What Does C- Suite Mean?

C suite is the business jargon for the circle of top executives in a corporation. The C-suite reference reflects the titles of this collective of executives who are largely responsible for strategizing and steering the company in the right direction. Typically, the C-circle consists of the chief executive officer, chief financial officer, chief operations officer and chief information officer. These senior executives are charged with tremendous responsibilities, but they are also granted top privileges when it comes to corporate perks, travel arrangements and compensation packages. Organizational restructuring to complement changing business demands has created positions for chief marketing officer, chief human resource officer, chief supply-chain and logistics officer, general counsel and many others, depending on the industry.

Leadership: Key to Ascending to the C-Suite

Various studies have shown that C-level jobs focus more on leadership skills and less on technical and operational competencies. For young employees plotting their path to the C suite level, it is important to hone leadership skills in the early stages of your career track because this is not a skill that can be developed overnight. C-level jobs are highly competitive positions because there are too few for the pool of aspiring candidates that expands every year. The career track is intense and you must demonstrate a history of progressive career advancements that can be attributed to exceeding performance expectations while demonstrating collaborative skills with your peers and supervisors.

Developing Competencies for a C-level Job

Senior executives are made not born. If you aspire to be part of the C-suite someday, you have to make the right career choices and develop the appropriate competencies to stand out from the crowd.

For instance, a successful CIO will have to go beyond the traditional technology and innovation focus. The CIO will be well-versed in marketing strategies and logistics management. CIOs should understand organizational design, business infrastructure and sales analytics to determine the points where technology intersects with business.

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For CFOs, the days of bean-counting are over. Sophisticated tools have made it possible to monitor operational efficiency in real time. Financial acumen and strong quantitative skills are still useful, but so are experience with capital markets, exposure to risk management challenges and the ability to communicate about complicated information with stakeholders.

For chief marketing officers, survival means understanding that the marketplace is no longer bound by geographic restrictions. The market is global for most industries, and adjusting to this reality may have to be done in stages. A CMO is ready to hit the ground running with strategies and solutions for a worldwide market. Note that not all products and services are suited for worldwide commerce, but convenient information dispersal should make it possible to learn from companies in similar situations.

The C-suite is the Holy Grail for hard-driving executives. This circle of top-level executives are the leaders responsible for keeping the company’s operations aligned with corporate goals. They play a big part in setting, implementing, reviewing, analyzing and readjusting these goals. The C suite may very well be the public face of the company, but it is also the core authority that plays a role in whether the business grows or stagnates and fails.