• Leader

Chief executive officer

Job profile:

Advisory and consultancy

Career zone:

The transformation driver

Area of expertise

Advisory and consultancy

What is a chief executive officer and what do they do?

A CEO is the highest-ranking individual within an organisation, and has responsibility for the results, performance and success of the company. They will determine the vision and direction of the business, as well as developing and implementing long-term strategies with the aim of increasing shareholder value.

The CEO is the top operational decision-maker and will oversee all departments within the organisation, ensuring that each of these business areas is operating efficiently and effectively, and that targets are being met. The role provides inspirational leadership to the executive team and to the wider business, and sets the overall company culture.

The CEO reports is accountable to the board of directors. Occasionally the post-holder may sometimes also be the chair (although generally accepted principles of corporate governance would recommend that this is not the case).

The roles and responsibilities of a CEO will vary depending on the company size and structure. In smaller companies, the CEO will have a wider remit and, as well as driving company strategy, they will be involved in more ‘hands-on’ activities, such as the hiring of staff. In larger companies, they will focus on high-level corporate strategy and policy, as well as liaising with shareholders.

Key responsibilities

Responsibilities will vary, but examples include: 


  • meeting with and reporting to the board of directors; creating strong working relationships with them
  • determining the company’s culture and overall vision
  • setting long, medium and short-term strategic goals for the company and ensuring these are measurable
  • providing leadership to the executive team, as well as company-wide
  • driving the profitability of the organisation
  • liaising with shareholders, stakeholders, government entities and the public
  • overseeing the company’s financial activity, eg budgeting and auditing
  • maintaining awareness of the competitive market landscape, expansion opportunities, risks and industry developments
  • assessing the work of individuals within the executive team.

Why are they important?


The role of CEO is integrally linked to the performance and the success of an organisation. They are tasked with setting the strategy, vision and culture for the business to enable its success and to deliver profitability and shareholder value.

Person specification


The diverse nature of the CEO role demands a very broad skillset. Excellent leadership skills are essential, as is the ability to build trust and inspire confidence across all levels within the organisation. A CEO must have strong influencing and negotiation skills, as well as being able to work well under pressure and the scrutiny of shareholders and customers. Successful CEOs need integrity, tenacity and resilience in such a highly demanding position, but should also have solid commerciality and the ability to think strategically.

Careers insights from AB magazine

Top tips and advice on a wide range of career and workplace issues

Visit AB magazine

Case study for this role (AB magazine interview)

The view from Maryam Zafar ACCA

CEO of FTAC, Lahore, Pakistan