A Day in the Life of a CEO

We know the names of the best of the best: Jack Welch, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Meg Whitman.  But who are these men and women, these CEOs, and what, exactly, do they do? CEOs (Chief Executive Officers) hold the top job at a company.

A CEO meets with potential clients, political leaders, and other important people.

This title is sometimes exchanged for President, but CEO is the more commonly-used term these days. Very large corporations may employ more than one CEO. In this case, each CEO would hold the top job in their department. For example, CEO of Accounting, CEO of Marketing, etc...

Of course, this is not a job that one is going to land straight out of college and, in fact, only a small percentage of men and women who work in the upper levels of business will ever attain the highest job. Still, it is something that many aspire to, and it is interesting to think about how they spend their day.

Up Early

Most CEOs are early risers. The same can be said of many of the world's most driven people, and drive is certainly a requirement if one is to reach the position of CEO. Often, CEOs are the first to arrive at the office and the last to leave.

Morning Meeting

Many CEOs likely hold a morning meeting with their key staff. It would be in these meetings that major issues would be briefly discussed and assigned to members of his staff for closer inspection or resolution. At some point, the CEO's personal assistant or executive assistant would detail his agenda for the day including any meetings or upcoming travel.

Phone Calls/Emails

Many CEOs spend part of the morning getting caught up on email and phone calls that must be returned. This is likely a losing battle as the inbox and voicemail box of most CEOs is going to stay full. The CEO, usually with the help of an assistant, must sift through all of the correspondence and reply to those items he deems most pressing.

Power Lunches

Some important meetings will likely take place over lunch at one the finest restaurants in town. As the CEO meets with potential clients, political leaders, and other important people, his job will include being able to make people feel comfortable as much as anything else. While the wining and dining of potential customers and others may be less obvious and lavish than in years past, rest assured that it is still an important part of doing business. The CEO will be host at many of these lunch meetings.

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

The CEO is responsible for virtually every decision made within the company (or, in the case of a departmental CEO, within his department). The CEO must make decisions on everything from advertising to vendors and from staffing to the purchase of new capital equipment.

Obviously, how closely the CEO is involved in each of the decision-making processes will depend on the importance of the issue being decided upon, but his is the final word on most of what goes on within a company.

He will have a steady stream of staffers coming to him throughout the day to discuss projects, budgets and other issues. The CEO will often have to make snap decisions based only on the information being provided by his staff. For this reason, it is vital that a good CEO surrounds himself with people that he trusts.


Late Nights

Many families of CEOs can testify to the fact that just because a CEO is away from the office that doesn't mean the work has stopped. Now, more than any time in the past, technology has made it possible to stay connected no matter where you are in the world.

Even when they are on vacation, many CEOs are still answering emails and returning phone calls.

It is true that CEOs earn top dollar, but that paycheck is well earned through hard work and long hours. But for those who succeed, they leave behind the legacy of a successful company.