In general, the chief executive officer (CEO) is thought of as the highest ranking officer in a company while the president is second in command. However, in corporate governance and structure, many permutations can take place, so the roles of both CEO and president may be different across various firms. For this reason it is important to have a general understanding of the corporate environment and how different positions ultimately fit into it.
First of all, the board of directors is elected by the shareholders of a company and is composed usually of both inside directors (senior officers of the company) and outside directors (individuals independent of the company). The board establishes corporate management policies and decides on "big picture" corporate issues. Because the board is in charge of executive functions, and as the CEO is responsible for integrating company policy into day-to-day operations, the CEO often (but not always) fills the role of chairman of the board.
Another factor that determines the positions of company officers is corporate structure. For example, in a corporation with many different businesses (a conglomerate), there may be one CEO who oversees a number of presidents, each running a different business of the conglomerate and reporting to the one CEO. In a company with subsidiaries, it would be unusual to have one person carry out the roles of both CEO and president.
Presidents often hold the position of chief operating officer (COO). The COO is responsible for day-to-day operations and has vice-presidents for different parts of the company reporting to him or her. Generally, the board of directors sets the policy; the president executes the policy and reports back to the board; and finally, the board reports back to the shareholders who are the ultimate owners.
A company without subsidiaries may have one person execute the roles of CEO and president (and perhaps even chairman). As such, greater communication and contact can be achieved between the board of directors, which sets policies, and the president, who oversees the day-to-day operations of the company.
Keep in mind that these are examples of general scenarios. The CEO is not always the chairman of the board, and the president is not always the COO. The ultimate goal in corporate governance is to effectively manage the relationship between owners and decision-makers and increase shareholder value.
More @ The Basics Of Corporate Structure
In General CEO is the leader of the company and director of an organization’s policies, mission, and goals.
For smaller companies, presidents to be the CEO whereas in multi national companies you can have a CEO and there are several presidents below him/her.
COOs oversee the functions and general operations of the company. Actually, this is also one of the major roles of CEOs but when the company is too large, a COO or several COOs are needed to lessen the burden. COO reports to the CEO.
He/she should be able to advise and help the CEO with the decision-making. COOs will often have to work closely with the Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Chief Information Officer (CIO), and other officers to make appropriate operational adjustments.
COO-Chief operating oficer.
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To summarize, you need to keep it simple:
Chief Executive Officer is someone who is the primary contact person that Executes the Mandate of the Shareholders / Stakeholders.
The company can then decide as to how it has to distribute from the CEO level onwards. So, the CEO has a reporting line. Typically, there are the CXOs at this level: Chief Information Officer, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Human Resource Officer, etc. While the CEO takes the overall responsibility, the subsequent layer can have different responsibilities based on the company's outlook. Hence, there is no SINGLE job description for any of these positions.