Corporate title

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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 in publicly and privately held for-profit corporations. In addition, many non-profit organizations, educational institutions, partnerships, and sole proprietorships also confer corporate titles.

The highest-level executives in senior management usually have titles beginning with "chief" and are therefore usually called "C-level" or part of the "C-suite". The traditional three such officers are chief executive officer (CEO), chief operations officer (COO), and chief financial officer (CFO). Depending on the management structure, C-titles may exist instead of or are 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 C-level positions have emerged, some of which are sector-specific. For example, CEO 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 chief information officer (CIO) oversees IT (information technology) 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 chief marketing officer (CMO), particularly mature companies in competitive sectors, where brand management is a high priority. In creative/design industries, there is sometimes a chief creative officer (CCO), responsible for keeping the overall look and feel of different products consistent across a brand. 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/or lower-ranking C-level titles (see below) are not universally recognized as corporate officers, and they tend to be specific to particular organizational cultures or the preferences of employees.


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 CEO as the top-ranking executive, while the number two is the president and COO; other companies have a president and CEO but no official deputy. Typically, C-level managers are "higher" than vice presidents, although many times a C-level officer may also hold a vice president title, such as executive vice president and 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. If organized as a division then the top manager is often known as an executive vice president (for example, Todd Bradley, who heads the Personal Systems Group in Hewlett Packard). If that business is a subsidiary which has considerably more independence, then the title might be chairman and CEO (for example, Philip I. Kent of Turner Broadcasting System in Time Warner).

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/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), composed of the division/subsidiary heads and C-level officers that report directly to the CEO.

United States[edit]

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]

LLC-structured companies are generally run directly by their members (shareholders), 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 chief executive officer (CEO). In some companies, the CEO also has the title of president. In other companies, the president is responsible for internal management of the company while the CEO is responsible for external relations. Many companies also have a chief financial officer (CFO), chief operating officer (COO) and other "C-level" positions that report to the president and CEO. The next level of middle management may be called vice president, director or manager, depending on the company.[6]

Britain and Commonwealth[edit]

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[edit]

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, as the South Korean corporate structure had been influenced by the Japanese model.[11]

Legally, Japanese and Korean companies are only required to have a board of directors with at least one representative director. In Japanese, a company director is called a torishimariyaku (取締役) and the 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 a supervisory role.

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

English glossKanji (hanja)JapaneseKoreanComments
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
At Korean family-owned chaebol companies such as Samsung, the vice-chairman commonly holds the CEO title (i.e., Vice Chairman & CEO).
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
Reports to the president
Executive vice president
or executive director
Senior vice president
or managing director
Vice president
or general manager
or department head
Highest non-executive title; denotes a head of a division/department. There is significant variation in the official English translation used by different companies.
Deputy general manager次長JichoChajang
Direct subordinate to bucho/bujang
or section head
Denotes a head of a team/section underneath a larger division/department.
Assistant manager
or team leader
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 C-level 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 chief financial officer 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]

Corporate titles[edit]

"C-level" titles[edit]

Senior management[edit]

Middle management[edit]

Exempt and non-exempt[edit]

Other corporate employee classifications, in US organizations, include:


Most modern corporations also have non-employee workers. These are usually 'temps' (temporary workers) or consultants who, depending on the project and their experience, might be brought on to lead a task for which the skill-set did not exist within the company, or in the case of a temp, in the vernacular sense, to perform busy-work or an otherwise low-skilled repetitive task for which an employee is deemed too valuable to perform.

Non-employees generally are employed by outside agencies or firms, but perform their duties within a corporation or similar entity. They do not have the same benefits as employees of that company, such as pay-grades, health insurance, or sick days.

Some high-skilled consultants, however, may garner some benefits such as a bonus, sick leave, or food and travel expenses, since they usually charge a high flat-fee for their services, or otherwise garner high hourly wages. An example of high-skilled consultants include lawyers, lobbyists, and accountants who may not be employed by a corporation, but have their own firms or practices. Most temps, however, are compensated strictly for the hours they work, and are generally non-exempt.

See also[edit]


  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". 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". 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. ^ Meg Ulrich. "Businesstips". Business in Asia. Retrieved 2013-11-21. 
  12. ^ a b William Lazer and Midori Rynn (1990). "Japan". In Vishnu H. Kirpalani. International business handbook. Haworth series in international business 1. Routledge. p. 361. ISBN 978-0-86656-862-3. 
  13. ^ a b 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. Retrieved 20 August 2013. 
  16. ^ Suzuki, Kengo. "執行役と執行役員の異同". Retrieved 20 August 2013. 
  17. ^ "Jim Highsmith at Agile Australia - advice for managers". September 2010. 
  18. ^ "Top Business Development Executive Salaries". 
  19. ^ a b Miles, Stephen A.; Bennett, Nathan (2006), "Second in Command: The Misunderstood Role of the Chief Operating Officer", Harvard Business Review 84 (5): 70–79, retrieved 2011-02-08 
  20. ^ Mader, Steve (March 22, 2006), "The changing role of the COO: are you grappling with how best to utilize the chief operating officer function? You're not alone", Directors and Boards, retrieved 2011-02-08 
  21. ^ Gerut, Amanda (August 9, 2010), "COOs: A Vanishing Breed", Agenda, retrieved 2011-02-08 
  22. ^ Wilson, Harry; Farrell, Sean; Aldrick, Philip (2010-09-22). "HSBC investors against Michael Geoghegan becoming chairman". London: Telegraph. Retrieved 2011-12-31. 
  23. ^ "HSBC chief Michael Geoghegan 'to quit' after failing to get top job". 2010-09-24. Retrieved 2011-12-31. 
  24. ^ Reece, Damian (2010-12-20). "HSBC ex-chief Michael Geoghegan relaxes as another marathon looms". London: Telegraph. Retrieved 2011-12-31. 
  25. ^ "Dual Ladder Career Path at Sun (Whiteboard infinity)". 2005-12-15. Retrieved 2011-12-31. 
  26. ^ "Principal Engineer—ASCE Definition of Classification". Retrieved 2013-11-21. 
  27. ^ Welsh, James (2003-01-29). "Ted Turner quits as AOLTW Vice Chairman". Digital Spy. Retrieved 2011-12-31. 

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