DirectorsA director is a senior management position responsible for the strategic and tactical management of a significant piece of the company
Directors typically manage a few subordinate managers. Within their area of responsibility they generally have wide latitude and are expected to meet broad goals. Normally they have P & L responsibility and have hiring authority within their budget.
Some larger organizations may have associate director or assistant director jobs. The individuals in such positions usually assist another director managing their area. However, the title can also be used for someone with director level responsibility, but for a small part of the organization or someone whose lack of seniority in the company doesn't justify the higher title.
The Senior Director title may be assigned to an individual responsible for a larger part of the organization. It also may be assigned to someone who has been in the job longer.
Many large organizations also use the managing director title. This is an individual who manages a substantial part of the organization. This person manages a group of other managers and/or directors. The managing director may be responsible for managing an entire region, a function across all regions, or a specific business unit. In a few organizations, like consulting firms where the director title is used by all management levels, the managing director has the same role as the company president.
Vice PresidentA Vice President is normally the second highest management level. He or she reports to the president or other top executive. The vice president may be assigned responsibility for specific functional areas or assigned to assist the president in all areas
Some larger organizations may have multiple vice presidents as described below and some very large organizations may have a level of executives above the vice president level. These are referred to as “C” level positions.
Some organizations may have associate vice president or assistant vice president titles. The individuals in these positions usually assist another vice president. However, the title can also be used for a more junior individual.
Senior Vice PresidentThe Senior Vice President title can be assigned to an individual who is responsible for a larger part of the organization. However, it is becoming commonplace for individuals at this management level to have titles such as Group Vice President, Division Vice President, Area or Region Vice President, or Executive Vice President that denote that individual’s area of responsibility.
“C” LevelIn the largest organizations, or ones that choose to copy them, there is a management level of what are called “C” level executives. These include COO, CFO, CTO, and many newer variations. The initial “C” in each of these titles stands for "chief" and it is where “C” level gets its name. The COO is the Chief Operating Officer, CFO is the Chief Financial Officer, and CTO is the Chief Technology Officer. Other titles at this management level can include Chief Marketing Officer, Chief Information Officer, Chief Sales Officer, Chief Customer Officer, etc. Technically, the CEO is part of this group, but is discussed separately below.
The individual in a “C” level job is the highest executive in that company in that functional area. All the other executives in that functional area report to the “C” level executive. For example, all of the Regional Vice Presidents of Sales would report to the CSO, Chief Sales Officer. The vice presidents of finance, treasury, and the investor relations report to the CFO.
When smaller companies copy “C” level titles, it is more for prestige than out of functional necessity. In such cases, it is common for people with lower level management titles to report to a “C” level executive. For example, a CFO’s direct reports in a small company might include the accounting manager and the payroll supervisor.
CEOThe top executive in an organization can have many titles. Sometimes it is owner, founder, or manager. It can also be managing partner or president. In the largest organizations, and more frequently in smaller ones, the title of president is being replaced by CEO, Chief Executive Officer. This is the person with overall responsibility for the entire organization. The CEO has full P&L responsibility, and is the ultimate hiring authority. Reporting to the Board of Directors, the CEO has complete discretion in day-to-day operations to meet the goals set by the board.
Bottom LineThere are many titles for individuals in senior management jobs. If your career goal is to earn one of these titles, remember that they are easier to lose than they are to attain. To keep a senior management job title, you need to produce results.