Definition C-Level

C-Level refers to the management positions at the top level of a company’s organizational chart. The C stands for the “executive floor”, so to speak. This is derived from the corresponding English-language job titles, which each have the “Chief” at the beginning, marking the highest rank. The most common titles of this type are CEO, CFO, COO, CMO and CTO. It should be noted that depending on the language area, industry and company, there are sometimes large variations in the definition of these positions.

Since these so-called C-level positions are crucial to the success of the company, filling them is extremely sensitive. Therefore, only candidates who prove themselves to be excellent will ultimately be offered a position in C-level management.

What are the C-levels?

Most often, C-level positions are filled with the following:

  • CEO: Chief Executive Officer – He is the managing director/board member who is responsible for the big picture and to whom the other C-Levels report.
  • CFO: Chief Financial Officer – This is the abbreviation for the Chief Financial Officer. The executive in this position has oversight of finances and accounting.
  • COO: Chief Operating Officer – This is responsible for operations. So, for example, he takes care of the flow of production, etc.
  • CMO: Chief Marketing Officer – This person manages marketing, sales and distribution.
  • CTO: Chief Technical Officer – He belongs to the executive level and is responsible for implementing and driving the management’s vision in all technical aspects of the company.
  • CIO: Chief Information Officer – This is responsible for the strategic and operational management of information technology (IT).
  • CSO: Chief Sales Officer (sometimes also: CRO – Chief Revenue Officer) – This employee is responsible for all issues relating to revenue.
  • CDO: Chief Digital Officer (formerly also Chief Data Officer) – In this position, one takes care of the digital transformation of the company. This abbreviation can also stand for Chief Design Officer or Chief Diversity Officer.

Other C-level positions

Of course, these are just a few of the most important positions. Moreover, depending on the size of the company (and the creativity of the management level), there can be many more leadership positions. In addition, the industry plays a role. Because this can result in specific requirements of other C-level positions. So here is a list of other possible job titles:

  • CAA Chief: Applications Architect
  • CAO Chief: Academic Officer
  • CAO Chief Accounting Officer / Chief Analytics Officer / Chief Administrative Officer
  • CBO Chief Business Officer
  • CCO Chief Compliance Officer / Chief Contracting Officer / Chief Commercial Officer / Chief Communications Officer
  • CECPO Chief Ethics, Compliance and Policy Officers
  • CKO Chief Knowledge Officer
  • CISO Chief Information Security Officer
  • CITO Chief Information Technology Officer
  • CLO Chief Legal Officer
  • CPO Chief Procurement Officer / Chief Product Officer
  • CPIO Chief Process and Innovation Officer
  • CRO Chief Risk Officer / Chief Restructuring Officer
  • CUO Chief Underwriting Officer
  • CVO Chief Visionary Officer
  • and CXO: Chief Experience Officer

In the US, the Chief Happiness Officer (CHO) has recently been introduced. The CHO’s job is to make employees happy.

C-Level in Sales and Distribution

The CSO – Chief Sales Officer – is also referred to as the Chief Sales Officer. Since he manages all strategic and operational sales activities, his success is measured by the overall revenue of the company. And typically he has the following departments under him:

  • Presales
  • Sales Operations
  • Sales
  • Customer Success
  • Account Management
  • Customer Service

In the majority of cases, C-Level prospects are being contacted by Sales Development Representatives (SDRs) in their initial contact.

What is the C-Suite?

C-Suite is simply another term for the top hierarchical level of a company and can be used synonymously with C-Level. And also the term CxO is seen more and more as an alternative.

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