The Fluid Role of the Top Boss’s Understudy


Financial Times | September 26, 2012

The Financial Times quotes Sarah Galloway on understanding the role a COO plays within an organization.

What are COOs and what do they do? They can be the ringmasters of a company’s day-to-day operations – Manchester United’s Michael Bolingbroke actually joined the football club from Canadian circus group Cirque du Soleil – or they can be mere beneficiaries of title inflation. They have neither the job-specific qualifications of a chief financial officer nor the power of a chief executive, but while their numbers are dwindling at US companies, they seem to be proliferating elsewhere.

“There are as many definitions of the title as there are COOs in the role,” says Sarah Galloway of Russell Reynolds, the executive search company. Before starting a search for a new COO, “you have to be very careful to see what the [hiring] organisation understands by the role”.

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The Fluid Role of the Top Boss’s Understudy