A chief administrative officer is an upper-management or executive level position in a corporation. People in this position often work closely with or as the chief operations officer, who is responsible for overseeing the daily operations of the organization. Responsibilities can be wide ranging for this position, including oversight of finance, marketing or sales, human resources, technology and other management functions. Because this position is at the executive management level, the organizational structure often has numerous direct reports underneath the position.
Most executive-level positions create policies and work to improve the corporate governance of an organization. Tasks and activities often involve classified or company specific information that other individuals — both inside and outside the firm — are not privy. The chief administrative officer is responsible for informing the chief executive officer and chief financial offers about the goings on within the company. With these other individuals, the administrative officer will direct the operations of the company by selecting operating industries, creating new product divisions or mixes, creating marketing campaigns and taking corrective action to for internal and external problems.
Three common and overarching tasks for the chief administrative officer are the planning, directing and controlling of a firm’s resources. Planning activities are those that look at future changes in the business environment and how these changes will affect the firm. The administrative officer will work closely with the financial department to ensure the company has the necessary financing for major operational changes, such as debt or equity funding lined up or available capital on hand for these changes.
Directing activities include the specific tasks for moving resources throughout the organization to achieve predetermined goals and objectives. The chief administrative officer will often break down large goals into smaller, more manageable projects. This creates an environment where it is easier to direct resources, and also creates a staged environment where the company will direct more resources at one project at a time. This prevents the overextension of company resources and loss of income on individual projects.
Controlling includes the tasks or activities where a chief administrative officer measures the performance of their company’s projects and operations. Performance measurements are either financial or operational, such as measuring the return on equity or employee production output. These controlling activities — when conducted often and early in a project’s lifecycle — helps the administrative officer make changes to the company’s operations before things get out of control and severely affect the company’s bottom line.