A Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) is a business executive that works behind the scenes. They use problem-solving and innovation to search for answers to challenging obstacles. They have a talent and desire to create and execute strategies for projects, growth, and other key aspects of achievement. If you plan for a career in business and want to drive your company’s approach toward success, a career as a chief strategy officer could be right for you.
Why Become A Chief Strategy Officer
Chief strategy officers (CSOs) work among top-level executives. Their general goals are to define and implement strategy, and allocate resources to support strategic planning. Since the responsibilities of a CSO vary among industries and their companies, a CSO’s planning must be malleable and customized to meet the needs of the firm.
A CSOs’ main objective is to drive growth and innovation through planning and project management. The challenge of this objective depends on industry and firm size. CSOs must align each department’s strategic plan to meet the overall goals of the company. In a large corporation, this could be a daunting task; however, with excellence in foresight, organization, and interpersonal skills, an effective CSO can handle such challenges.
Each company will vary regarding its approach to business—CEO leadership style, size of firm, financial breadth, and organizational structure. Because of this, a CSO, along with leadership, should ensure that the CSO’s role is well defined. Within the context of CSO work, four general archetypes exist: a portfolio manager, a CEO delegate, a strategic orchestrator, and an internal consultant. However, it should be noted that a CSO can work in one or more of these capacities in fluidity.
Successful CSOs exhibit certain traits that allow them to take on such diverse challenges:
Capable of multitasking
Diverse skill set
Broad knowledge base
Comfortable with uncertainty
Chief Strategy Officer Work Environment
Since CSOs are a part of business leadership, they work wherever C-level executives work. This includes the following industries:
Corporations and enterprises
Financial lending institutions
Local, state, and federal government agencies
Radio and television broadcasting
Grant-making and giving services
Lenders of non-financial tangible assets
Pipeline transportation and production of natural gas and oil
Securities and commodity brokerage and intermediation
Computer and equipment manufacturing
Cable and other subscription programming
CSOs work in an office environment, typically having their own private office, although they rarely work independently. Their work hours are that of regular businesses; however, many work into the evening and on weekends. Travel may be necessary, depending on the industry.
Chief Strategy Officer Salary
The median annual salary of a CSO in the United States is $157,860. Their salaries range depending on geographic location, industry, and experience. They can earn anywhere between $88,920 and $238,544, annually. However, salary may be the minimum level of earnings for CSOs; they can acquire income through investment shares in the company and bonuses. Those who work for non-profit organizations or government agencies will most likely receive less financial benefits.
Chief Strategy Officer Career Outlook
The job growth of a CSO is on par with other top executives—at 11 percent. The growth for chief executives is predicted to be only 5 percent, which is less growth than that of the average occupation in the U.S. While there is always a need for executives to run companies, especially regarding strategic planning, the demand is less for individuals in chief executive positions, especially of large firms.
Although the competition among top executives is strong, talented and experienced CSOs will be in demand. An individual can increase his or her chances for employment as a CSO by obtaining an advanced degree or certification. Additionally, CSOs typically have 10 or more years of operational experience.
Chief Strategy Officer Degree
Most companies require a bachelor’s degree of their CSOs; however, an advanced degree and many years’ experience will elevate an individual’s opportunities, benefits, and salary.
Step 1: Obtain a bachelor’s degree. CSOs can earn bachelor’s degrees in a variety of business-related programs. A degree in business, sales, marketing, finance, accounting, or other relevant field will provide the necessary training for strategic planning. It is important that an individual find a program with a concentration related to his or her industry of employment. A career in healthcare, insurance, investments, and government agencies will change the role of a CSO. The following are typical degrees with a marketing concentration:
Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Business – General
Bachelor of Science in Business – Marketing
Bachelor of Science in Marketing
Bachelor of Science in Sports Marketing and Media
Step 2: Obtain a master’s degree. For those looking to work in more advanced positions or for companies that have a competitive hiring stance, it is beneficial to have an advanced degree. Because a CSO typically has many years’ experience before moving to more advanced positions, it is a good idea to gain work experience while going to school. Again, depending on the industry, an individual should specialize. Many concentrations are available. The following degrees are typical within marketing:
Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) – General
Master of Business Administration – Marketing
Master of Science (M.S.) – Internet Marketing
Step 3: Obtain certification. While not necessary, becoming certified as a strategic professional may help an individual increase salary, receive a promotion, or improve his or her chances of employment. Although strategic planning cannot be taught in its entirety—it is often seen as a position that requires natural talent and skill—the Association of Strategic Planning (ASP) offers the following credentials: