mdi-chevron-left Go Back CEO


The highest-ranking person in a company who makes major decisions and oversees the business.

Business Glossary provided by


The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) manages an organization at the highest level, making strategic decisions, managing operations and resources, and acting as the main point of communication between the board of directors and corporate operations. Their role is significant in determining the company's success or failure.

Context of Use:

The term "CEO" is widely used across all types of industries and organizations, from startups to multinational corporations. It is fundamental in discussions about corporate governance, business strategy, and leadership. The CEO plays a crucial role in setting the company’s strategy, tone, and culture, and in ensuring that the company achieves its financial and operational goals.


The primary purpose of the CEO is to provide strategic leadership and direction to the company while ensuring that the day-to-day operations align with fulfilling the company’s strategic goals. The CEO is also responsible for making executive decisions that affect the company’s direction, safeguarding the company's future in the competitive market, and ensuring its financial strength and operational efficiency.


Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors: Since taking over as CEO in 2014, Mary Barra has been pivotal in steering General Motors towards innovation in electric vehicles and autonomous driving technologies. Under her leadership, GM has committed to an all-electric future, with plans to launch multiple electric vehicle models and invest in related technologies. Barra’s role encompasses major decision-making, shaping corporate policies, and representing GM in public and corporate affairs.

Related Terms:

  • COO (Chief Operating Officer): An executive responsible for managing the company's day-to-day administrative and operational functions.

  • CFO (Chief Financial Officer): This role includes managing the company's finances, including financial planning, management of financial risks, record-keeping, and financial reporting.

  • Board of Directors: A group of individuals elected to represent shareholders and ensure that the company's leadership acts on behalf of shareholder interests.


What qualifications are typically required to become a CEO?

A: While there is no one-size-fits-all set of qualifications for becoming a CEO, common attributes include a high level of education, such as an MBA, extensive experience in the company's industry, proven leadership capabilities, and a track record of business success.

How does a CEO differ from a president or a managing director?

A: In many organizations, the CEO is the highest-ranking officer, while the president or managing director may refer to the second-in-command or to a regional leader. However, in some organizations, the terms may be interchangeable or have different meanings based

on the company’s structure.

What are the responsibilities of a CEO?

A: Responsibilities of a CEO include setting and implementing strategic goals, making high-level decisions regarding policy and strategy, overseeing the company’s fiscal activity, managing company resources, and communicating with the board, shareholders, and the public.

How is a CEO chosen?

A: CEOs are typically chosen by the company's board of directors. The process can involve a search and selection procedure influenced by a candidate’s leadership experience, industry knowledge, and strategic vision.

Can a company have more than one CEO?

A: Yes, some companies choose to have co-CEOs, where two individuals share the responsibilities and powers of the CEO role. This structure can be beneficial for balancing extensive duties, especially in complex industries or large multinational corporations.

View Glossary Writing a Business Plan?

Starting or Running a Business?

Generate a business plan in minutes.

Get Started
Business Owner