When the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) is too busy to manage the production quotas and other operational factors of an organization, the Chief Operating Officer (COO) steps in to fulfill that responsibility. Often known as one of the top executives or the senior vice president in the corporate hierarchy, the COO reigns over the day-to-day activities of an organization, reporting back to the Board of Directors on a regular basis.
As one of the highest ranking members of an organization, a COO can be found in a variety of settings. Corporations, public sector organizations, nonprofits, and other institutions often employ this executive to oversee potential problems and improvements. Having both a higher authority and subordinates, the COO is under enormous pressure to succeed. There is also pressure to perform by increasing profits or making operations more efficient. Other characteristics of the position include a considerable amount of travel and working long hours, though times can be flexible.
Perks to the COO position include a spacious office, a prestigious reputation, and numerous support staff. Much of the travel is sponsored by the organization, since he or she must meet with other executives, staff, and customers to identify better operations procedures. Travel is also crucial for attending meetings and conferences in order for the COO to network as a company representative. Travel can entail a range of geographic distances, from local to regional, national, and even international.
Because of the authority and high pay garnered by the COO, the applicant pool is relatively larger than the number of open positions available. Because much of the position entails formulating company policies and directing daily operations, new applicants typically are expected to have at least a bachelor's degree in business administration or in liberal arts. A Ph.D might be required for positions in highly specialized fields. However, it is also possible for staff members to be promoted into the role from the company's internal structure by working their way up.