Chief Executive Officers are the most senior executives within a company or organisation.
Ultimately, they are responsible for leading the company, managing resources and operations, making major decisions and acting as the main point of contact between the company and the board of directors.
This detailed guide explains everything you need to know about CEOs, including what a typical job description might look like, as well as the skills and qualifications required, areas of employment and what salary to expect.
- CEO description
- How much do CEOs earn?
- What does a CEO do?
- Requirements, skills and qualifications
- Who employs CEOs?
- Which junior jobs progress to CEO roles?
CEO job description
Chief Executive Officer | Great British Finance Association
About Great British Finance Association
GBFA is the collective voice of the UK banking industry, acting as a representative for over 200 financial firms. As a non-profit trade organisation, our mission is to encourage competition within the banking industry and support our members while growing the British economy.
About the role
We’re looking to hire an ambitious and accomplished leader for this challenging and high-profile position. Reporting to our Chair and the most senior leaders in the industry, our new Chief Executive Officer will shape the future of our business and deliver growth across all areas.
- Developing high-quality business strategies, plans and policies and ensuring these align with long and short term objectives
- Meeting regularly with our Chair and the Board of Directors to design, discuss and implement company strategies and vision
- Building and maintaining strong relationships with key industry stakeholders and clients
- Maintaining communications with firms and ensuring their needs are represented fairly and accurately
- Overseeing all departments, ensuring objectives are met and that senior management are aligned with company strategy
- Managing company budget in collaboration with Chief Financial Officer and seeking out investment opportunities
- Implementing a culture of continuous improvement across all staff and departments
- Acting as the face of GBFA and attending all press conferences and public appearances
Location & commitments
- Permanent, full-time position (40 hours per week)
- Regular overtime expected
- Based at our offices in Liverpool Street, London
- Nationwide and international travel required
- Proven track record in senior leadership roles within the British finance industry
- Significant experience establishing relationships with key industry stakeholders
- An excellent communicator with strong interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence
- Highly organised with excellent time management skills and ability to manage multiple projects concurrently
- Astute problem-solving skills and adaptability
- Commercially and business-minded
Contact us to apply
To apply for this exceptional opportunity, please contact Harriet Taylor at harriet.taylor@GBFA.co.uk.
How much do CEOs earn?
Chief Executive Officers are generally very well paid, earning on average a generous £40,000, though salaries can far exceed this when bonuses are taken into account, often pushing them to six figures.
CEO salaries in the UK
- Low: £28,840
- Average: £40,000
- High: £49,686
CEO salaries will vary hugely depending on:
- Company size – CEOs of larger corporations can expect to earn more than those at SMEs or startups
- The industry – CEOs working in finance, banking or other corporate sectors will most likely make more than CEOs working in charity, for example
- Location – Salaries are likely to be higher in London than in other areas of the UK
- Experience – CEOs with several years of experience will take home a higher salary
- Company performance – CEO pay is often tied to company performance and share prices, which can see them earn many multiples of their salary in bonuses.
For example, a CEO working for a fast growing London-based finance corporation would likely earn more than a CEO working for a regional charity.
These figures are averages and have been gathered from online job adverts. Keep in mind that they don’t account for other benefits, such as bonuses and pension schemes.
What does a CEO do?
Let’s simplify the job description by taking a look at what duties a CEO will usually perform:
- Developing company goals – Creating company goals and strategies and meeting with department leaders to ensure these are implemented across all areas of the business
- Consulting with Board of Directors – Regularly meeting with Board of Directors to report on company performance and working alongside them to create strategies and procedures for company growth
- Setting policy – Devising and implementing company wide polices and strategies
- Communicating with stakeholders – Building relationships with external stakeholders and investors, communicating regularly to update them on company performance and collaborating to decide company direction
- Driving performance – Instilling culture and drive into the business to ensure all staff perfom in line with company objectives
- Setting budgets – Working in combination with Chief Financial Officer (CFO) to decide and approve company budgets
- Hiring staff – Consulting with HR to approve all recruitment decisions, payroll and benefit distribution – personally involved in senior staff hires
- Monitoring performance – Monitoring staff performance, engagement and culture by liaising with senior managers across different departments
- Acting as face of company – Acting as the face of the company in all external communications with the public
What do CEOs need?
As it’s such a senior position, extensive experience is imperative for anyone wanting to become a CEO. Most roles require several years of work in the relevant industry, and a broad range of skills and qualifications are also highly sought after.
Exact requirements will vary by organisation, but generally speaking, here’s what’s needed:
CEO jobs typically ask for anywhere between 5-10 years of experience in their chosen industry. Due to the responsibility that comes with running an entire organisation, candidates must have significant managerial and leadership experience. It’s common for senior managers to work their way up through an organisation or industry before eventually landing a job as a CEO.
Competition for CEO roles is high, so candidates must possess a wide range of skills to beat the competition. These include:
- Communication: Confidently communicating with a wide range of people including external stakeholders, directors, internal management and employees at all levels within the organisation
- Leadership: Managing, motivating and inspiring large teams of people across multiple departments and delegating relevant responsibilities
- Problem-solving: Dealing with unexpected operational issues and taking quick action to minimise financial loss and other negative effects on company performance
- Decision making: Taking the lead in making important decisions affecting the direction, vision and success of the company
- Organisation: Balancing multiple tasks and duties at once across various departments and areas of the organisation
- Business acumen: Business-minded with an aptitude for seeking out new opportunities and making sensible business decisions
These harder, more CEO-specific skills are also a huge bonus:
- Industry knowledge: Strong knowledge of the relevant industry arising from several years of experience
- Business financials: Sound understanding of profit & loss, margins, cash flow and other crucial financial concepts
- Sales & marketing: Most CEOs need to be well-versed in these 2 business drivers
A degree isn’t an essential requirement for CEOs, as experience is by far the biggest advantage, but education to at least undergraduate level is sometimes expected. Candidates can also complete additional qualifications to increase their job prospects further.
Some of the more useful qualifications for CEOs are as follows:
Many CEOs will hold a degree at undergraduate level, usually graded at a 2:1 classification or above.
Although it is possible to ascend to this role on experience alone, candidates with degrees may have a better grounding in their field and therefore be able to progress quicker.
Though most degrees are acceptable, employers will sometimes favour candidates with the following degrees or similar:
- Business management
- Accounting and finance
- Liberal arts
A Masters degree is not essential, but some job descriptions may list it as desirable. A popular choice for CEOs wishing to complete postgraduate study is a Masters of Business Administration (MBA).
The Chartered Management Institute (CMI) offers a range of qualifications designed to boost performance and enhance career prospects for managers, senior managers and CEOs. CMI qualifications are available in three formats: award, certificate or diploma, and are internationally recognised.
The following qualifications are most useful for CEOs:
- Level 7 Strategic Management and Leadership – designed for Senior Managers wanting to translate organisational strategy into performance
- Level 8 Strategic Direction and Leadership – suitable for C-level Senior Managers who have the responsibility of developing collective strategies across their organisation
What is expected of CEOs?
CEOs are typically expected to commit to the following:
- Full time hours – Usually on a Monday-Friday, 9-5 work pattern
- Regular overtime – CEOs will be expected to go above and beyond their normal working hours and work will often cut into private time
- Stressful, fast-paced work – CEOs should anticipate a busy schedule with various tasks and departments to manage at once
- Location – Usually office based
- Regular travel – Regular travel, both nationally and internationally, is expected for CEOs when attending meetings, conferences and speaking at events
The role of Chief Executive Officer is the pinnacle of most people’s careers, and so offers an exceptional set of benefits. These include, but are not limited to, the below:
- Pension scheme
- Shares in the business
- Private healthcare
- Company discounts
- Company car
- Commissions and bonuses – Based on company performance – These can often be many multiples of the base salary and drive pay well above six figures.
Who employs CEOs?
Chief Executive Officers are required to lead almost every large company in the UK. As a result, work opportunities are vast, and CEOs are employed across a range of businesses in the public, private, and not for profit sectors.
CEO jobs are prevalent across the UK, although like with most roles, the most lucrative positions tend to be in London.
Though not an exhaustive list, some of the sectors CEOs might choose to work in include:
Which junior jobs progress to CEO roles?
Most CEOs progress to their position through years of experience.
Though exact roles and responsibilities will differ by industry, here are some more junior positions that prepare candidates well for an eventual CEO role:
Senior managers and directors
Senior business staff are responsible for planning and overseeing the work of a group of staff, such as within a specific team or department. Their responsibilities include: controlling the departmental budget, delegating tasks to staff and ensuring department objectives are understood and met. Senior management prepares candidates for the role of CEO by developing their communication, organisation and leadership skills. These roles include financial controller, sales director and more.
Director of operations
Directors of operations control the strategy and operations of a site or area. For example, they may be in charge of a specific region within a national company — managing its staff, developing and implementing policies and coordinating day to day activities. This role is a great stepping stone for CEOs as it endows candidates with significant experience that they can later expand upon, eventually moving from controlling one site or area to an entire organisation.
Which senior jobs do CEOs progress to?
CEOs are typically the most senior executives within a business, so they cannot progress further within their organisation. After working in their position for many years, some CEOs may choose to enter a different industry or found their own venture or startup.
However, there are alternate career choices that can offer a higher salary and even more responsibility:
Chairman of the board
The chairman of the board is the most senior ranking member of the board of directors. They are responsible for the overall performance of a company, cooperating with CEOs to lead an organisation to success based on detailed plans, objectives and strategies. Their salary is significantly higher than that of a CEO, with the UK average standing at £95,000.
CEO (Chief Executive Officer) job description – conclusion
For many people, becoming a Chief Executive Officer is the ultimate career aspiration. Working in this role is hugely exciting and satisfying, offering a range of benefits, an abundance of creative freedom and the opportunity to shape the future of entire industries.
With opportunities available across a variety of sectors, becoming a CEO is the perfect reward for anyone who has excelled in their chosen industry through years of hard work and dedication.
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