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C suite

Ali Azhar
Last Updated September 7, 2021 10:46 am

The C suite (also “c-suite” or “c-level”) refers to a collection of high-level business executives whose primary responsibilities are for the operational and financial performance of a company. Typically, these executives’ titles will include the word “chief” to make clear their role with a corporation’s structure. Four common examples of C-suite members include the CEO (chief executive officer), COO (chief operating officer), CFO (chief financial officer), and CIO (chief information officer.)

What is considered C suite?

C-level executives hold influential positions that impact company-wide decisions and strategy. These professionals typically have a long history of direct and related experience, strong strategic thinking and planning abilities, and outstanding leadership skills. A c-suite executive can be responsible for the entire business unit or departments such as finance, information technology, and marketing.

What role does the C suite play in business?

The roles of c-suite executives vary from one company to another depending on size, industry, and other factors. With smaller companies, there tend to be fewer c-suite positions with broader sets of responsibilities. Major corporations, on the other hand, may name c-level executives for a single department or operational group. At the same time, companies might have industry-specific need that requires for a c-suite-level executive. For example, healthcare companies will often have a position for the chief medical officer.

The maturity and mission of the corporation is also an important factor in determining what kinds of c-level executives are needed. A corporation that develops cutting-edge solutions might name a chief innovation officer to ensure high-level visibility and awareness of key technological advances. Too, the roles of these executives evolve with time. For example, the role of the chief information officer has evolved from being “just” a senior-level technology expert to being a business strategist who can leverage the company’s entire tech infrastructure to support the company in its mission.

What positions are part of the C suite?

Typically, positions that have “chief” in the title are considered C-suite positions. 

  • Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
  • Chief Operating Officer (COO)
  • Chief Financial Officer (CFO)
  • Chief Marketing Officer (CMO)
  • Chief Technology Officer (CTO)
  • Chief Innovation Officer or Chief Information Officer (CIO)

Most of these executives report to the CEO.

What are the roles of c-suite-level executives?

CEO: The CEO is the highest-ranking position for a company, and is typically responsible for overseeing the business’s operations and strategic decisions.

COO: The role of the COO is usually second-in-command to the CEO. The COO is responsible for the proper execution of company strategies and business plans. Typically the COO has more oversight of the company’s day-to-day operations.

CFO: As the head of the finance business unit or department, the CFO is responsible for budgeting, risk analysis, forecasting, and other finance-related matters.

CMO: The CMO is head of the marketing department overseeing the development and implementation of all marketing strategies including advertising, digital marketing, events, product positioning, and more. 

CTO: The CTO is responsible for the strategic operation and growth of the company’s technology stack, ensuring the company can meet the current and future needs of its business model.

CIO: The CIO oversees both the company’s technological infrastructure and its information assets including data and intellectual property. The CIO is charged with owning the long-range vision for the role technology (hardware, software, networks, and data) will play in the company’s operations and growth.

Where is the C suite located?

While the term could imply a single location with a building, it is more accurately used to denote the group of leading corporate executives. When someone says, “I’m making a presentation to the entire C suite this morning,” they are most likely referring to a group of people gathered in a conference room or on a Zoom call, rather than a particular location in the corporate headquarters.

Get the view on IT from within the executive suite at CIO Insight.