Who Reports to the Chief Operating Officer?

The chief operating officer (COO) is a senior executive who is second in command of a company, just below the CEO. As such, everyone except the CEO reports to the COO eventually, as ideas and plans move up the scale. The COO is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day administrative and operational functions of a company, and typically works closely with the CEO and CFO, as well as other members of the executive management team. A chief operating officer (COO) is one of the highest-ranking positions in an organization and is part of senior management.

The COO is usually second in command of the company, especially if the highest-ranking executive is the president and CEO. The COO is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the company and its office building, and is accountable to the highest-ranking executive, usually the CEO. For example, Richard Fuld, the president and CEO of Lehman Brothers, had a number two succession under his command, usually titled as president and chief operating officer. This person was responsible for selecting, training and training new leaders.

This is why 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. At Dell, Michael Dell had a chief operating officer (COO) named Allan L. Houston who was responsible for managing day-to-day operations and administrative functions. Operations managers are highly visible and powerful by virtue of their inherent talents and organizational position.

Understanding what makes a chief operating officer successful is vital because their effectiveness is fundamental to many companies' fortunes. Research in Motion's corporate structure had more than one chief operating officer, including Jim Rowan as chief operating officer for global operations and Thorsten Heins as director of product and sales operations. 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 in a company's success. In general, the CEO is considered the highest-ranking official of a company, while the president is second in charge; however, in corporate governance and structure, various permutations can take shape, so the functions of CEO and president may differ depending on the company.

A CEO (or CEO) is responsible for the overall health and management of the company. In addition to a COO, many companies also have program managers, people development directors, knowledge directors or other operations executives who report to them. These individuals are often promoted from within their own departments or have experience in operations.