Hierarchy of Corporate Titles

by Alan Li; Updated September 26, 2017
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If you are new to the corporate world, you may not understand the corporate hierarchy, organizational structure and individual job titles. Most corporations operate with a board of directors, an executive team and a management team. The individual members of the management team each oversee a specific department, supervisors, team leads and employees in its day-to-day operations. The hierarchical structure helps to define job responsibilities and functions within the corporation.

Board of Directors

A company's board of directors sits at the pinnacle of the corporate structure. It usually meets quarterly to make top-level decisions needed to run the company. The board typically consists of members elected by the corporation's shareholders or founders. The chief executive officer of the company usually has a seat on the board of directors and is responsible for overseeing the company's operations. In some organizations, the CEO may be called the chief operations officer instead. It all depends on the company's internal structure.

Executive Team

The company's executive team generally reports to the CEO or COO. Each officer oversees a specific area of the company as their title depicts. Officer titles include chief financial officer, chief marketing officer, chief information officer, chief compliance officer, chief human resources officer, chief knowledge officer and more. Corporate titles vary from company to company based on the board's assignation and the company's structure.

Vice-Presidents and Other Officers

Different corporations use different corporate hierarchies, and there is no actual rule on what each successive tier must be named. In general, vice presidents lie either directly beneath the CEO or other chief officers. In smaller corporations, executive officers may also carry these titles as well. Some companies may choose a level of directors that sit below the company's officers or vice-presidents. Terms such as "senior" and "associate" might distinguish additional corporate titles, creating further distinctions within each tier. For example, a senior vice-president is ranked higher than just a vice-president.

Management Teams

Some companies may call their departmental heads managers or directors, such a director of marketing, inventory manager, warehouse director or accounting manager. This level in the corporate structure reports up the chain to the vice-president or executive team level, based on the individual company. Beneath directors or managers, you can find individual supervisors and employees. The actual workers sit below supervisors and managers. Employee designations could include senior and junior to further designate the employee's place in the company's hierarchy.

About the Author

Alan Li started writing in 2008 and has seen his work published in newsletters written for the Cecil Street Community Centre in Toronto. He is a graduate of the finance program at the University of Toronto with a Bachelor of Commerce and has additional accreditation from the Canadian Securities Institute.

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