• Leader

Chief operating officer

Job profile:

Risk management

Career zone:

The transformation driver

Area of expertise

Risk management

What is a chief operating officer (COO) and what do they do?


The COO is a key member of the executive leadership team. They oversee the departments responsible for the production and delivery of an organisation’s goods and services, and are accountable for ensuring these functions operate effectively and in line with company strategy. The COO is responsible for ensuring that the business has effective operational processes, controls, reporting and people in place to maximise operational efficiency, manage risk and meet growth objectives.

Key responsibilities

Responsibilities will vary, but examples include: 


  • overseeing strategic and operational delivery activity of the company
  • developing and implementing business strategies, plans and procedures
  • setting comprehensive goals for performance and growth
  • motivating employees to encourage maximum performance and meet production & delivery targets
  • maintaining and building trusted relationships with key customers, clients, partners, and stakeholders
  • managing risk and crisis issues
  • evaluating effectiveness and efficiency of operational systems, technology and delivery processes
  • identifying improvement areas and overseeing change management initiatives across the business
  • directing acquisitions and sales of assets to meet organisation goals.

Why are they important?


The chief operating officer is a senior position that is ultimately responsible for the goods and services produced by an organisation. A COO is concerned with maintaining and improving efficiency, cost effectiveness and quality across all operations of a company, and plays a critical role in determining and implementing company strategy.

Person specification


A COO needs integrity, excellent organisational and leadership abilities, and strong interpersonal and communication skills. They should also demonstrate an aptitude for decision-making and problem-solving, especially under pressure. Competence in strategic planning, business development and regulatory issues is also essential in this role. Integrity is also vital in this leading role. More and more, bringing sustainability awareness into the organisation is essential in this role as organisations need to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability to retain a good reputation.

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Case study for this role (AB magazine interview)

Banking on disruption

Covid-19 is just the latest challenge Tony Dunne FCCA has to overcome in an international banking career