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CEO, Chief Executive Officer

Summary

Quick Facts: CEO, Chief Executive Officer
2019 Median Pay Early Stage Company, $0 to $10M in revenue:   ~ $150k to $250k per year

MidStage Company, $10M to $50M in revenue:  $200k to $500k per year

Late Stage Company, $50M to $100's of millions in revenue:  $300k to >$1M per year

Compensation can come in base salary, bonus and equity
Typical Entry-Level Education Bachelor's degree, many have post graduate degrees.  Though once an individual has proven themselves a winner in any division (sales, finance, engineering, marketing, etc) degrees are wholly irrelevant.  What matters is performance and execution on the field of battle.  
Work Experience in a Related Occupation CEO's typically excel in one or more of the departments as a leader in core operating unit of a company.  Some of the typical leaders have proven expertise as leaders of sales teams or large divisions of engineers.  Great leaders have a great product market and technology sense, understanding customers and what it takes to sell a product. 
On-the-job Training Good Boards are typically comprised of experienced operating executives, with plenty of scars and successes.  These, along with outside advisers, often provide some of the better insights on what it takes to be successful in the job.  
Number of Jobs, 2019  ~500,000
Job Outlook, 2019  3 to 5% per year. As long as GDP is growing there will always be a demand for talented leaders who can guide companies to profits and success. 

Industries where found  
Technology Companies, Hospitals, Life Science and Research companies, Manufacturing Companies, Non-Profits and many more 
CEO's hire and fire the executives that work directly for them.  Great leaders also give their Vice Presidents the guidance and freedom they need, to do the same. They hold their people accountable and reward them for doing a great job.   

What CEO's Do

CEO's, or Chief Executive Officers, are the leader of a company.  They guide the management team in their effort to establish operating plans and objectives for the company.  The goal is to build shareholder value which is largely focused upon becoming the most profitable company in a large and growing market, taking market share from competing companies and leap frogging the competition with break through solutions that excite the customer base.  CEO's devise a five year plan and then lay out an annual set of goals that will help the company move down the path towards longer term growth and increasing value to shareholders.  Typically, the CEO runs the Board Meetings and gets the Board's buy in on the strategy and resource allocation across the team.  

Work Environment

CEO's exist across every kind of company and in nearly every industry.  The office environments and culture of the teams that they hire and build are largely governed by the decisions and priorities of the CEO.  So in many ways, the CEO helps to create the right environment for the kind of team and company she or he wants to build.  Different types of companies often have different work settings which assist in the effective execution of the company.  For example, many technology companies work in large cubicle settings where engineers or other team members may be divided into sections based upon the parts of the product they may be working on.   Hospital or life science environments may be somewhat laboratory focused by nature, or designed for the assistance of inpatient and outpatient work.  The settings and work environment for each kind of company is often dependent upon the kind of work that needs to be accomplished and organized in a manner in which will likely best assist the CEO and his team in achieving  their annual goals and satisfying customers. 

How to Become a CEO

There is absolutely no set path to becoming a CEO.  While many CEO's have graduated from top universities, that may also be a reflection upon the reality that top performers are often accepted at top schools, and be little or no reflection on the school itself. In fact, many of the most talented and recognized CEO's quit college because they felt they would learn more and could take advantage of the opportunity at hand by getting to work in the office environment and building their start up companies.  CEO's such as Steve Jobs (Apple), Bill Gates (Microsoft), Richard Branson (The Virgin Group) and Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) to name a few. 

The best way to become a CEO is to set your sights on the objective early.  Decide what industry and technologies most excite you, and dive into learning about every aspect you can.  Then pick an area that you intend to work in...engineering, sales, marketing, etc....and excel.  Work your way up in the various roles that you can, and ideally over time, your experience, insights and contributions on a management team make someone feel you are worthy of consideration for such a role. Sometimes CEO's are hired from within a company, and often times the are not.  Success in one such role helping a company achieve extraordinary profits and shareholders to see significant returns on their investments are what generally open countless doors for successful leaders in the future.  

Pay

Pay can greatly vary for CEO's based upon the stage of a company, industry in which the individual is working and experience and credibility of the individual.  While not an easy job to get, there are CEO's of public companies and multi-billion dollar private companies that make well over a million dollars a year, some making more than ten million dollars a year.  While some may complain and believe that they should not make such a large multiple of pay over employees who make significantly less, the reality is, just like in athletics where one star franchise player can make an order of magnitude more than every other player on the team, great CEO's can earn investors incredible returns on their investments, and Boards are willing to pay up to attract and hold winning individuals. 

Ask yourself if you had the opportunity to have Steve Jobs as your CEO, what do you think he is worth?  And if another company is willing to pay him more and he thinks they have as strong of an opportunity as your company, which job and payroll do you think he should take?  Which job and payroll would you take?  Pay, like all other honorable exchanges, is based upon supply and demand.  And great people, are in high demand.   Government often tries to manipulate supply and demand, in order to empower itself and attract naive voters.  

Job Outlook

As long as GDP is growing there will always be strong demand for great leaders of companies.  The CEO is typically the quarterback of any team, and the Board are the set of coaches and advisers who hold them accountable to strong execution for the team and shareholders.  Given the growth and outlook for the company it is anticipate that the half million CEO's across the nation today should continue to grow by 3 to 5% for year over the next ten years ahead. 

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Created by Successtrek, 2019

What CEO's Do

CEO's run the company.  In addition to creating the strategy and laying out plans with management in which to execute on, the CEO's are often tasked with countless other jobs and responsibilities.   They spend much of their time coaching the various Vice Presidents in their roles, helping them to succeed, and where appropriate, training those individuals to eventually be prepared to assume CEO responsibilities themselves. In addition to running the company's day to day operations, the CEO must raise money on the outside from investors, hire and fire his direct reports (Vice Presidents), help shape the culture, work tempo and environment of the team, and keep the Board informed and in sync on the strategy and progress of the company. 

Duties

CEO's typically do the following:

  • Run the day to day operations of the company
  • Establish the five year plan, and then work with Management to create an Annual Plan to be presented and approved by the Board
  • Work with the Chief Financial Officer to create an expense and hiring plan that fits in accordance with the annual objectives. 
  • Hire and fire his Vice Presidents, assisting them in hiring and managing their direct reports and executing on their specific responsibilities.
  • Sets the standard for the work ethics and company environment, helping to shape a positive, goal oriented culture that ideally is fun to work in, yet incredibly reliable and success oriented.  All people are accountable and play a role that they can connect to the higher level annual company objectives. 
  • Meets regularly with management to check progress, see shortfalls and determine where assistance is needed.
  • Spends time on the fund raising requirements, helping the company to achieve milestones that will enable the company to raise additional capital if needed, at higher prices - growing the value for employees and all shareholders.
  • Keeps the company budget and profit focused, driving the company to break even - where the net revenues exceed the next expenses.  While some companies ignore this feat, a company is not really a company until it can stand without any outside funding... and that can ONLY happen when a company reaches profitability.  Any organization, to include a country, that believes it can sustain losses without a plan to achieve profitability and spend wisely, is destined for disaster and shut down -- justly so. 
  • CEO's keep the boards informed, sometimes in formal monthly or quarterly board meetings, but often in between at lunch updates or phone calls.  While there are Board Meetings for formal updates, great CEO's do not hesitate to use their Board members as a sounding board on challenging decisions, and they also rarely surprise them at a Board Meeting with bad news.  Generally a call or email beforehand is made to ensure thoughtful work can be done if needed before arriving, and so the discussion is productive when he has them on hand.  
CEO's rarely let their Board Members be survived, attempting to meet them for coffee or update them on the phones, particularly if there are challenging situations. 
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CEO's are generally one of the top three most critical players on a team, if not the most critical.  One can liken them to the quarterback of a football team, and great ones have instincts, intuition and can inspire others to achieve what sometimes seems super-human goals.  He or she must find the right balance of fierce determination and grit in pushing their players with the right positive reinforcement and incentives to make the job worthwhile to his or her entire team.  It can often be a very lonely job, because even though the CEO can reflect with the Board members from time to time, much of the time the CEO bears the burden for the success or failure of how the organization is doing, and they cannot always reflect stresses regarding the financing situation, personnel shortfalls or other dynamics which may weigh them down on a daily or nightly basis.    

The following are examples of types of companies that CEO's can lead:

Biotech CompaniesThese are generally science companies made of scientists, so the CEO themselves are often a PhD or other former lab coat wearer who can earn the respect of the leading scientists assisting the company in solving a major life science challenge.  Biotech companies are generally working with organisms or living systems that they manipulate or cause to change in the pursuit delivering a breakthrough in disease management or other related products or services.   These are very technical organizations who operate with some of the leading life science researchers in the world competing to solve problems that will often deliver meaningful returns to investors who risk their capital to solve these problems. 

Technology Companies:  These are companies that are typically solving problems in software, semiconductor, security or related computer science and electrical engineering industries where CEOs are working with large groups of engineers solving problems that will make computer systems or related hardware run more effectively and efficiently for consumers or businesses. 

Non-Profits:  While they are called non-profits, very rarely does a CEO of a non-profit not have to worry about the profitablity or financial security of their company.  They may dedicate themselves towards a cause which makes work very satisfying -- perhaps helping a community of people, serving elderly, or supporting the injured --- but i the execution of those objectives the CEO is tasked with ensuring the long term viability of her or his organization and must work with investors, sponsors or donors to ensure the necessary capital is on hand to keep the organization compensated, motivated and growing.  

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Work Environment

CEO's decide upon the office environment in which a team works, and also establishes the values and culture that the team should prioritize when working with customers and attracting others to the team. 

The CEO creates the work environment, typically working hand in hand with the CFO.  The two of them often choose the office setting in accordance with the operating requirements, culture and needs of the company to help it attract, retain and support the right kinds of executives and employees.  Sometimes software and technology companies can be more casual and relaxed in nature, while life sciences companies focused on research may be more lab-coat, computer lab and scientific in design.  Likewise, investment firms on Wall Street such as JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs may be blue suit and tie environments, as investment bankers spend time on the road meeting with Boards to assist them in raising millions of dollars in cash for their companies that they support.  Thinking about the kind of teams and environments that an individuals wants to work in can be a useful way to consider what career fields may be of interest and most satisfying to an individual.

The other important aspect to the environment besides the building and office complex in which the company may be located is the team and values of that team itself.  Some teams prioritize team work, while others may focus upon individual achievement and valuing stars.  Often times great leaders establish a core set of principles that have some meaning and impact to the thinking of how a team interacts with one another, and in the growth and strategy of the business.  Such characteristics may be such things as integrity, teamwork, reliability, excellence and profit.  Good teams make these not just catch phrases, but make these values aspects that are considered in the day to day interactions with one another and their customers and partners in the field. 

Work Schedules

Practically speaking, the CEO should typically be the hardest working individual on the team.  They should be the first to come in and the last to leave.  They are in general one of the most compensated individuals on the team, and they set the tone for performance and work effort.  It is not unusual for a CEO to work in excess of 80 hours per week, and then spend much of their time in the evenings at home and on the weekends, answering emails and preparing for upcoming board meetings.  Great people do not work hard because they have too.  Great people work hard because they are in love with the game of business, they want to lead an industry, and they know the honor for which they have been selected to lead the company is so special, they want nothing less than to do an amazing job.  Great leaders do so no for themselves or their own compensation, but are motivated in making their investors and vice presidents successful for supporting them in this great responsibility.  

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How to Become a CEO

CEO's work closely with their Vice Presidents to assist them in being successful.  

Although education and training requirements vary widely by position and industry, many CEO's have at least a bachelor’s degree and a considerable amount of work experience.  There is absolutely no set path to becoming a CEO.  While many CEO's have graduated from top universities, that may also be a reflection upon the reality that top performers are often accepted at top schools, and be little or no reflection on the school itself. In fact, many of the most talented and recognized CEO's quit college because they felt they would learn more and could take advantage of the opportunity at hand by getting to work in the office environment and building their start up companies.  CEO's such as Steve Jobs (Apple), Bill Gates (Microsoft), Richard Branson (The Virgin Group) and Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) are a few who thought that getting a college degree would not be a wise use of their time or money. 

The best way to become a CEO is to set your sights on the objective early.  Also, speak to all the great leaders you can and listen online to how CEO's have led their companies and teams to success.  It is often not a pretty journey.  Steve Jobs was fired at his companies more than once.  But tenacious spirit to win and succeed, making extraordinary contributions to a strong team are often trade marks of a great leader.  

Decide what industry and technologies most excite you, and dive into learning about every aspect you can.  Then pick an area that you intend to work in...engineering, sales, marketing, etc....and excel.  Work your way up in the various roles that you can, and ideally over time, your experience, insights and contributions on a management team will make someone feel you are worthy of consideration for such a role. Sometimes CEO's are hired from within a company, and often times they are not.  Success in one such role helping a company achieve extraordinary profits and shareholders to see significant returns on their investments are what generally open countless doors for successful leaders in the future.  

Education

Again, degrees are irrelevant once an individual has joined a company.  If there are 5 people, four of which have degrees from Harvard, Stanford, Yale and MIT -- and one who does not.  And if after 6 months on the job the one who does not have a degree is proving themselves to be a far better software developer, marketer or salesmen than the ones who have been to college, the degrees are of no consequence on the path to promotion and success.  Degrees are merely indications that "might" be successful.  Real world performance on the field are indications that the operator knows what they are doing out on the field of battle, competing against the market place and helping the company win. 

That said, many CEOs do have degrees from top schools, and many do pursue additional degrees such as masters or PhD's in engineering, computer science, biology or the medical sciences.  Degrees which have direct relevant skills to the work environment are largely more valued than more soft oriented degrees by nature, because one seems more readily usable to an employer and they know the foundation of skill in which a young employee has on hand to utilize.              

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

CEO's typically have led a division or two in a team, and can in many circumstances, handle the job and responsibilities of the Vice President that reports to him or him.  This gives them the credibility and ability to coach their Vice Presidents more effectively and understand the typical pressures and problems of which they are faced.  

Generally speaking, there are significant differences across industries, so CEO's and management teams generally develop career expertise in a specific industry.  For example, a CEO may have spent most of her or his career in the semiconductor industry, and they will find that is the place where they find the most CEO opportunities.  Other industries include the software, manufacturing, life science or non-profit sector.  CEO's largely stay in one industry, though when they prove great success, they can sometimes reach to different industries and apply their leadership skills in new markets.  

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Except in career fields such as medicine, law or very specific technical arenas, there are no licences, registrations or certifications that assist one in assuming a CEO role or position.  In the law however, it is understandable that lawyer would lead the law firm - and not surprisingly, often times that managing partner is still an operating partner bringing in clients and working on cases and business agreements.  Likewise in a hospital or research institution, a CEO may be a scientist who has moved into more managerial roles, and while they may still have some credibility in the science, there are often younger more versed scientists operating in the art form than the seasoned CEO.  However, in a hospital environment, it would not be unique for a CEO to also still be a practicing surgeon or clinician.  Those things said, in large part, there are no specific qualifications or documents an individual can earn to show they are qualified to be a CEO.  Typically it is merely exceptional work and performance in an operating company and recognized by board members that proves one is ready. 

Important Qualities

Communication skills. CEO's need to be able to work effectively with a management team, to clearly communicate the opportunity to potential investors, and to ensure a Board is excited by and supportive of the company's operating plan.  

Intuitive incites on people and market opportunities.  CEO's must have instincts on the directions of markets and the timing of when they will grow and expand.  Misreading of these things can mean a company hires people too soon and fails to achieve the sales goals and must let people go.  Having a CEO with great instincts about products, people and opportunities is one of the most important traits a CEO can maintain.

Great leader.  CEO's must inspire their people to operate at extraordinary level of performance.  To achieve exceptional results, a CEO often needs to push their people and show them what it takes to over-achieve, assisting them in their tasks and responsibilities.  They must also know how to organize and manage the team effective, setting up compensation schemes that are consistent and help motivate all the players across the team.  

Able to make tough decisions. Great leaders can make the tough calls that are necessary when a team is under pressure. Sometimes it is to cut certain features from a product set. Sometimes it is lower expenses and let people go.  And sometimes it is focus on certain products or services that limit the field of opportunity, but increase the chances of success.  The responsibility and pressure upon the CEO is enormous, but the great ones have strong instincts about when and how to make the tough decisions, and can get buy in from his or her management team to help make those choices successful.  The CEO cannot be right all of the time, but they have to be right most of the time.  

Critical thinkers. CEO's need to be creative thinkers who can help their Vice Presidents solve problems.  They must also be fast on their feet and know how to answer challenging questions from investors while making the Board feel they have a good feel for the company and problems that are at hand. 

Multifaceted. CEO's need to be able to handle various roles and show up in different situations and contribute meaningfully to the challenge at hand.  For example, they may be required in the morning to help lead the executive update meeting and then roll into a sales call with the Vice President to close the companies biggest contract...then leave to head to a lunch meeting with one her or his Board members, then return to the office for an all hands meeting to help lead the company update.  Each one of these requires great energy, enthusiasm and clear focus and she or he keeps the momentum on the milestones the team must accomplish for the year.  

Relentless winners.  Great CEO's are relentless. They seemingly don't tire and are pushing their people to fill the sales pipeline, meet revenue goals, operate below budget, and hitting their delivery goals on time.  It can sometimes be a burdensome, thankless job; but great leaders love the sport of the game and helping their team to be winners.  

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Pay

Chief Executive Officer

Median annual wages, 2019

Early Stage $150,000 to $250,000
Mid Stage $200,000 to $300,000
Late Stage $300,000 to >$1M
Equity Positions2% to 10% of a company
Bonus PlansFor mid and late stage companies

Pay can vary significantly from company to company and depending on stage, performance and experience of the CEO.  Generally compensation is spread between base pay (the salary), equity (longer term compensation) and bonus (year end additional pay based upon meeting goals, often sales related). 

Early stage companies typically pay the least but provide more equity to the CEO.  So a company making zero to $10 million in revenue might pay a CEO $150k to $250k in salary, and it is possible for that individual to own 5% to 10% of a company.  That equity is typically vested over four years, meaning that they receive part of that equity for each month they work.  Sometimes there is a one year cliff before they receive any equity, and this is generally to ensure they are the right person for the job, and that they stay for the longer term to earn that equity.  Generally there is not a bonus until the company begins to earn some meaningful revenue, which can often not be until the mid-stage of a company's growth. 

A mid-stage company doing approximately $10 million to $50 million in revenue might pay at CEO $200k to $500k per year, and the equity be slight less than what is available in an early stage company, because the risk is lower and revenues are higher.  Equity amounts can vary however receiving an equity package of 3 to 6% would be in the rough range.  Similarly, as the company begins to hit these revenue numbers, boards structure bonus plans where management overall receives a percentage of the revenues and the CEO often divides that out and rewards executives based upon a combination of both company and personal goals.   

Late State companies, meaning companies earning between $50M and $100M, are typically in route to going public where CEO's and management can realize value and take some of it off the table after lock up periods expire on their vested stock.  If a new CEO is hired, they might typically get a base salary of $300k to upwards of $1 million dollars per year, and bonus plans can take cash compensation beyond that.  As for equity, a newly hired CEO in a pre-IPO company may get 1.5% to 4%, depending on the stage and expectations on the value at the IPO.  

Many companies these days are avoiding Initial Public Offerings because Government has regulated so many risks into the management of a public company that CEO's, Boards and Executives prefer to stay private because the cost burden and personal risks are far lower.  Similarly, investors seems satisfied to stave off that cost and challenge to management and prefer to capture lots more value before the Public ever gets a chance to participate.  And management can often find they have much greater freedom when it comes to acquiring companies, selling part of their own positions and a variety of other aspects that become vastly more challenging once the Government's SEC and other regulatory agencies have implanted themselves as a management team chooses to go Public.  

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20000
CEO's, or Chief Executive Officers, are the leader of a company.  They guide the management team in their effort to establish operating plans and objectives for the company.  The goal is to build sh
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CEO's, or Chief Executive Officers, are the leader of a company.  They guide the management team in their effort to establish operating plans and objectives for the company.  The goal is to build sh
61,530
General Managers run major divisions of large corporations, often having full P&L responsibility (profit and loss), running the product lines than drive revenue and profits for the company's top l
103,720
General Managers run major divisions of large corporations, often having full P&L responsibility (profit and loss), running the product lines than drive revenue and profits for the company's top l
General Managers run major divisions of large corporations, often having full P&L responsibility (profit and loss), running the product lines than drive revenue and profits for the company's top l
Entrepreneurs are relentless self-starters who desire to build and create their own companies.  Many in the technology sector for exam
Board Members hire and fire the CEO, and are a sounding board for the CEO on strategy and resource allocation to achieve the annual goals.  While they can give him feedback, good Board Members do
Chairmen have near identical responsibilities to the Board Members except they often lead the Board Meeting agenda and priorities that will be covered.  The CEO typically still runs the Board Mee
While many run corporate planning and driving that implementation across the team, lots more are involved in leading future product strategy and core initiatives to help the company leap frog from it'

Links to Additional Information

CEO: Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chief_executive_officer 
CEO: Investopia: https://www.investopedia.com/terms/c/ceo.asp
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