What is a vice president?
After the president and CEO, the vice president role is often the second or third employee in command within a corporation. Some professionals hold both the president and CEO titles, thereby making the vice president second in command. They act as a leadership figure and may manage specific departments to help them reach goals.
Vice president role hierarchy
Just as there is an organizational hierarchy, there are different levels of vice presidents, depending on the industry.
The lower rungs include:
- Associate VP: This is a role seen mostly in higher education but can be in any industry where there are geographically separate locations, such as retail. They’re responsible for long-range planning and overseeing operations of specific geographical locations as well as program and staff development.
- Assistant VP: This position is akin to a regional director who oversees different areas in a business, such as marketing, HR or operations, and manages highly trained staff. In some cases, it’s used interchangeably with the Associate VP title.
- First VP: The FVP is a mainstay in the finance sector. This can be a designation given to someone who’s been promoted or demoted, depending on the organization. It can also be a promotion-in-place situation that’s more for recognition than for ascension.
Difference between the SVP and EVP
Senior vice president (SVP) and executive vice president (EVP) are two of the higher echelon positions.
- SVP: Someone in a regular VP role for a certain number of years could be eligible to be a senior VP. SVPs positions are strategic roles and may be responsible for full departments, making it more challenging.
- EVP: An EVP reports directly to the president or C-suite executives and has the power to make major company decisions. In cases where the president has moved on to another company or a higher position, the EVP would be the next in line to take those reins.
Both the SVP and the EVP are steps above the standard vice president role. They each handle department budgets, track success metrics and are close to the top job. The EVP role, however, is the higher step here because EVPs often have multiple SVPs who report directly to them.
Managing director vs. VP
In the world of finance, managing directors are the deal closers. They bring clients, crunch the numbers and oversee entire departments or divisions. Essentially, they are responsible for daily operations and report to C-suite executives, such as a CFO or the CEO. Managing directors are higher than a VP, but are rough equivalents of SVP or even EVPs in other industries.
Key skills, roles and responsibilities
Depending on the needs of the company, a vice president job description may inlcude any combination of strategic or day-to-day responsibilities. Below are some of the different skills, roles and responsibilities a vice president needs to be successful.
Key skills of a vice president
A vice president should know how to properly lead and motivate team members to ensure employees feel valued.
Here are some important skills a vice president should possess:
- Communication and listening: The vice president’s job description requires knowing how to communicate with many audiences, including other members of the leadership team, clients, board members and employees. They must be available and willing to listen to any problems team members may face and help them to overcome any obstacles.
- Public speaking and presentation: Vice presidents are often responsible for brainstorming ways to change and innovate the company. They often act as the spokesperson for the company and may regularly present company ideas in front of small or large groups. They must hold strong public speaking and presentation skills to keep audiences engaged and interested in their company and its products or services.
- Critical thinking and problem-solving: Since challenges arise regularly within an organization, the vice president might be the person team members rely on to help solve the problem. They should be able to think quickly to address issues and prevent any problems from affecting the company.
- Leadership and drive: Many vice presidents motivate teams to provide quality work and reach company goals. Being an effective leader and developing trusting relationships among colleagues can allow employees to feel encouraged to submit valuable projects.
Roles of the vice president
The vice president’s duties can vary based on the type of role they hold within a company.
Review the roles below to learn what tasks a vice president may be in charge of according to the company they work for:
- Small business: In a small business, a VP position often works directly under a president or CEO to complete any important executive-level tasks or plans that the president has less time to execute. The vice president and president often work together to make significant company decisions.
- Large corporation: In larger corporations, companies may hire a vice president to legally represent the company or attend board meetings. In other cases, they can work more directly with employees to build better engagement and company culture while the president or CEO handles external, big picture goals.
- Departmental vice presidents: Companies with many locations or departments may have different vice presidents to represent each. This executive works directly with each department or location to ensure it performs according to the goals set out by the overall strategic vision put forth from the top. They also work closely with their employees to build relationships and encourage collaboration. As a rule, VPs are known to have an open door policy for employees.
Related: How to Manage Employees
Responsibilities of the vice president
Traditionally, vice president job descriptions require overseeing the everyday functions and progress of employees.
Other typical responsibilities the vice president may take on include:
- Making important company decisions or commitments: A VP is often tasked with making important decisions that directly impact the company. They may also sign agreements or partnerships with other companies if the president or CEO allows them that power.
- Assisting in strategic goal setting: The president, vice president and other leaders may gather and set strategic goals for the company or certain departments. Once these goals are set, the vice president may work with the respective departments to ensure they properly implement them.
- Determining company success and deciding on improvements: Vice presidents stay updated on industry trends and changes as well as competitor performances. They compare these results to the success of the company and develop strategies to improve so it can stay ahead of the changes.
- Deciding on the budget for the department or company: Certain departments within a company require software or equipment to remain efficient. For example, the information technology department may need specialized software to improve its cybersecurity efforts and better protect company data. A vice president can decide which equipment to spend money on and how much to spend.
While the responsibility nuances depend on the industry, VPs are also traditionally responsible for giving job performance reports at board meetings.
Vice president FAQs
Below are a few frequently asked questions related to the qualifications of the vice president role.
What education is a vice president required to have?
Many employers expect vice presidents to hold at least a bachelor’s degree in business administration, business management or relevant fields. Employers may strongly prefer vice presidents who hold a master’s degree that proves their strong knowledge of business, management or other relevant areas of expertise.
How many years of experience are recommended for someone to take on the role of vice president?
A vice president should have vast prior experience in a leadership role or work within the department they lead. For example, a marketing vice president should have experience serving in a role within the marketing department. Many vice presidents should have around five to ten years of management and departmental experience to be qualified for the role.
Is the VP considered a C-level position?
C-level positions are reserved for those with chief roles, such as chief operating officer. Vice presidents are known as V-level management, which are below C-level positions.
Average salary of the vice president role
Salaries vary due to location, experience and the vice president job description. However, base salary ranges from around $80,000 to over $200,000. Contracts can include profit sharing, bonuses and other incentives that can bring their package value closer to $300,000 or higher.