning legal affairs of a corporation or agency. A corporation is any company that has been incorporated, be it PLC, Ltd. or limited by guarantee. Qualified CLOs of corporations should have leadership skills and be able to act decisively regarding legal challenges that face a corporation. They typically report to the Board of Directors in the annual meeting. The CLO typically reports directly to the CEO.


Chief Visionary Officer (CVO)

A chief visionary officer (CVO) is a function within a company normally established beside the other executive functions like CEO or COO. The title is sometimes used to define a higher ranking position than that held by the CEO, and sometimes used to formalize a high-level advisory position. In some cases, the CVO is added to the CEO title (for CEO/CVO status). The CVO is expected to have a broad and comprehensive knowledge of all matters related to the business of the organization, as well as the vision required to steer its course into the future. The person in charge must have the core-competencies of every business-executive, but in addition the visionary ideas must move the company forward. These are used as the basis for defining corporate strategies and working plans.


Executive Director / Managing Director / Corporate Director

An Executive director is a senior manager or executive officer of an organization, company or corporation. The position is comparable to a chief executive or managing director. An executive director is usually paid or remunerated for his or her work.

The senior employee of North American non-profit organizations is usually called the executive director instead of the chief executive officer in order to avoid the business connotations which the latter name often evokes. Small groups and membership organizations may use the term executive secretary. It also distinguishes them from other members of the Board of Directors who are not remunerated for their roles, and to whom the executive director answers. Charities in England and Wales tend to call the senior employee simply Director, as the governing body is usually a Board of Trustees.

Alternatively, in a corporate setting, the term executive director refers to those members of a Board of Directors who are also senior managers of the company. In this case, it distinguishes them from non-executive directors who are not actively involved in running the corporation.




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Compensation Resources, Inc. (CRI) provides compensation and human resource consulting services to mid- and small-cap public companies, private, family-owned, and closely held firms, as well as not-for-profit organizations. CRI specializes in executive compensation, sales compensation, pay-for-performance and incentive compensation, performance management programs, and expert witness services.
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