A business executive is a senior professional who is commonly responsible for making key decisions and overseeing a significant department or functional area within a corporate operation. The specific functions of the job depend on the area and industry in which the individual works as well as the size and type of company for which he works. In general, however, a business executive is responsible for directing all operations, projects and programs handled by the department under his management. He is tasked with ensuring that the right people are hired to complete the jobs under him, that the right processes are in place and that the department meets operational and financial goals. He also may be part of an executive team and, as such, may take part in molding corporate strategy and making decisions that affect the entire company.
One of the main factors affecting the specific job responsibilities of a business executive is company size. In a large company, an executive might have up to several hundred employees working for him. These employees might be responsible for a number of functions and could be located in facilities or offices other than the one in which the executive has his office. In this case, he will usually hire and maintain a network of senior managers who work directly under him. His primary managerial role will be to communicate the company vision and processes to these managers and to task them with managing their teams.
In a smaller company, on the other hand, a business executive is more likely to be involved in the day-to-day operations of his unit. He is likely to be a working manager, meaning that he takes on a portion of the regular workload himself, rather than operating in a strictly managerial capacity. He is more likely to have fewer senior managers to support him and may be more involved in recruiting, hiring and directing personnel.
The duties of a senior executive also vary based on position type. Chief executive officers, sometimes called C-level executives, may direct junior executives. Sales executives, on the other hand, might actually manage no one and have little or no involvement in high-level strategy, but are sometimes given the title simply to make important clients feel as though they are dealing with a senior person.
Strategy and high-level decision-making are the usual hallmarks of a senior executive. He might be involved in decisions regarding the implementation of new company-wide policies, layoffs or hiring initiatives. He might vote on whether to launch a new product line, discontinue an existing one or to borrow additional funds for expansion. He may need to represent the company at any number of conferences, formal dinners, professional events and fund-raisers, particularly if he works for a non-profit organization.