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What is a 'Chief Operating Officer - COO'

A chief operating officer (COO) is the senior manager who is responsible for managing the company's day-to-day operations and reporting them to the chief executive officer (CEO).

A company needs a chief operating officer (COO) because the CEO is usually too busy to monitor production quotas and other factors on a daily basis.

BREAKING DOWN 'Chief Operating Officer - COO'

The COO of an organization typically reports to the CEO and works in conjunction with him. The COO is responsible for practical goal-setting and establishing strategies and objectives. Depending in part on the size of the company, the COO often plays a significant role in handling the actual operation of the company and makes sure that the company is meeting its short-term and long-term goals. Where the CEO may be more involved with a long-term focus, the COO is more often responsible for daily, quarterly or other periodic measured results. He also is involved with strategic planning for the future and may establish initiatives to expand the organization's product lines or markets.

The Relationship of the COO to the CEO

The COO's specific role often depends on the strengths and preferences of the company's CEO. Sometimes a COO handles all the internal affairs of a company while the CEO focuses on being the public face of the company. In this case, a COO may be responsible for production, research and development, and even marketing. In many cases, the COO is chosen specifically to complement the strengths and weaknesses of the CEO or to work in tandem with a CEO who prefers to function as a member of a leadership team.

COOs are often responsible for the execution of the strategies proposed by the CEO and the rest of the company's top leadership. In an entrepreneurial situation, the COO may have significantly more experience than the CEO, who may be the founder of the company. In this circumstance, the COO is expected to mentor the CEO during the early stages of the business's development.

Qualifications for a COO

A COO typically has a great deal of experience within the field in which the company operates and has often worked his way up through the ranks for at least 15 years. He has both business and management expertise as well as extensive experience in the practices, policies and procedures of his field. Because he is responsible for directing the work of the departments and personnel below him, the COO position typically requires strong leadership skills as well as the ability to approach situations from a creative point of view. COOs typically have at least a bachelor's degree and often have significant other training or degrees as well.

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