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Strategic Leader with Fiscal Oversight
Duties of the president depend on the type of organization. The President of a small business is the top dog, the head honcho, the biggest wheel of all. Often, he has the combined title of President/CEO, or may go by the title of CEO instead of president. Small businesses rarely have both a CEO and a president, as they’re just not large enough to warrant that much executive oversight.
The president/CEO is often the owner or founder of the company. It’s his job to listen as much as it is to speak. He hears the viewpoints and reports of the company’s vice presidents or directors, and makes the final decisions or gives his stamp of approval. In a non-profit organization, the title of president or chair is given to the head of the board of directors.
It’s the president’s responsibility to ensure the company follows its mission, policies and procedures that are in place, and is profitable. She expects her team of executives to guide and oversee their departments and the managers who report to them, so they stay on track towards reaching their agreed upon goals.
Job Description of a President
An organization’s president sets policies and strategic direction for the company, both for the near term and for the foreseeable future. It’s her responsibility to ensure the company follows its mission, policies and procedures that are in place, and is profitable. She expects her team of executives to guide and oversee their departments and the managers who report to them, so they stay on track towards reaching their agreed upon goals. The president regularly asks for verbal updates and formal reports so she knows where each department and the company as a whole stands at all times.
A large part of the president’s role revolves around the financial aspects and health of the company. Although she has accounts playable/receivable staff, perhaps a VP of finance, and an independent accountant, the president must be aware of and knowledgeable of the company’s financial picture day-to-day.
Examples of a President’s Responsibilities:
- Long-range, strategic planning.
- Develop, enforce and reevaluate company policies and procedures.
- Analyze budgets and financial reports regularly.
- Continually plan ways to increase the company’s profitability and stay on top of progress.
- Create and maintain relationships with bankers and other community and industry leaders.
- Review and advise on contracts.
- Look for opportunities for investment/investors, partnerships, alliances and mergers.
- Display leadership posture and decision-making skills to lead the company with confidence.
- Be knowledgeable of, and pay attention to, tax liabilities, implications and exemptions of company actions.
- Report to the board of directors and preside at board meetings.
The President in a Non-Profit
In a non-profit organization, the executive director, sometimes called CEO, performs most of the duties that the president of a small business would perform. The person with the title of president is actually president of the board of directors, although some nonprofits use the title “board chair.” The board president or chair may form committees, assign tasks to board members or appoint interim board members when a seat becomes empty. The president also oversees the search for the organization’s executive director or CEO, and handles his/her performance review.
Some board presidents act behind the scenes, working with the board to oversee the organization, ensuring that it is operating properly and handling its finances responsibly. Other board presidents are the face of the organization to the public. They make speeches, write articles, and may be called upon to testify in court on behalf of the organization.
Education Requirements for Company Presidents
Company presidents typically have at least a bachelor’s degree, and often a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) or similar field. Of course, no one comes out of college and gets a job as president of a company, even with a master’s degree. Typically, company presidents work their way up in a company, assume many different jobs and roles, and learn a lot about the company and business in general that wouldn’t be possible, if you started at the top.
Presidents don’t always stay at the same company, however. They may spend time at several different companies, learning from many different angles and different industries, and then they may switch companies at the upper management level.
Salaries of CEOs
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that company chief executives earned a median salary of $181,210 in May 2016. The median salary is the midpoint in a list of salaries for an occupation, where half earned more and half earned less.
Backgrounds of Non-Profit Presidents
Non-profit board presidents come from many backgrounds. They start as board members and, like the other members, are asked to be on the board because of their connection to the organization’s mission, their prominence in the community, and the desire to have a well-rounded board.
The president is typically selected by the board members for a term. After the term, another president is selected from among the members. Some board members are paid, and some are not, depending on the organization.
About the Industries
Small companies in every industry have a leader at the top called the president or CEO. They usually work in an office, though they often go to meetings outside the company with other business leaders or community members. Sometimes they accompany employees on client calls, when the top management can offer added insight or to demonstrate the company’s interest in the client. They may also be present when a big or important deal is signed.
Presidents of small businesses and other top management work business hours that include the nine-to-five day, but they often work considerably longer hours as needed.
Part Time Board Presidents
Board presidents are part-time and often have other jobs where they may be of executive level. They attend board meetings once or twice annually, which may be held in locations far from the organization, because board members may not be local. When travel is involved, their travel expenses are paid.
Years of Experience
Before becoming president of a company, you need at least eight to 10 years of experience in business, with increasingly more responsible management positions. Company presidents often try to groom one or more vice presidents to take over the role of president when they retire, or if they leave for another reason. When that time comes, the president and board of directors decide which VP will work best in the top role at that time. If no one seems right for the job, they look outside of the company for someone with the skills and experience they need.
Job Growth Trend
Small companies will always need someone to lead them, whether they call the job president, CEO or something else. When small businesses are family owned and operated, it’s likely a family member will be moved into the top spot when there’s an opening, though not always.
The need for company presidents will ebb and flow with the economy’s ups and downs. If you have your eyes on someday spearheading a small company, then earn a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree, and learn all you can in different jobs within your industry.