C-suite - What is c-suite?

C-suite is a collective term used to refer to the C-level (senior executive) positions in a company, notably those that begin with ‘Chief’.

Create invoices for free with SumUp Invoices.

The C-suite members of a business are its top executives. Traditionally, (though not always in practice), they’re the most experienced individuals with the largest amount of responsibility across a company.

They are leadership positions that require a high-level set of skills, from management to strategy - both ‘soft skills’ as well as more traditional decision-making and functional skills expected of an individual in a senior position.

Which positions are part of C-suite?

The main roles that come up when discussing C-Suite include CEO, CMO and COO...but there are in fact a full array of different C-level positions, such as:

  • CTO: Chief Technology Officer

  • CFO: Chief Financial Officer

  • CSO: Chief Sales Officer

  • CIO: Chief Information Officer

  • CHRM: Chief Human Resources Manager

To better understand what these roles involve and the amount of responsibility that they require an individual to undertake, we’ll take a closer look at three of the main ones: CEO, CMO, COO.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) role

The highest rung on the corporate ladder, the CEO is a position that many dream of attaining. While it typically comes with a more generous paycheck and other benefits, it ultimately takes on the majority of responsibility for the success of the business.

A CEO must possess excellent communication skills and be constantly working to facilitate internal collaboration and development while also being the public face of the company. They are instrumental in determining the company strategy, meaning they must also have a thorough understanding of its strengths & weaknesses.

The CEO is also responsible for managing the individuals in the other C-suite roles, who report to them directly.

Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) role

A CMO is responsible for all of the marketing activities of a business. This ranges from branding to advertising and social media. A CMO will generally also contribute significantly to product development due to their involvement in customer engagement and retention.

A CMO will be involved in both paid and organic marketing when it comes to online marketing, which has gained importance with advances in technology and the reach of websites and an online presence.

Many businesses have combined the CMO role with the duties of the Chief Sales Officer role mainly due to the blurring of lines between the two roles due to the rise of e-commerce. A new role: Chief Commercial Officer has appeared to better define these responsibilities.

Chief Operating Officer (COO) role

The COO manages the business relationships of a company. This role can vary depending on the industry, but typically they are responsible for the human resources department - overseeing duties including hiring, training, payroll, and administrative tasks, for example.

The role of the COO is crucial for the smooth daily operations of a company. They’re typically second after the CEO on the corporate ladder and report directly.

How does one become part of C-suite?

Traditionally, in a corporate environment, an individual could “work his/her way up the ladder”. The corporate ladder would allow employees to progress in their career track from entry-level to more senior-level positions. This is still common for many businesses, especially larger, well-established corporations.

While there are other paths that lead to a C-level position, the requirements remain the same. Essentially, an individual must have extensive experience in their field, a proven track record of positive results, and demonstrate the necessary skills for such a high-level role.

Recommendations for gaining experience that could eventually contribute to the right skills for a C-level position include: finding a mentor, pursuing entrepreneurial aims, and acting as a consultant.

Do small businesses need C-suite roles?

For businesses just starting out, defining C-level roles is not immediately necessary. Unless they receive a large investment of capital to facilitate the hiring and organisation needed for exponential growth, of course.

Often, a C-suite system will evolve naturally as a company grows and more employees are hired. C-level positions are associated with larger corporations for this reason - it allows for structuring that clearly identifies who is responsible for what within a business.