Top dog or big cheese: whatever you call her, she’s got the title and the biggest job in the corporation: president, or CEO. But, this coveted position comes with awesome responsibility. Everyone praises her when the company’s doing well and blames her when it's not.
You need at least a bachelor’s degree, preferably in the industry you’re working, like computers, chemistry or construction. You’ll also need an MBA to keep up with all the other top execs jockeying for your position. But don’t expect the cushy corner office just because you’re summa cum laude. You have to prove your smarts by working your way up from the bottom. Solve the tough problems and ask for the big projects to deserve the increasing promotions. A certificate from the Institute of Certified Professional Managers can help, which requires education, experience and exams.
The ability to lead must be at the top of your skill list. Subordinates look to you for motivation and inspiration. Time management skills are necessary because you need to juggle several types of tasks throughout the day, such as analyzing business plans, meeting with customers and looking into operations in person. You must be a good problem-solver who can identify issues, examine available options and choose the best solutions. Finally, to gather information you need to make decisions, you have to listen actively to people’s concerns and offerings, and communicate clearly what you want done.
The number one job for you is to define some solid corporate goals, like growing market share by X percent or increasing sales by Y dollars. You then have to come up with strategies and procedures for reaching these goals. You also have to find ways to improve profits, increase efficiency and cut costs. You won't be going it alone. Meet frequently with other managers and department heads to get their take on their areas of expertise. Analyze your options, choose the best ones, and ask your administrative staff to take notes and distribute your wisdom in writing to the rest of the corporation.
Your job isn’t about the cash, the goods or the tech. It’s about the people and how you motivate them: customers, employees and investors. You must lead, cajole and negotiate to get the best out of them because your job depends on their efforts. You’ll travel a lot to corporate branches, investor meetings and maybe newspaper offices because even in the age of mobile phones and email, your face-to-face “hello” carries a lot of weight.
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