What Does a Chief Operating Officer Do?

A Chief Operating Officer (COO) is a senior executive responsible for overseeing the day-to-day administrative and operational functions of a company. The COO normally reports directly to the CEO and is considered second in the chain of command. Their role is to lead the execution of strategies developed by the senior management team, design and implement policies to promote company culture and vision, and oversee operations to keep businesses going. A COO is a member of an organization's executive team and is responsible for the day-to-day administration and operation of a company.

Alternative positions for the COO include chief operating officer, chief operating officer and chief operating officer. The Chief Operating Officer (COO) is a key member of the senior management team, which only reports to the CEO. Their day-to-day responsibilities may differ, depending on the operating structure and needs of the company itself, as well as the industry in which it operates. Understanding what makes a COO successful is vital because the effectiveness of operations managers is fundamental to the fortunes of many companies and could be so for many more.

The COO role is simply a concession to the complexity and scope of the current CEO's work, with his numerous external commitments. Managing large companies, often global, sometimes requires two hands; in such cases, the COO generally assumes responsibility for delivering results day by day, quarter by quarter. It's also why the position of COO is almost ubiquitous in operations-intensive companies, such as the airline and automotive industries, as well as organizations operating in hypercompetitive and dynamic markets, such as high-tech companies. High-level positions, including executive director and COO, are often in demand in business organizations.

When Larry Ellison, founder and CEO of Oracle, and its COO, Ray Lane, separated in 2000, it inspired the kind of breathless reporting that is usually reserved for celebrity divorces. A director of operations position requires many years of experience in various facets of a company's operations. He clearly had no aspirations to become the CEO of Dell; he was there to help 29-year-old Michael.