A guide to senior management structures

A guide to senior management structures

Creating the right senior management team is imperative to any company, whether they’re a multinational or a startup.

This article was written by Modwenna Rees-Mogg, founder and CEO of Pitching for Management, which matches senior executives seeking new roles with fast-growth businesses

Senior management functions include understanding your business model and strategy, risk management, and financial analysis, all of which are crucial elements for any successful business. In order for your business to thrive, you need to create the right management team who will support, build and maintain the growth of the business. 

All too often start-up companies bite off more than they can chew. You can have the idea, business plan and investment, but without the right management team you are more susceptible to committing amateurish mistakes. Although it’s natural to want to do all the work on your own terms, you can end up overstretching yourself and increasing your workload. 

Finding the right mix of management is vital, but is also completely dependent on the culture of your company. Some companies prefer to hire management who have ‘the right skills’ and others prefer to hire ‘the right personality’ – neither is wrong, but the choice does require careful consideration. The following tips will help you in your search for the right people to fill all the senior management team roles and responsibilities, and explain the key management areas where you will most likely need expertise. 


The role of the chairman is to control the board and share any wisdom and experience with their senior management team. They will oversee the implementation of the business plan, and will make sure that they are continuously reaching their key targets.

A good chairman will be in touch with the CEO and other senior members of the team on a regular basis (at least weekly). They are often ‘the face’ of the business and are active networkers.

Top tip: The finest chairmen are ‘seen and not heard’ but are extremely influential and highly respected both inside and outside of their company. They can also act as a confidante for the CEO, and should manage board meetings with iron levels of control.

CEO (Chief Executive Officer)

The CEO is responsible for the smooth running of the company, and is ultimately responsible for any failings too. A CEO will determine the company’s strategy and ensure it is moving in the right direction at all times. Every company needs a CEO to drive the business forward. The CEO will hire the best and fire the rest (if they’re doing their job well, that is).

If things go as you hope, your CEO will be plastered on the front cover of City A.M by the end of the financial year.

Top tip: The best CEOs aren’t busy; they delegate and accomplish everything through other people, i.e. they don’t sweat the small stuff!

COO (Chief Operations Officer)

The COO typically oversees all areas of the business that requires operational detail. The COO will be much more hands-on than the CEO, and will ensure the smooth running of the day-to-day activities rather than taking an overall perspective. If your COO is doing a good job, then they will be continuously feeding back to the CEO on the running of the company and any issues that call for the CEO’s attention.

Top tip: A COO brings all of the internal departments together and makes sure things are running smoothly. They will be ‘the face’ of the company internally, so should be a personable leader and encourage the employees’ work ethic at all times.

CFO (Chief Financial Officer)

The CFO will handle the money, and reports directly to the CEO. The CFO has a number of very important responsibilities, including: reviewing and analysing the company’s financial performance, preparing budgets and monitoring the company’s expenditure.

If you want your business to make money and don’t have great mathematical skills in-house already, then you will need a CFO. They will keep an eye on your cash flow, and make certain it’s healthy and profitable.

Top tip: Too many CFOs get bogged down in cost reduction. Try focusing on the future of the business, visualise how you could achieve this, and put a plan together.

CMO (Chief Marketing Officer)

Marketing isn’t all buzzwords and jargon. In fact, if done well, it can spell the difference between fortune and failure. Your marketing strategy should support your overall business strategy, and your CMO will take ownership of your marketing/sales strategy and put it into practice.

The CMO should have a clear understanding of your company’s industry, and with this knowledge, aid the roll-out of your product or service by ensuring that its position in the marketplace is right. The marketplace is overcrowded as it is, so it pays well to keep up with your competitors and hire the best CMO to devise and manage your marketing plan.

Top tip: Position your product where it can be seen, and think about where it sits contextually in conversation. Marketing isn’t used with force; it should stimulate your audience and make them think.

CTO (Chief Technology Officer)

The role of a CTO has become prevalent in the age of technology-based industries, and they will devise all IT framework and technology in your company. The CTO will support the overall business strategy with the IT infrastructure, and will most likely manage your internal IT team, where he or she will allocate roles and responsibilities.

The CTO will also be external-facing, regularly in contact with IT suppliers and vendors to ensure the smooth running of the business. He or she will be the principal contact at executive level if any issues arise, and will report directly back to the CEO or board of directors.

Top tip: Create a strong working relationship with the company’s stakeholders. You should bridge the gap between the technology and the business, so it is useful to not only understand the needs of the business, but understand the customers’ wants and needs too.

Non-Executive Director

A non-executive director is on the board of directors but is not part of the senior management team. They might hold shares in the company, but are not employees.

There is a significant difference between the role of a non-executive director at a large company and a start up. A good one will act as the ‘voice’ on very important decisions, and will have a full understanding of the business. In short, they won’t bother with the day to day stuff and are focused on the long term results.

Top tip: Look for the good qualities in that person: are they willing to get stuck in? Are they objective and know the right people? These kinds of qualities can aid your business, but if your business gets along fine without one then it might be a waste of money.


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20 January 2023 | Marketing
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