How CEOs Work

Corporate Structure: Company Management Ladder


­­Part of a board of directors' responsibilities of overseeing management is electing a chief executive officer (CEO). From that point, the similarities among most companies end -- each typically has its own unique management structure. Sometimes, a company will have a president, which may or may not be the same person as the CEO. If the CEO and the president aren't the same person, the president's rank is just below the CEO. Another important figure who may be under the CEO is the chief operations officer (COO). The person in this position is closer to the detailed operations and goings-on of business. Although the COO doesn't set the company strategy like the CEO does, he or she does make sure that strategy is getting carried out by upper management. A similar position is that of the chief finance officer (CFO), who, like you might expect, is in charge of the company's financial matters. The CFO's primary responsibility is interpreting financial situations and reporting them to the CEO and the board, as well as making the information available to shareholders. If necessary, a CEO can also hire various vice presidents for different departments in the company.

The different theories on how best to organize and run a large corporation have allowed the subject to blossom into its own field of study known as corporate governance. Under this subject, researchers inspect such things as how many inside or outside directors should make up a board, or the best balance of powers between the board and the CEO.

Next, let's focus in on the CEO.