How To Become a Vice President of a Company in 8 Steps
Updated June 30, 2023
Effective management teams can help companies remain innovative within the market, promote organizational values and goals and implement strategic solutions that advance the company's mission. Vice presidents are an integral part of most management teams. If you're interested in becoming a vice president of a company, it's often helpful to review the skills, qualifications and responsibilities associated with the position. In this article, we explain what a vice president does, list skills that can be helpful in the role and provide steps you can take to achieve the title of vice president.
The vice president of a company is responsible for a variety of leadership tasks, including meeting with the organization's board of directors and tracking company operations and performance.
A variety of hard and soft skills allow them to succeed in their role, including problem-solving, leadership, communication and analysis.
To maximize your candidacy for a vice president role, begin by earning a bachelor's degree in a relevant field such as business management or marketing. Then gain industry experience to hone your skills and become a director within an organization.
What does a vice president of a company do?
The vice president can perform various functions for the businesses they work for, including overseeing operations, implementing strategy and communicating with the board of directors about company performance. As a senior leader within a company, vice presidents often serve as the second or third in the company's chain of command. Typically, one step beneath a CEO or president, vice presidents manage high-level aspects of the company's business processes and might represent the company in front of the board of directors and the public. They aim to promote the organization's goals and influence company-wide strategies and initiatives.
In larger companies, there are sometimes multiple vice presidents. They might oversee entire departments or branches of the organization, like IT, finance, global operations, HR or sales. While the responsibilities of vice presidents can vary, they typically include:
Communicating company goals with directors and other senior leaders
Preparing reports and performance reviews for the company president or board members
Approving hiring decisions, budget proposals or large spending requests
Meeting with department heads to discuss their teams' performance
Representing the company in front of the public
Designing management strategies
Evaluating the effectiveness of current processes and operations
Implementing business development initiatives
Making business decisions on behalf of the company
Staying up to date on industry developments, competitor activities and market opportunities
Ensuring company viability by creating and executing innovative strategies and updating goals
What skills does a company vice president need to have?
To perform their jobs successfully, there are many skills that can help vice presidents in their roles. These include:
As company executives, leadership skills are essential for vice presidents. Being able to manage well and garner respect within their organizations can help them implement new strategies and successfully engage their teams. When employees and director-level executives trust the leadership of their vice president, they're more likely to contribute to new ideas and encourage the success of new initiatives.
If there are areas of an organization's operations that aren't meeting performance standards, vice presidents need to use their problem-solving skills to identify the cause of the issue and create successful strategies aimed at improving company processes. To do this, they might have to revise budgets, hiring practices, training processes or management techniques. The solutions they implement can have a major effect on the company's vitality and long-term success.
Communication is another helpful skill for vice presidents. In their work, they often communicate with other company executives, board members and department leaders. Remaining transparent and guiding teams toward company goals can influence how successful they are in their roles. Good communication techniques allow them to relay high-level messages, report on the success of the company and ensure department leaders are implementing strategies effectively.
Related: A Guide to Executive Business Titles
Also helpful in the role of vice president, analytical skills can help them evaluate processes and key performance indicators to determine the company's position in the market. If aspects of the company's operations fall beneath set thresholds, these skills can also help them determine the cause of the shortcoming. By analyzing management techniques, financial decisions and productivity, vice presidents can maintain a comprehensive view of the company's health and market viability. Analyzing market trends can also help them adjust their own operations where they deem appropriate.
Vice presidents often make high-level decisions for their companies. This could involve deciding to change the financial direction of a company, entering legally binding agreements with new partners or altering hiring practices. Vice presidents need to ensure the decisions they make support the overall goals of their organization and further their company's mission. Because the role holds so much deciding power, CEOs and board members must trust their vice presidents to make informed and strategic choices that benefit the company and its stakeholders.
How to become a vice president of a company
If you're interested in becoming the vice president of a company, here are some steps you can take:
1. Earn a degree
The first step to becoming a vice president of a company is to earn a degree. While not all management positions require a college degree, they can help you expedite your career and qualify you for higher-level opportunities right away. The degree you earn can depend on the industry you're most interested in working in. Business, economics or finance degrees can be safe options if you plan to enter the corporate world. Whatever degree you pursue, seek courses that help develop the skills you may use as a vice president. These might include:
2. Gain experience in your desired field
Consider finding a job in the field you plan to work in and gaining valuable work experience. This can help you learn more about the industry, qualify you for future positions and develop your resume. In your role, learn all you can about the company's hierarchies and organizational structure. While working, aim to promote the company's values and show your leadership skills. This can attract the attention of your supervisors and prove you're a promising candidate with ambitious career goals.
3. Develop management skills
By exceeding expectations and working hard to contribute to the company's goals, you can often qualify for management opportunities. When serving in a management role, make mental notes of effective leadership strategies and techniques. These can help you later as you grow the size of your teams and lead larger groups of employees.
4. Pursue continuing education opportunities
While optional, advanced degrees can improve your resume and qualify you for additional opportunities within your company or elsewhere. Consider pursuing a master's degree in business or management. The skills you learn in your studies can apply to a future position where you may need to understand market trends, industry tactics or advanced leadership strategies. Often, you can work toward a degree while working and can continue to develop your career and grow your skills in your current position.
5. Grow your resume
With management experience, an advanced degree and proven leadership skills, develop your resume to reflect all that you've accomplished. In your work, track the progress of the initiatives you implement. For example, if you adjust your department's operations in a way that benefits the company, include these in your resume. The more quantitative data you can include, the better. Note how your management strategies influence your team and your company and use these to boost your resume and let prospective employers see the value you add to your organization.
For example, if you implement new business development techniques that bring in 15% more revenue for the company, add those data points to your resume. Another example could be changing suppliers and saving on overhead costs or restructuring a department to enhance the team's productivity. The quantitative statistics you include make it easier for employers to see the affects you can have on an organization and encourage them to consider you for senior management positions.
6. Become a director
As the director of a department, you oversee other managers and make high-level business decisions for your team. Director-level positions often report to vice presidents and other executives. Communicating directives from vice presidents and senior leaders within your companies can help you gain valuable skills you'll need in a vice presidential role.
7. Review the position's job qualifications
At varying points in your career, look for vice president opportunities. By reviewing job descriptions and applying your existing knowledge of the industry, you can decide if you want to work for a smaller company where there is a single vice president or if you want to work for a larger company where you'd work alongside other vice presidents and manage a specific aspect of the company's operations.
For smaller companies, it's often helpful to develop a relationship with the president or CEO. That's because these roles are often partnerships where the president trusts the vice president to make effective decisions on their behalf and represent the company well. For larger companies, review the qualifications they look for in a vice president. They might ask candidates to have experience at the director level or to meet degree requirements. Use job postings to adjust your resume and ensure you have all the skills and qualifications you need to apply for a position as a vice president.
8. Apply for a vice presidential role
When you're ready, apply for opportunities as a vice president. Emphasize your management experience and company contributions to show prospective employers how you could improve their business. You might see companies post their senior executive positions online, or you might hear about opportunities from within your network. Try to look for companies with size, management structures and goals that support your skills and align with your values. This can help ensure your success and help you find fulfillment in your position.
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