The CEO is always the founder

Chief Executive Officer (CEO)

The chief executive officer is the American term for the executive board member of a company.

The designation Chief Executive Officer comes from the Anglo-Saxon area, where the term means the sole chairman of a company. The term chief executive officer is abbreviated to CEO. In Anglo-Saxon the term is legally binding, similar to the term "managing director" in Germany. In the course of globalization, the title CEO is now being used more and more in German-speaking countries. Here the chief executive officer means the management. Unlike in English-speaking countries, however, there can be several managing directors, but only one CEO per company. From a legal point of view, the title CEO in Germany, in contrast to the title of managing director, has no meaning. The term Chief Executive Officer is a kind of addition in German companies and rather describes the activity or function of a person within the company.

The tasks of a CEO

As a rule, however, the CEO usually takes on the typical tasks of a managing director, which means that the chief executive officer develops the company's strategic direction and determines its position in the market compared to the competition. The CEO is therefore usually the highest decision-making body at management level in Germany and reports to the executive board, the so-called "Board of Directors". The CEO is also responsible for the company's figures, such as sales and profit, but also for losses. The person who occupies the position of a CEO should therefore be characterized by a high sense of responsibility and the ability to make decisions and to live with the consequences.

In general, however, it must be noted that the designation chief executive officer does not have a uniform meaning internationally. As a result, the CEO in different countries, depending on the situation, is counted at the top or at the middle level of the hierarchy within a company. In addition to the CEO of a company, there is also, for example, a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) or a Chief Operating Officer (COO).


Well-known examples of CEOs: Markus Berger-De Léon was CEO of the VZ Group for a year, Eric Schmidt is the CEO of Google, Lars Hinrichs was the CEO of Xing and Jeff Bezos is the CEO of Amazon.

Alternative spellings

Chief Executive Director, Chief Executive Manager


Axel Hesse explains the term 'Chief Executive Officer (CEO)'

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