Corporate title

Corporate titles or business titles are given to company and organization officials to show what duties and responsibilities they have in the organization. Such titles are used by publicly and privately held for-profit corporations. In addition, many non-profit organizations, educational institutions, partnerships, and sole proprietorships also confer corporate titles.


There are considerable variations in the composition and responsibilities of corporate titles.

Within the corporate office or corporate center of a company, some companies have a chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) as the top-ranking executive, while the number two is the president and chief operating officer (COO); other companies have a president and CEO but no official deputy. Typically, senior managers are "higher" than vice presidents, although many times a senior officer may also hold a vice president title, such as executive vice president and chief financial officer (CFO). The board of directors is technically not part of management itself, although its chairman may be considered part of the corporate office if he or she is an executive chairman.

A corporation often consists of different businesses, whose senior executives report directly to the CEO or COO, but depends on the form of the business. If organized as a division then the top manager is often known as an executive vice president (EVP). If that business is a subsidiary which has considerably more independence, then the title might be chairman and CEO.

In many countries, particularly in Europe and Asia, there is a separate executive board for day-to-day business and supervisory board (elected by shareholders) for control purposes. In these countries, the CEO 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 seemingly allows for clear lines of authority. There is a strong parallel here with the structure of government, which tends to separate the political cabinet from the management civil service.

In the United States and other countries that follow a single-board corporate structure, the board of directors (elected by the shareholders) is often equivalent to the European or Asian supervisory board, while the functions of the executive board may be vested either in the board of directors or in a separate committee, which may be called an operating committee (J.P. Morgan Chase),[1] management committee (Goldman Sachs), executive committee (Lehman Brothers), or executive council (Hewlett-Packard), or executive board (HeiG) composed of the division/subsidiary heads and senior officers that report directly to the CEO.

United States

State laws in the United States traditionally required certain positions to be created within every corporation, such as president, secretary and treasurer. Today, the approach under the Model Business Corporation Act, which is employed in many states, is to grant companies discretion in determining which titles to have, with the only mandated organ being the board of directors.[2]

Some states that do not employ the MBCA continue to require that certain offices be established. Under the law of Delaware, where most large US corporations are established, stock certificates must be signed by two officers with titles specified by law (e.g. a president and secretary or a president and treasurer).[3] Every corporation incorporated in California must have a chairman of the board or a president (or both), as well as a secretary and a chief financial officer.[4]

Limited liability company (LLC)-structured companies are generally run directly by their members, but the members can agree to appoint officers such as a CEO or to appoint "managers" to operate the company.[5]

American companies are generally led by a CEO. In some companies, the CEO also has the title of "president". In other companies, a president is a different person, and the primary duties of the two positions are defined in the company's bylaws (or the laws of the governing legal jurisdiction). Many companies also have a CFO, a chief operating officer (COO) and other senior positions such as chief information officer (CIO), chief business officer (CBO), chief marketing officer (CMO), etc. that report to the president and CEO as "senior vice presidents" of the company. The next level, which are not executive positions, is middle management and may be called "vice presidents", "directors" or "managers", depending on the size and required managerial depth of the company.[6]

United Kingdom

In British English, the title of managing director is generally synonymous with that of chief executive officer.[7] Managing directors do not have any particular authority under the Companies Act in the UK, but do have implied authority based on the general understanding of what their position entails, as well as any authority expressly delegated by the board of directors.[8]

Japan and South Korea

In Japan, corporate titles are roughly standardized across companies and organizations; although there is variation from company to company, corporate titles within a company are always consistent, and the large companies in Japan generally follow the same outline.[9] These titles are the formal titles that are used on business cards.[10] Korean corporate titles are similar to those of Japan.

Legally, Japanese and Korean companies are only required to have a board of directors with at least one representative director.[11] In Japanese, a company director is called a torishimariyaku (取締役) and a representative director is called a daihyo torishimariyaku (代表取締役). The equivalent Korean titles are isa (이사, 理事) and daepyo-isa (대표이사, 代表理事). These titles are often combined with lower titles, e.g. senmu torishimariyaku or jomu torishimariyaku for Japanese executives who are also board members.[12][13] Most Japanese companies also have statutory auditors, who operate alongside the board of directors in supervisory roles.

The typical structure of executive titles in large companies includes the following:[12] [13][14]

English gloss Kanji (hanja) Japanese Korean Comments
Chairman 会長
Kaicho Hwejang
Often a semi-retired president or company founder. Denotes a position with considerable power within the company exercised through behind-the-scenes influence via the active president.
Vice chairman 副会長
Fuku-kaicho Bu-hwejang
At Korean family-owned chaebol companies such as Samsung, the vice-chairman commonly holds the CEO title (i.e., vice chairman and CEO)
President 社長 Shacho Sajang
Often CEO of the corporation. Some companies do not have the "chairman" position, in which case the "president" is the top position that is equally respected and authoritative.
Deputy president
or Senior executive vice president
副社長 Fuku-shacho Bu-sajang
Reports to the president
Executive vice president
専務 Senmu Jŏnmu
Senior vice president
常務 Jomu Sangmu
Vice president
or general manager
or department head
部長 Bucho Bujang
Highest non-executive title; denotes a head of a division or department. There is significant variation in the official English translation used by different companies.
Deputy general manager 次長 Jicho Chajang
Direct subordinate to bucho/bujang
or section head
課長 Kacho Gwajang
Denotes a head of a team or section underneath a larger division/department
Assistant manager
or team leader
Kakaricho Daeri'
Staff 社員 Shain Sawon
Staff without managerial titles are often referred to without using a title at all

The top management group, comprising jomu/sangmu and above, is often referred to collectively as "senior management" (幹部 or 重役; kambu or juyaku in Japanese; ganbu or jungyŏk in Korean).

Some Japanese and Korean companies have also adopted American-style titles, but these are not yet widespread and their usage varies. For example, although there is a Korean translation for chief operating officer (최고운영책임자, choego unyŏng chaegimja), not many companies have yet adopted it with an exception of a few multi-national companies such as Samsung and CJ, while the CFO title is often used alongside other titles such as bu-sajang (SEVP) or Jŏnmu (EVP).

Since the late 1990s, many Japanese companies have introduced the title of shikko yakuin (執行役員) or "officer", seeking to emulate the separation of directors and officers found in American companies. In 2002, the statutory title of shikko yaku (執行役) was introduced for use in companies that introduced a three-committee structure in their board of directors. The titles are frequently given to bucho and higher-level personnel. Although the two titles are very similar in intent and usage, there are several legal distinctions: shikko yaku make their own decisions in the course of performing work delegated to them by the board of directors, and are considered managers of the company rather than employees, with a legal status similar to that of directors. Shikko yakuin are considered employees of the company that follow the decisions of the board of directors, although in some cases directors may have the shikko yakuin title as well.[15][16]

Senior management

The highest-level executives in senior management usually have titles beginning with "chief" and ending with "officer", forming what is often called the C-Suite or CxO, where "x" is a variable that could be any functional area; not to be confused with CXO. The traditional three such officers are CEO, COO, and CFO. Depending on the management structure, titles may exist instead of, or be blended/overlapped with, other traditional executive titles, such as president, various designations of vice presidents (e.g. VP of marketing), and general managers or directors of various divisions (such as director of marketing); the latter may or may not imply membership of the board of directors.

Certain other prominent positions have emerged, some of which are sector-specific. For example, chief audit executive (CAE), chief procurement officer (CPO) and chief risk officer (CRO) positions are often found in many types of financial services companies. Technology companies of all sorts now tend to have a chief technology officer (CTO) to manage technology development. A CIO oversees information technology (IT) matters, either in companies that specialize in IT or in any kind of company that relies on it for supporting infrastructure.

Many companies now also have a CMO, particularly mature companies in competitive sectors, where brand management is a high priority. A chief value officer (CVO) is introduced in companies where business processes and organizational entities are focused on the creation and maximization of value. A chief administrative officer may be found in many large complex organizations that have various departments or divisions. Additionally, many companies now call their top diversity leadership position the chief diversity officer (CDO). However, this and many other nontraditional and lower-ranking titles are not universally recognized as corporate officers, and they tend to be specific to particular organizational cultures or the preferences of employees.

Specific corporate officer positions

  • Chairman of the board – presiding officer of the corporate board of directors. The chairman influences the board of directors, which in turn elects and removes the officers of a corporation and oversees the human, financial, environmental and technical operations of a corporation.
    • The CEO may also hold the title of "chairman", resulting in an executive chairman. In this case, the board frequently names an independent member of the board as a lead director.
    • Executive chairman – the chairman's post may also exist as an office separate from that of CEO, and it is considered an executive chairman if that titleholder wields influence over company operations, such as Steve Case of AOL Time Warner and Douglas Flint of HSBC. In particular, the group chairmanship of HSBC is considered the top position of that institution, outranking the chief executive, and is responsible for leading the board and representing the company in meetings with government figures.[17][18] Prior to the creation of the group management board in 2006, HSBC's chairman essentially held the duties of a chief executive at an equivalent institution, while HSBC's chief executive served as the deputy. After the 2006 reorganization, the management cadre ran the business, while the chairman oversaw the controls of the business through compliance and audit and the direction of the business.[19]
    • Non-executive chairman – also a separate post from the CEO, unlike an executive chairman, a non-executive chairman does not interfere in day-to-day company matters. Across the world, many companies have separated the roles of chairman and CEO, often resulting in a non-executive chairman, saying that this move improves corporate governance.
  • Chief business officer is a corporate senior executive who assumes full management responsibility for the company's deal making, provides leadership and executes a deal strategy that will allow the company to fulfill its scientific/technology mission and build shareholder value, provides managerial guidance to the company's product development staff as needed.
  • Chief of staff is a corporate director level manager who has overall responsibility for the staff activity within the company who often would have responsibility of hiring and firing of the highest level managers and sometimes directors. They can work with and report directly to managing directors and the chief executive officer.
  • Commissioner
  • Financial control officer, FCO or FC, also comptroller or controller – supervises accounting and financial reporting within an organization
  • Director or member of a board of directors – high-level official with a fiduciary responsibility of overseeing the operation of a corporation and elects or removes officers of a corporation; nominally, directors, other than the chairman are usually not considered to be employees of the company per se, although they may receive compensation, often including benefits; in publicly held companies. A board of directors is normally made up of members (directors) who are a mixture of corporate officials who are also management employees of the company (inside directors) and persons who are not employed by the company in any capacity (outside directors or non-executive directors). In privately held companies, the board of directors often only consists of the statutory corporate officials, and in sole proprietorship and partnerships, the board is entirely optional, and if it does exist, only operates in an advisory capacity to the owner or partners. Non-profit corporations’ governing board members may be called directors like most for-profit corporations, or an alternative like trustees, governors, etc.
  • Director – a manager of managers within an organization who is often responsible for a major business function and who sometimes reports to a vice president (note that in some financial services companies the title vice president has a different meaning). Often used with name of a functional area; finance director, director of finance, marketing director, and so on. Not to be confused with a member of the board of directors, who is also referred to as a director. This is a middle management and not an executive level position, unless it is in the banking industry. Alternatively, a manager of managers is often referred to as a "senior manager' or as an "associate vice president", depending upon levels of management, and industry type.
  • President – legally recognized highest "titled" corporate officer, and usually a member of the board of directors. There is much variation; often the CEO also holds the title of president, while in other organizations if there is a separate CEO, the president is then second highest-ranking position. In such a case the president is often the COO and is considered to be more focused upon daily operations compared to the CEO, who is supposed to be the visionary. If the corporate president is not the COO (such as Richard Parsons of Time Warner from 1995–2001), then many division heads report directly to the CEO themselves, with the president taking on special assignments from the CEO.
  • Secretary or company secretary – legally recognized "titled" corporate officer who reports to the board of directors and is responsible for keeping the records of the board and the company. This title is often concurrently held by the treasurer in a dual position called secretary-treasurer; both positions may be concurrently held by the CFO. Note, however, that the secretary has a reporting line to the board of directors, regardless of any other reporting lines conferred by concurrent titles.
  • Treasurer – legally recognized corporate officer entrusted with the fiduciary responsibility of caring for company funds. Often this title is held concurrently with that of secretary in a dual role called secretary-treasurer. It can also be held concurrently with the title of CFO or fall under the jurisdiction of one, though the CFO tends to oversee the finance department instead, which deals with accounting and audits, while the treasurer deals directly with company funds. Note, however, that the treasurer has a reporting line to the board of directors, regardless of any other reporting lines conferred by concurrent titles.
  • Superintendent
  • Owner (sometimes proprietor or sole proprietor, for sole proprietorships)
  • Partner – Used in many different ways. This may indicate a co-owner as in a legal partnership or may be used in a general way to refer to a broad class of employees or temporary/contract workers who are often assigned field or customer service work. Associate is often used in a similar way.
  • Vice chair or vice chairman – officer of the board of directors who may stand in for the chairman in his or her absence. However, this type of vice chairman title on its own usually has only an advisory role and not an operational one (such as Ted Turner at Time Warner).[20] An unrelated definition of vice chair describes an executive who is higher ranking or has more seniority than executive vice president. Sometimes, EVPs report to the vice chair, who in turn reports directly to the CEO (so vice chairs in effect constitute an additional layer of management), other vice chairs have more responsibilities but are otherwise on an equal tier with EVPs. Executive vice chairman are usually not on the board of directors. Royal Bank of Canada previously used vice chairs in their inner management circle until 2004 but have since renamed them as group heads.

List of chief officer (CO) titles

Title Postnominal Explanation
chief academic officerCAOResponsible for academic administration at universities and other higher education institutions
chief accessibility officerCAOResponsible for overseeing accessibility and inclusion for People with Disabilities and seniors
chief accounting officerCAOResponsible for overseeing all accounting and bookkeeping functions, ensuring that ledger accounts, financial statements, and cost control systems are operating effectively
chief administrative officerCAOResponsible for business administration, including daily operations and overall performance
chief artificial intelligence officerCAIOResponsible for AI research department
chief analytics officerCAOResponsible for data analysis and interpretation
chief architectCAResponsible for designing systems for high availability and scalability, specifically in technology companies. Often called enterprise architects (EA).
chief audit executiveCAEResponsible for the internal audit
chief business officerCBOResponsible for the company's deal making, provides leadership and execute a deal strategy that will allow the company to fulfill its scientific/technology mission and build shareholder value, provides managerial guidance to the company's product development staff as needed.
chief business development officerCBDOResponsible for business development plans, design and implementation of processes to support business growth
chief brand officerCBOResponsible for a brand's image, experience, and promise, and propagating it throughout all aspects of the company, overseeing marketing, advertising, design, public relations and customer service departments
chief commercial officerCCOResponsible for commercial strategy and development
chief communications officerCCOResponsible for communications to employees, shareholders, media, bloggers, influencers, the press, the community, and the public. Practical application of communication studies
chief compliance officerCCOResponsible for overseeing and managing regulatory compliance.
chief content officerCCOResponsible for developing and commissioning content for broadcasting channels and multimedia exploitation
chief creative officerCCOIn one sense of the term, responsible for the overall look and feel of marketing, media, and branding. In another sense, similar to chief design officer.
chief customer officerCCOResponsible for customer relationship management
chief development officerCDOResponsible for activities developing the business, usually through added products, added clients, markets or segments
chief data officerCDOResponsible for enterprise-wide governance and utilization of information and data as assets, via data processing, data analysis, data mining, information trading, and other means
chief design officerCDOResponsible for overseeing all design aspects of a company's products and services, including product design, graphic design, user experience design, industrial design, and package design, and possibly aspects of advertising, marketing, and engineering
chief digital officerCDOResponsible for adoption of digital technologies, digital consumer experiences, the process of digital transformation, and devising and executing social strategies
chief diversity officerCDOResponsible for diversity and inclusion, including diversity training and equal employment opportunity
chief engineering officerCEngOSimilar to the more common chief technology officer (CTO); responsible for technology/product R & D and manufacturing issues in a technology company, oversees the development of technology being commercialized
chief executive officerCEOResponsible for the overall vision and direction of an organization, making the final decisions over all of the corporation's operations. The highest-ranking management officer; often also the chairman of the board. Usually called CEO in the United States, chief executive or managing director in the United Kingdom, Commonwealth of Nations, and some other countries.
chief experience officerCXOResponsible for user experience, overseeing user experience design and user interface design. CXO is not to be confused with CxO, a term commonly used when referring to any one of various chief officers.
chief financial officerCFOResponsible for all aspects of finances
chief gaming officerCGOResponsible for both the game development and the online/offline publishing functions of a company that makes video games
chief human resources officerCHROResponsible for all aspects of human resource management and industrial relations
chief information officerCIOResponsible for IT, particularly in IT companies or companies that rely heavily on an IT infrastructure
chief information security officerCISOResponsible for information security
chief innovation officerCINOResponsible for innovation
chief investment officerCIOResponsible for investment and for the asset liability management (ALM) of typical large financial institutions such as insurers, banks and/or pension funds
chief information technology officerCITOResponsible for information technology. Often equivalent to chief information officer (CIO) and, in a company that sells IT, chief technology officer (CTO).
chief knowledge officerCKOResponsible for managing intellectual capital and knowledge management
chief legal officerCLOResponsible for overseeing and identifying legal issues in all departments and their interrelation, as well as corporate governance and business policy. Often called general counsel (GC) or chief counsel.
chief learning officerCLOResponsible for learning and training
chief marketing officerCMOResponsible for marketing; job may include sales management, product development, distribution channel management, marketing communications (including advertising and promotions), pricing, market research, and customer service.
chief medical officerCMOResponsible for scientific and medical excellence, especially in pharmaceutical companies, health systems, hospitals, and integrated provider networks. The title is used in many countries for the senior government official who advises on matters of public health importance. In the latter sense compare also chief dental officer.
chief networking officerCNOResponsible for social capital within the company and between the company and its partners
chief nursing officerCNOResponsible for nursing
chief operating officerCOOResponsible for business operations, including operations management, operations research, and (when applicable) manufacturing operations; role is highly contingent and situational, changing from company to company and even from a CEO to their successor within the same company. Often called "director of operations" in the nonprofit sector.
chief privacy officerCPOResponsible for all the privacy of the data in an organization, including privacy policy enforcement
chief process officerCPOResponsible for business processes and applied process theory, defining rules, policies, and guidelines to ensure that the main objectives follow the company strategy as well as establishing control mechanisms
chief procurement officerCPOResponsible for procurement, sourcing goods and services and negotiating prices and contracts
chief product officerCPOResponsible for all product-related matters. The CPO is to the business's product what the CTO is to technology. The responsibilities of the CPO are inclusive of product vision, product strategy, user experience, product design, product development, and product marketing.
chief quality officerCQOResponsible for quality and quality assurance, setting up quality goals and ensuring that those goals continue to be met over time
chief research and development officerCRDOResponsible for research and development
chief research officerCROResponsible for research
chief revenue officerCROResponsible for measuring and maximizing revenue
chief risk officerCROResponsible for risk management, ensuring that risk is avoided, controlled, accepted, or transferred and that opportunities are not missed. Sometimes called chief risk management officer (CRMO).
chief system engineer CSE Responsible for the whole system specification, validation, and verification in development processess. Usually using as the manager of other sub-system engineers.
chief sales officerCSOResponsible for sales
chief science officerCSOResponsible for science, usually applied science, including research and development and new technologies Sometimes called chief scientist.
chief security officerCSOResponsible for security, including physical security and network security
chief solutions officerCSOResponsible for the development and delivery of reliable and innovative business and technology solutions
chief strategy officerCSOResponsible for strategy, usually business strategy, including strategic planning and strategic management. Assists the chief executive officer with developing, communicating, executing, and sustaining strategy. Sometimes called chief strategic planning officer (CSPO).
chief sustainability officerCSOResponsible for environmental/sustainability programs.
chief technology officerCTOResponsible for technology and research and development, overseeing the development of technology to be commercialized. (For an information technology company, the subject matter would be similar to the CIO's; however, the CTO's focus is technology for the firm to sell versus technology used for facilitating the firm's own operations.). Sometimes called chief technical officer.
chief value officerCVOEnsure that all programs, actions, new products, services and investments create and capture customer value.
chief visionary officerCVOResponsible for defining corporate vision, business strategy, and working plans
chief web officerCWOResponsible for the web presence of the company and usually for the entire online presence, including intranet and Internet (web, mobile apps, other)

Middle management

  • Supervisor
  • Foreman
  • General manager or GM
  • Manager
  • Of Counsel – A lawyer working on a part-time or temporary basis for a company or law firm.
  • Vice president – Middle or upper manager in a corporation. They often appear in various hierarchical layers such as executive vice president, senior vice president, associate vice president, or assistant vice president, with EVP usually considered the highest and usually reporting to the CEO or president. Many times, corporate officers such as the CFO, COO, CIO, CTO, secretary, or treasurer will concurrently hold vice president titles, commonly EVP or SVP. Vice presidents in small companies are also referred to as chiefs of a certain division, such as vice president for finance, or vice president for administration. Note that in some financial contexts, the title of vice president is actually subordinate to a director.

See also


  1. Dominus, Susan (2012-10-03). "Ina Drew, Jamie Dimon and JPMorgan Chase's $6 Billion Mistake". The New York Times.
  2. "Model Business Corporation Act" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 October 2012. Retrieved 19 August 2013.
  3. "Delaware General Corporation Law § 158". Retrieved 19 December 2013. Every holder of stock represented by certificates shall be entitled to have a certificate signed by, or in the name of the corporation by the chairperson or vice-chairperson of the board of directors, or the president or vice-president, and by the treasurer or an assistant treasurer, or the secretary or an assistant secretary of such corporation representing the number of shares registered in certificate form.
  4. "California Corporations Code § 312". Archived from the original on 13 November 2012. Retrieved 19 December 2013. A corporation shall have a chairman of the board or a president or both, a secretary, a chief financial officer, and such other officers with such titles and duties as shall be stated in the bylaws or determined by the board and as may be necessary to enable it to sign instruments and share certificates.
  5. Lawrence, George. "Does an LLC Have to Have a President or CEO?". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 20 August 2013.
  6. Lowe, Keith. "The Relevance of Employee Titles". Retrieved 20 August 2013.
  7. "What is MANAGING DIRECTOR?". The Law Dictionary. Retrieved 20 August 2013.
  8. "The Powers of a Managing Director". Jordans. Retrieved 20 August 2013.
  9. Arthur Murray Whitehill (1991). Japanese management: tradition and transition. Taylor & Francis. p. 113. ISBN 978-0-415-02253-8.
  10. Rochelle Kopp (2000). The rice-paper ceiling: breaking through Japanese corporate culture. Stone Bridge Press, Inc. p. 172. ISBN 978-1-880656-51-8.
  11. Yamaguchi, Katsuyuki; Dohi, Shinji. "Corporate governance and directors' duties in Japan: overview". Thompson Reuters Practical Law. Thompson Reuters.
  12. William Lazer and Midori Rynn (1990). "Japan". In Vishnu H. Kirpalani (ed.). International business handbook. Haworth series in international business. 1. Routledge. p. 361. ISBN 978-0-86656-862-3.
  13. John C. Condon (1984). With respect to the Japanese: a guide for Americans. Country orientation series. 4. Intercultural Press. p. 86. ISBN 978-0-933662-49-0.
  14. Ezra F. Vogel (1975). Modern Japanese organization and decision-making. University of California Press. pp. 135, 137. ISBN 978-0-520-02857-9.
  15. "執行役/執行役員 Operating Officer". Nomura Research Institute. Archived from the original on 22 July 2012. Retrieved 20 August 2013.
  16. Suzuki, Kengo. "執行役と執行役員の異同". Archived from the original on 20 August 2013. Retrieved 20 August 2013.
  17. Wilson, Harry; Farrell, Sean; Aldrick, Philip (2010-09-22). "HSBC investors against Michael Geoghegan becoming chairman". Telegraph. London. Retrieved 2011-12-31.
  18. "HSBC chief Michael Geoghegan 'to quit' after failing to get top job". 2010-09-24. Retrieved 2011-12-31.
  19. Reece, Damian (2010-12-20). "HSBC ex-chief Michael Geoghegan relaxes as another marathon looms". Telegraph. London. Retrieved 2011-12-31.
  20. Welsh, James (2003-01-29). "Ted Turner quits as AOLTW Vice Chairman". Digital Spy. Retrieved 2011-12-31.
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