What Does a Chief Operating Officer Do?

A chief operating officer (COO) is one of the highest-ranking executive positions in an organization and is part of senior management. The COO is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day administrative and operational functions of a company, and reports directly to the CEO. The COO is also responsible for leading the execution of strategies developed by the senior management team. The chief operating officer is accountable to the CEO and is among the corporation's highest-ranking employees.

There can be two COOs in a large corporation who cover several businesses within the company. The COO develops the goals of the CEO and board of directors into strategies and operational objectives that will be implemented throughout the organization. They also describe the vision and time frame for achieving the goals. The position of chief operating officer 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.

Understanding what makes a COO successful is vital because the effectiveness of operations managers is fundamental to the fortunes of many companies. When Larry Ellison, founder and CEO of Oracle, and its chief operating officer, Ray Lane, separated in 2000, it highlighted how important this role can be. A COO is an executive member of a company who is tasked with managing the day-to-day operations and administrative functions of the company. He clearly had no aspirations to become the CEO of Dell, he was there to help 29-year-old Michael.