CEO vs. President: What’s the Difference? (Explained)

  • By: Josh Palmer
  • April 11, 2023
CEO vs. President
Reading Time: 5 minutes
CEO vs. President

Both the CEO and president serve on an organization’s executive leadership team, but roles differ. Learn more about CEO vs. president.

In most companies, a CEO and president are two of the topmost positions in the organizational structure. While some companies use these titles interchangeably, they’re different positions with contrasting roles.

Knowing the difference between a CEO vs. president can help you understand how the executive suite in a company makes decisions. On top of that, it also provides insight into the chain of command in a corporate structure and ways to pursue such executive leadership positions.

In this post, you’ll discover the key differences between a CEO and a president in terms of their roles and responsibilities. You’ll also learn how OnBoard software can help CEOs, presidents, and other boards of directors manage board operations.

What is a Chief Executive Officer (CEO)?

A CEO is a highest-ranking official in an organization and the head of the C-suite executives. In a corporation, CEOs are hired by the board and shareholders, while small business owners often assume the CEO role for their business.

Roles and Responsibilities

The job description of a CEO can vary depending on the company and industry. Generally, a CEO’s role often comprises the following:

  • Overseeing the company’s overall operations: CEOs typically craft and implement long-term strategies to ensure smooth business operations. To capitalize on opportunities and mitigate risks, organizations rely on the CEO’s strategic thinking and ability to plan for the future.
  • Managing the company’s organizational structure: Although CEOs never manage employees directly, they assign directives to the executive suite, which includes the president, chief financial officer (CFO), chief operating officer (COO), and chief information officer (CIO). In return, these executives distribute the instructions to the managers and supervisors, who relay them to employees.
  • Driving revenues and profitability: Company CEOs develop strategies and plans for achieving short-term and long-term profitability, and ensure all operations are geared toward achieving those targets. The CEO works with the CFO to develop a budget and allocate resources in a way that minimizes losses, drives revenue, and improves market position.
  • Communicating with the board: A CEO consistently communicates with the inside vs. outside directors in an organization. Sometimes, a CEO can also be part of the board and chair the board of directors. During the board meetings, CEOs present strategies and goals to the board that steer the company toward success. 

Pay and Notoriety

The annual salary a CEO gets can vary greatly depending on their location, experience, and skill level. According to ZipRecruiter, the average pay for a CEO in the United States in 2023 is $148,441 annually. That’s equivalent to $71.37 per hour, $2,854 weekly, and $12,370 monthly.

In terms of popularity, CEOs are widely recognized by the public due to their involvement in frequent company dealings. A good example is Elon Musk, CEO and founder of Tesla, and Steve Jobs, former CEO and founder of Apple.

What is a President?

After a CEO, the president is the second-highest-ranking official in an organization’s executive leadership. In the absence of a CEO, the president takes on the CEO’s role, including their decision-making responsibilities.

In huge conglomerates with multiple businesses, there can be several presidents in charge of different sectors. For example, a large media company with several networks can have presidents for each TV network under its umbrella.

Roles and Responsibilities

In some organizations, the roles of the CEO and president are the same. However, the president of a corporation is often in charge of the business segment, which includes:

  • Managing budget and finances: A president may be responsible for ensuring the financial costs of different departments stay within the company’s fiscal budget.
  • Implementing CEO strategies: Once the CEO develops business strategies and goals, a president oversees the successful implementation of the strategies in the company operations to reach the intended goals.
  • Providing guidance and leadership to managers: Presidents work closely with managers, offering them advice and leadership on how to best lead their teams.
  • Seeking strategic partnerships: Presidents can be involved in securing funds and profitable partnerships that help an organization grow.

Pay and Notoriety

The average annual pay for a company president in the U.S. in 2023 is $118,710 per year. Broken down, a president earns $57.07 hourly, $2,282 weekly, and $9,892 monthly.

Again, it all depends on skill level, experience, and location. Plus, a president’s influence in the business market also plays a role on how much they can be paid, with more influential presidents getting higher pay.

Achieve Board Meeting Excellence With OnBoard

The roles of CEO vs. president in an organization can be different. However, they both are part of a company’s executive suite. If you’re eyeing the CEO or president position, one strategy you can recommend to the board of directors is using OnBoard management software.

This unique software helps boards streamline governance and shift from working harder to smarter. OnBoard also explains how to prepare for a board meeting and write an executive summary for a board report. Overall, board members can utilize OnBoard management software to:

  • Access and manage meeting information in a central platform
  • Collaborate with board directors before and after board meetings
  • Put in place and get reminders for upcoming meetings 
  • Track meeting minutes easily and accurately
  • Get real-time feedback and vote on various initiatives
  • Access board materials stored on the cloud

OnBoard helps improve board governance and management of board operations and meetings. 

If you want more information to help you choose the right board technology, download our free Board Management Software Buyer’s Guide.

Ready to take your meeting agenda and minutes to the next level? Request a demo or a free trial of OnBoard, the board intelligence platform that empowers boards and committees to hold more effective, informed, and uncomplicated meetings. 

About The Author

Josh Palmer
Josh Palmer
Josh Palmer serves as OnBoard's Head of Content. An experienced content creator, his previous roles have spanned numerous industries including B2C and B2B home improvement, healthcare, and software-as-a-service (SaaS). An Indianapolis native and graduate of Indiana University, Palmer currently resides in Fishers, Ind.