C-Suite executives-CEO, CFO, COO, CTO, CKO, CRO and CIO

18/12/2020 1 By indiafreenotes


A CEO, which stands for Chief Executive Officer, is the highest-ranking individual in a company or organization. The CEO is responsible for the overall success of a business entity or other organization and for making top-level managerial decisions. They may ask for input on major decisions, but they are the ultimate authority in making final decisions. There are other titles for CEOs, such as chief executive, president, and managing director.

Roles and Responsibilities of the CEO

In addition to the overall success of an organization or company, the CEO is responsible for leading the development and execution of long-term strategies, with the goal of increasing shareholder value.

The roles and responsibilities of a CEO vary from one company to another, often depending on the organizational structure and/or size of the company. In smaller companies, the CEO takes on a more “hands-on role”, such as making lower-level business decisions (e.g., hiring of staff). In larger companies, he or she usually only deals with high-level corporate strategy and major company decisions. Other tasks are delegated to managers or departments.

There is no standardized list of the roles and responsibilities of a chief executive officer. The typical duties, responsibilities, and job description of a CEO include:

  • Communicating, on behalf of the company, with shareholders, government entities, and the public
  • Leading the development of the company’s short- and long-term strategy
  • Creating and implementing the company or organization’s vision and mission
  • Evaluating the work of other executive leaders within the company, including directors, vice presidents, and presidents
  • Maintaining awareness of the competitive market landscape, expansion opportunities, industry developments, etc.
  • Ensuring that the company maintains high social responsibility wherever it does business
  • Assessing risks to the company and ensuring they are monitored and minimized
  • Setting strategic goals and making sure they are measurable and describable.

Responsibilities of Chief Executive Officer

There is no standardized list of the major functions and responsibilities carried out by position of chief executive officer. The following list is one perspective and includes the major functions typically addressed by job descriptions of chief executive officers.

  1. Board Administration and Support

Supports operations and administration of Board by advising and informing Board members, interfacing between Board and staff, and supporting Board’s evaluation of chief executive

  1. Program, Product and Service Delivery

Oversees design, marketing, promotion, delivery and quality of programs, products and services

  1. Financial, Tax, Risk and Facilities Management

Recommends yearly budget for Board approval and prudently manages organization’s resources within those budget guidelines according to current laws and regulations

  1. Human Resource Management

Effectively manages the human resources of the organization according to authorized personnel policies and procedures that fully conform to current laws and regulations

  1. Community and Public Relations

Assures the organization and its mission, programs, products and services are consistently presented in strong, positive image to relevant stakeholders

  1. Fundraising (nonprofit-specific)

Oversees fundraising planning and implementation, including identifying resource requirements, researching funding sources, establishing strategies to approach funders, submitting proposals and administrating fundraising records and documentation.


The primary job responsibility of the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) is to optimize the financial performance of a company, including its reporting, liquidity, and return on investment. This guide will answer the question of, “What does a CFO do?”

Within a company, these responsibilities fall into departments typically known as the controller’s group, treasury, and financial planning and analysis (FP&A).



Reporting takes up a lot of a CFO’s time, and this responsibility typically resides in the Controller’s group.  This team of professionals prepares all of the company’s historical financial reports required for shareholders, employees, lenders, research analysts, governments, and regulatory bodies.  This group is responsible for ensuring all reporting is prepared in an accurate and timely manner.


The CFO needs to ensure the company is able to meet its financial commitments and manage cash flow in the most efficient way.  These responsibilities are usually carried out by the treasury group, which is often smaller than the reporting team.  This group is tasked with managing the company’s cash balance and working capital, such as accounts payable, accounts receivable, and inventory.  They also carry out the issuing of any debt, managing investments, and handle other liquidity-related decisions.

Return on Investment

The third thing a CFO does is help earn the company earn the highest possible risk-adjusted return on assets and return on capital (or return on equity).  This is where the financial planning and analysis FP&A team comes in to help the CFO forecast future cash flow of the business and then compare actual results to what was budgeted.  The FP&A team plays a critical role in analytics and decision making in the business.

If the company has a corporate development team, they also play a big part in creating (or attempting to create) optimal investment returns for the business.


A chief operating officer (COO), also called a chief operations officer, is one of the highest-ranking executive positions in an organization, comprising part of the “C-suite”. The COO is usually the second-in-command at the firm, especially if the highest-ranking executive is the chairperson and CEO. The COO is responsible for the daily operation of the company and its office building and routinely reports to the highest-ranking executive usually the chief executive officer (CEO).

Responsibilities and similar titles

Unlike other C-suite positions, which tend to be defined according to commonly designated responsibilities across most companies, a COO’s job tends to be defined in relation to the specific CEO with whom they work, given the close working relationship of these two individuals.

The selection of a COO is similar in many ways to the selection of a vice president or chief of staff of the United States: power and responsibility structures vary in government and private regimes depending on the style and needs of the president or CEO. Thus, the COO role meets individual expectations and changes as leadership teams adjust.

The COO position is common in firms that are operationally intensive, such as airline and automotive industries.

Despite the functional diversity associated with the role of COO, there are some common functions the COOs usually perform:

  • At the direction of the CEO and board of directors, marshalling limited resources to the most productive uses with the aim of creating maximum value for the company’s stakeholders
  • Developing and cascading the organization’s strategy/mission statement to the lower-ranking staff, and implementing appropriate rewards/recognition and coaching or corrective practices to align personnel with company goals
  • Planning by prioritizing customer, employee, and organizational requirements
  • Maintaining and monitoring staffing, levels, knowledge-skills-attributes (KSA), expectations and motivation to fulfil organizational requirements
  • Driving performance measures for the operation (including a consideration of efficiency versus effectiveness), often in the form of dashboards convenient for review of high-level key indicators


A chief technical officer (CTO), sometimes known as a chief technology officer or chief technologist, is an executive-level position in a company or other entity whose occupation is focused on the scientific and technological issues within an organization.

A CTO is very similar to a chief information officer (CIO). CTOs will make decisions for the overarching technology infrastructure that closely align with the organization’s goals, while CIOs work alongside the organization’s IT staff members to perform everyday operations. A CTO should be aware of new and existing technologies to guide the company’s future endeavors. The attributes of the roles a CTO holds vary from one company to the next, mainly depending on their organizational structure.

The CTO may be called a product manager with the primary goal of managing a tech team and making business critical tech decisions, such as tech design planning, product architecture layout, and development platform selection.

A Chief Technology Officer job description could also include some practical aspects if a tech team doesn’t have the knowledge or resources to complete a task, then it is down to the CTO to find a solution. It’s no wonder they have to obtain a wide variety of tech and ‘soft’ skills.

CTO as a service is one more approach that is gaining momentum in 2020. Just as engineering task execution, tech supervision, and management have been outsourced to save project budget costs.


A chief knowledge officer (CKO) is a loosely defined role in some organizations that achieved some prominence during the 1990s and 2000s that supervises knowledge management. In general, their duties involve intellectual capital and organizing preservation and distribution of knowledge in an organization. The position sometimes overlaps with the title of “chief information officer”; CIOs tend to be more focused on information technology within an organization (computer systems and the like), while CKOs have more nebulous portfolios including matters such as overseeing patent applications, internal training and documentation, knowledge sharing, and promoting innovative research.

CKOs are frequently directly appointed by the CEO given their broad domains, since their responsibilities generally cut across organizational boundaries. As a result, exactly what a CKO works on can vary greatly from organization to organization.

By the 2010s, the role became less common; while knowledge management programs are still an important part of corporations and other organizations, a direct officer called Chief Knowledge Officer has fallen out of favor somewhat.

CKO can help an organization to:

  • Maximize the return on investment (ROI) in knowledge.
  • Maximize benefits from intangible assets, such as branding and customer relationships.
  • Repeat successes and analyze and learn from failures.
  • Promote best practices.
  • Foster innovation.
  • Avoid the loss of knowledge that can result from loss of personnel.


A chief risk officer is a corporate executive responsible for identifying, analyzing, and mitigating internal and external risks. The chief risk officer works to ensure that the company complies with government regulations, such as Sarbanes-Oxley, and reviews factors that could hurt investments or a company’s business units.

CROs typically have post-graduate education with more than 20 years of experience in accounting, economics, legal, or actuarial backgrounds. They are also referred to as chief risk management officers (CRMO).

The chief risk officer (CRO) or chief risk management officer (CRMO) of a firm or corporation is the executive accountable for enabling the efficient and effective governance of significant risks, and related opportunities, to a business and its various segments. Risks are commonly categorized as strategic, reputational, operational, financial, or compliance-related. CROs are accountable to the Executive Committee and The Board for enabling the business to balance risk and reward. In more complex organizations, they are generally responsible for coordinating the organization’s Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) approach. The CRO is responsible for assessing and mitigating significant competitive, regulatory, and technological threats to a firm’s capital and earnings. The CRO roles and responsibilities vary depending on the size of the organization and industry. The CRO works to ensure that the firm is compliant with government regulations, such as Sarbanes-Oxley, and reviews factors that could negatively affect investments. Typically, the CRO is responsible for the firm’s risk management operations, including managing, identifying, evaluating, reporting and overseeing the firm’s risks externally and internally to the organization and works diligently with senior management such as Chief Executive officer and Chief Financial Officer.

The role of the Chief Risk Officer (CRO) is becoming increasing important in financial, investment, and insurance sectors. According to Watson, the majority of CROs agreed that having only exceptional analytical skill is not sufficient. The most successful CROs are able to combine these skills with highly developed commercial, strategic, leadership and communication skill to be able to drive change and make a difference in an organization. CROs typically have post graduate education with over 20 years of experience in accounting, economics, legal or actuarial backgrounds. A business may find a risk acceptable; however, the company as a whole may not. CROs need to balance risks with financial, investment, insurance, personnel and inventory decisions to obtain an optimum level for stakeholders. According to a study by Morgan McKinley, a successful CRO must be able to deal with complexity and ambiguity, and understand the bigger picture.

The types of threats the CRO usually keeps watch for can be grouped into regulatory, competitive, and technical categories. As noted, companies must ensure they are in compliance with regulatory rules and fulfilling their obligations on reporting accurately to government agencies.

CROs must also check for procedural issues within their companies that may create exposure to a threat or liability. For example, if a company handles sensitive data from a third party, such as personal health information, there may be layers of security that the company is required to maintain to ensure that data is kept confidential. If there are lapses in that security such as when an employee allows an unauthorized person, even within the company, to have access to a company computer that contains such data it can be a form of exposure that a CRO must address. Unauthorized access to sensitive data may also constitute a competitive risk if there is the potential for rival organizations to use such information to take away clients or otherwise damage the public image of the company.


Chief information officer (CIO) is an executive job title commonly given to the person at an enterprise in charge of information technology (IT) strategy and the computer systems required to support the organization’s unique objectives and goals.

Chief information officer (CIO), chief digital information officer (CDIO) or information technology (IT) director, is a job title commonly given to the most senior executive in an enterprise who works with information technology and computer systems, in order to support enterprise goals.

Typically, the CIO reports directly to the chief executive officer, but may also report to the chief operating officer or chief financial officer. In military organisations, the CIO reports to the commanding officer. The role of chief information officer was first defined in 1981 by William R. Synnott, former senior vice president of the Bank of Boston, and William H. Gruber, a former professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management. A CIO will sometimes serve as a member of the board of directors.

Roles and responsibilities

The chief information officer of an organization is responsible for several business functions. First and most importantly, the CIO must fulfill the role of a business leader. The CIO makes executive decisions regarding matters such as the purchase of IT equipment from suppliers or the creation of new IT systems. Also, as a business leader, the CIO is responsible for leading and directing the workforce of their specific organization. A CIO is typically “required to have strong organizational skills.” This is particularly relevant for the chief information officer of an organization who must balance roles and responsibilities in order to gain a competitive advantage, whilst keeping the best interests of the organisation’s employees in mind. CIOs also have the responsibility of recruiting, so it is important that they work proactively to source and nurture the best employees possible.

The CIO reports to the chief executive officer (CEO) and at some companies the CIO has a seat on the executive board. CIOs work closely with their IT staff and recent studies show there is a benefit in strengthening the CIO-CMO (chief marketing officer) relationship. According to IBM’s Global C-suite Study, which was published in 2014, companies at which the CEO, CIO and CMO work more closely together than with other C-level executives tend to outperform competitors. The CIO also has a close relationship with the chief financial officer (CFO). In fact, that’s the strongest relationship between CIOs and other C-level execs, according to IBM. After the CFO, the CIO has close relationships with the CEO, CMO, chief supply chain officer (CSCO) and the chief human resources officer (CHRO).