According to recent data, women still make up less than 25 percent of all executive-level positions. It’s time to change these numbers, but it isn’t easy to become a C-Suite executive.
Because this is an extremely important position, it takes many years of hard work to possibly achieve this status. However, it surely isn’t impossible.
If you think you have what it takes, keep reading to learn how you can become a C-Suite executive one day.
Branches in the C-Suite
A C-Suite executive is someone who works at the top of a company, holding one of the highest leadership positions. While it can vary by industry, generally, the “C” refers to the word “chief”.
The C-Suite is a collective of these individuals who work together to build a successful business. They are in charge of ensuring that the company is working properly and that all strategies and operations are in line with the business’s policies.
There are many different C-suite jobs in the collective, so depending on which C-level position you’re looking for, the path to it will vary.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
At the very top of the company lies the chief executive officer. They are in charge of overseeing all other C-level executives.
Oftentimes, the CEO is the face of the company because they have the highest ranking position. While every other C-level executive reports to them, the CEO reports to an elected panel of board members.
Chief Operating Officer (COO)
The chief operating officer is responsible for managing the everyday business operations, and they are generally second in command to the CEO.
The COO must often make quick important decisions, and they may handle part of the finances at times. A background in management and accounting is often recommended.
Chief Financial Officer (CFO)
The chief financial officer is a company executive that is in charge of all of the business’s financial operations. They will know about and be in charge of all significant financial decisions, ensuring they comply with all IRS standards and federal and local laws.
They are often in charge of the cash flow, making sure more money is coming in than going out. A CFO is also responsible for making sure everyone in the company gets paid accurately and on time.
Chief Compliance Officer (CCO)
The COO ensures that the business is always adhering to international, federal, state, and local laws and regulations, as well as following internal company protocol.
The COO may also be the manager of the company’s legal team.
Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO)
The chief human resources officer is the company executive who is in charge of all things that relate to the employees. Hiring, firing, training, promotions, demotions, and employee development, are all in the CHRO’s field.
They ensure that all of the company’s goals and procedures are communicated properly to employees initially and regularly.
Chief Marketing Officer (CMO)
The chief marketing officer is in charge of the marketing strategy, team, and research.
The main goals of the CMO are to facilitate growth for the company, generally by increasing sales with a comprehensive marketing plan.
The Road to the C-Suite
There are a few common methods to get to the C-Suite position.
The first is taking fate into your own hands and starting your own business. This will allow you to be at the top of your company, essentially being its CEO. You will also be in charge of who else is in your C-Suite collective.
You may also choose to work at a company for at least ten to twenty years, working your way up internally to the C-Suite level.
This will take dedication and hard work, as you will need to evolve with the company. You must also become an expert in your industry so you can continue to take more challenging and demanding jobs until you prove you are worthy to be picked to reach that executive level.
Another path to the C-Suite is by way of recruitment. With this, you would build your expertise and skillset in the meantime, standing out by showing you have a track record of success.
You may do this with one company and then be recruited by another, getting a promotion to the C-level. You could also do this as a freelancer or by running your own business, but you must be highly successful for this method to work.
How to Become a C-Suite Executive
There are some things you should keep in mind when it comes to C-Suite training. While the specifics will vary depending on the type of industry you’re in, there are basic things that every C-level executive needs to do to be successful.
First, you need to sharpen your leadership skills. You need to be a strong communicator and a people person so you can effectively lead your time.
Keeping your team motivated and staying calm under pressure are all essential attributes of a C-Suite executive. Getting an MBA in Organizational Leadership is highly recommended.
It’s also essential that you stand out, but for the right reasons. Show that you are someone that takes the initiative and that wants to help people. Volunteer your time and money, take risks, and don’t miss any opportunities.
If you don’t know where to start, take an entry-level position somewhere and work your way up. Continue to educate yourself so you are always one step ahead.
It’s a long game, but it could be extremely worth it.
Becoming a C-Suite Executive Isn’t a Straight Path
There are C-Suite executives in every field, which means there is no one secret formula to becoming one. However, learning about the different positions and finding what skills you need to sharpen can help you get much closer.
Use this guide, and apply it to the industry that you are most interested in going into.
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