The ‘C’ in the C-suite refers to the Chief. The officers in the C-suite are the leading executives and the key decision-makers of the business. Earlier, in the case of most organizations, the C-suite had three key titles – the CEO – chief executive officer, the COO – chief operating officer, and the CFO – chief finance officer. As businesses and requirements evolved, more titles such as the CMO – chief marketing officer, CTO/CIO – chief technology/information officer, CHRO – chief human resources officer, and CSO – chief sales/business development officer emerged.
The recent years have seen more and more C-suite titles joining the list. This adds to the difficulties of the C-suite crown bearer “CEO.” CEOs from some renowned companies say that their job has become more difficult than ever! All thanks to the new people and newer titles emerging in the C-Suite. While some of them see these titles as relevant to the current day business environments and bring futuristic value, some are just fancy names that are overhyped.
In this blog, we will discuss the new C-suite titles. Some, we consider, are here to stay, and a few that are just overhyped.
Let us first start with the traditional titles of the C-suite officers –
Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
A CEO is the company’s highest-ranking executive. A chief executive officer’s key tasks, include key decision making, managing a company’s overall operations and resources, and serving as the principal point of communication between the board of directors and corporate operations.
Chief Operating Officer (COO)
If the CEO is the captain of the ship, the COO is the “first mate.” They put the CEO’s strategy and business plans into action.
Chief Finance Officer (CFO)
They are in charge of all financial aspects of a company, from budgets to expense reports, as well as any money coming in and out.
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Emerging C-suite titles
1. Chief Data Officer (CDO)
Data finds its usage in almost all departments and having a C-suite officer to make data-related decisions is valuable. They will be able to make more informed, strategic decisions as to when to use a piece of specific information or how to handle it. This role has gained prominence in recent times, and it is worthy of all the hype that it has been receiving.
2. Chief Product Officer (CPO)
Whatever your business may be, you need to emphasize the product and take extreme care during each phase of product development. In some companies, the task comes under the responsibilities of the project management team. However, having a Chief Product Officer (CPO) leading the product development aspect helps in accelerating time-to-market. This makes the title a strong one.
3. Chief Budget Officer (CBO)
In most companies, the CBO is responsible for having executive control over the budget and finances assigned to a product/ project. However, the project management team and the CFO could also be handling these responsibilities. We think this new c-suite title is overhyped.
4. Chief Happiness Officer (CHO)
Well, as organizations become more employee-centric, there is a growing emphasis on employee well-being. CHOs are responsible for handling employee well-being, and their efforts should be focused on lowering attrition and attracting younger talents. But this is exactly what the Chief Human Resource Officer handles. The role of the CHRO is much more comprehensive. So, an additional CHO would only crowd the C-suite.
5. Chief User Experience Officer (CXO)
There was a time when user experience was considered a job for the software guys. But that’s a thing from the past. User experience is now a task that has to be taken care of at all stages of product development. However, companies are still failing to achieve this. This could be better handled with a C-level executive in place. So we think this title is here to stay.
6. Chief Storytelling Officer (CSO)
Storytelling, having a specific way to narrate the ‘hows and whys’ of the organization is gaining, is very important for a brand’s image. However, it doesn’t require a C-suite officer to fulfill the responsibilities. Rather it should flow internally, and the narrative should reflect its culture.
7. Chief Customer Officer
This is another must-have C-suite title, especially for customer-centric organizations. The executive is responsible for being customers’ advocates. Having a CCO could benefit organizations by putting the customers at the forefront, and they can also add a new, improved perspective.
8. Chief Freelance Relationship Officer
As companies are becoming more dependent on freelancers, it is expected that organizations will soon have to set up special departments to handle work coming from freelancers and freelance agencies. In this light, having a C- suite officer to take care of the company’s relationship with freelancers is a welcome move. Considering this, we predict that this new C-suite title is here to stay.
9. Chief Inclusion Officer
Being inclusive and accepting diversity is of top priority for sustainable growth. However, inclusion and diversity are not silos. Rather, they are company-wide values to be followed. While emphasizing inclusion should be a priority, using it as a buzzword in the C-suite isn’t practical. However, the title could stay for a while.
10. Chief Sustainability Officer
To thrive the competitive business environments, businesses need to think ahead and accommodate the needs of society. That brings us to sustainability. People have become more inclined towards environmental betterment and sustainability. Owing to this, companies’ top managements are ensuring that they take part in responsible and sustainability initiatives. This has also brought a special focus on ‘Chief Sustainability Officer’ – a C-suite title, which has become common these days and will rule the future.
11. Chief Growth Officer
Traditional C-suite does have CMOs – Chief Marketing Officer, but current-day organizations need to have a comprehensive approach, which comes with Growth Marketing. Growth Marketing is a combination of marketing + engineering, and finance. A CGO is responsible for eliminating departmental silos, so the organization reaches its strategic goals. It is a special role that is here to stay.
12. Chief Automation Officer
We are quite thankful for organizations for coming up with this title! Automation is the need of the hour and the future of businesses. With a C-level leader handling automation, identifying new opportunities, and becoming more competitive becomes much more efficient.
13. A Chief Behavioral Officer
This is among the new ‘must-have’ C-suite titles. The responsibilities of a CBO include the application of behavioral science to identify and solve business challenges. We think this title deserves all the hype and is here to stay.
14. Chief Party Officer
This is an amusing C-suite title and should not be placed in the C-suite. While some organizations have gone innovative with their C-suite, having a C-level executive handle party initiatives and splurge confetti isn’t necessary! It is mere hype in the name of creativity.
15. Chief Learning Officer
Well, the title is promising, and it is also very important for organizations to have a source to reflect on their learning from the past. However, project leads, managers, and even the HR team take care of the ‘educating and talent development’ internally. So this C-suite title is hype.25
To wrap it up, the C-suite is the top layer within the organization. Members in this level are the ones who are responsible for eliminating silos. They should take actions that contribute towards goal achievement. However, current-day businesses are trying to go innovative at the C-level, but only some of these new titles are here to stay. What do you think about them?
Rakhin has over 10 years of experience driving business development and client services. In his prior roles, he stayed close to customers to understand their requirements and help them achieve their business goals. He is passionate about customer success.
Published April 12, 2022, Updated September 26, 2022