Every organisation/company has a hierarchy/structure where some members of staff are more senior, powerful or important than others. For example, a manager in a factory is more senior or powerful than a normal worker.

In the English-speaking world the job titles of positions in a corporate hierarchy/structure change not only between different countries but also between companies. It is very confusing, not only for learners of English, but also for native speakers.

In this online exercise, we will look at the business English titles of the different positions in a corporate hierarchy/structure and the differences in seniority.

Click here to see more of our free online exercises on business and work vocabulary


Exercise: Explaining the corporate hierarchy

Read the conversation between Juan and Peter, where Peter explains the different job titles in their company hierarchy/structure.

From the context, try to guess what the meaning of the words/phrases in bold are. Then do the quiz at the end to check if you are right.

Juan:'Peter, have you seen the global email about the restructuring of the company. It says that the Board of Directors are going to make an announcement by the end of the month. What is the Board of Directors?'

Peter:'The Board of Directors or as it is often called The Board, is the group of people who make the big decisions about the company. About what we do and how we do it.'

Juan:'So they are the owners of the company?'

Peter:'In some companies yes, but in our case because we're a large multinational, no. Here, they are employed by the owners, the shareholders, to oversee or supervise the company for them. The board is non-executive, which means they aren't involved in the day-to-day running of the company. The most important member of The Board is called the Chairman, in some companies the Chairman is called the President.'

Juan:'So, if they don't run or manage the company, who does?'

Peter:'In our company the person responsible for the day-to-day running of the company is the Managing Director. They are the most senior manager in a company. In the United States, they are normally called the Chief Executive Officer.'

Juan:'So, what does a Finance Director do? Are they non-executive also?'

Peter:'No, a Finance Director is the job title for a senior manager who is responsible for the Finance Department. They are less senior than the Managing Director or Chief Executive Officer, who they have to report to. Normally, the boss or head of each department is called a Director, like Sales Director or IT Director. In America, the title of this position is Chief Financial Officer etc...'

Juan:'I think I understand. So under them in the company structure you have Managers, like us. And under the Managers, you have Supervisors. Is that right?'

Peter:'Basically. Although today it is more common to call a Supervisor, a Team Leader. They make sure that staff are doing what they should. Then under them, you have Analysts and Assistants, who don't have any management responsibilities. In theory the job title of Analyst is for a position where they have to analyse information or data, for example a Business Analyst analyses data to find trends. An Assistant is the general job title for a normal member of staff, like a Customer Care Assistant. But the title of the position depends on the company.'




Quiz: Corporate/Business hierarchy vocabulary

Below is a definition/description of each of the words/phrases in bold from the above text. Now fill in the blanks with one of these words/phrases in bold. Only use one word/phrase once and write it as it is in the text. Click on the "Check answers" button at the bottom of the quiz to check your answers.

When the answer is correct, two icons will appear next to the question which you can press/click on. In the first icon, , you can find extra information about the word/phrase (e.g. when, where and how to use etc...) and a Spanish translation. In the second, , is where you can listen to the word/phrase and do a pronunciation test (to make sure you can say it correctly).


1.

The American job title for the top executive manager in a company, is

         

Chief Executive Officer:
(noun) It is also called by its initials CEO. Basically, it is the highest executive position and runs the business for the Board of Directors and owners. In theory the CEO is an employee and not an owner. This title is mainly used in the US and Canada, but it is becoming more widely used in other countries. The CEO performs the same role as the Chief Executive or the Managing Director, although the role of a Managing Director can be different. In Spanish: "jefe ejecutivo/director ejecutivo".

Close

Chief Executive Officer:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

Close

2.

The title of the lowest positions in a company, is

         

Assistants:
(noun) The majority of staff in the service industry are assistants. They are the lowest positions in the hierarchy/structure in an office. Normally, the title of their work is added in front of 'assistant', e.g. Sales Assistant, Administrative Assistant, Care Assistant etc... Some companies use other job titles for the same positions. In Spanish: "Asistentes".

Close

Assistants:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

Close

3.

The name of the people who have shares in a company, is

         

Shareholders:
(noun) When a company is a Public Limited Company (plc), the owners of a company are the people that own shares in the company. They are called shareholders. In Spanish: "accionistas".

Close

Shareholders:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

Close

4.

The most senior/top person on the Board of Directors, is called the

         

Chairman:
(noun) Also called the 'Chairperson'. In America the Chairman is often called the 'President'. This is the most senior/top position on the Board of Directors. It is a non-executive position, they don't run the company. See Board of Directors for more details on the role. In Spanish: "Presidente".

Close

Chairman:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

Close

5.

The job title of the staff that analyse information or data, is

         

Analysts:
(noun) In theory 'Analyst' is the title for staff who analyse data or information. But it is often the job title for everybody who isn't a manager that works in the Information Technology(IT) sector. Normally, the title of their work is added in front of 'analyst', e.g. IT Analyst, Financial Analyst etc... Some companies use other job titles for the same positions. In Spanish: "analistas".

Close

Analysts:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

Close

6.

The name of the group of people who represent the owners of the company, is the

         

Board of Directors:
(noun) It is also called 'the Board'. It is a group of people who look after the company for the owners. Their role is to make sure that the company is being run correctly and they can also make decisions about the company's strategies, They are non-executive, so they give their decisions to the Chief Executive Officer or Managing Director to be carried out/done in the company. In Spanish: "junta directiva".

Close

Board of Directors:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

Close

7.

The British title for the head of the finance department, is

         

Finance Director:
(noun) This is the most senior executive manager in a finance department. 'Director' is also used for similar positions in other departments, e.g. IT Director, Operations Director etc... This is used in Britain and Commonwealth countries. In Spanish: "director financiero".

Close

Finance Director:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

Close

8.

When somebody isn't involved in the daily running of a business, their role is

         

Non-Executive:
(noun) This is used for positions in a company where the people don't run the business. For example, the Board of Directors is 'non-executive'. The opposite is 'executive', the people who are in charge of running the company day-to-day. In Spanish: "no ejecutivo".

Close

Non-Executive:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

Close

9.

A different job title for Supervisor, is

         

Team Leader:
(noun) This is the job title for the lowest management level in companies. They make sure that the assistants or analysts are doing their job correctly. It depends on the company if they are called 'Teams Leaders' or 'Supervisors'. In Spanish: "lider del equipo/supervisor".

Close

Team Leader:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

Close

10.

The American title for the head of the finance department, is

         

Chief Financial Officer:
(noun) Also known as 'CFO'. It is the most senior executive manager in a finance department. This title is also used for similar positions in other departments, e.g. Chief Technical Officer, Chief Operations Officer . This title is mainly used in the US and Canada, but it is becoming more widely used in other countries. In Spanish: "director financiero".

Close

Chief Financial Officer:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

Close

11.

A different way to say 'my boss is', is

         

To report to:
(verb) It is a very professional verb to use. For example, a team leader reports to a manager, and a manager reports to a director. In Spanish: "estar bajo las órdenes de".

Close

To report to:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

Close

12.

The British job title for the top executive manager in a company, is

         

Managing Director:
(noun) Is also called the 'MD'. This is the highest executive position in a company and runs the business for the Board of Directors and owners. It is basically the same as the 'Chief Executive Officer' (CEO) or 'Chief Executive'. In theory the MD is an employee and not an owner, but in some companies they are also a member of 'The Board of Directors', unlike a CEO. The title of Managing Director is mainly used in the UK and Commonwealth countries (Australia etc...) In Spanish: "director ejecutivo/jefe ejecutivo".

Close

Managing Director:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

Close





Practice

Now that you understand the corporate hierarchy/structure vocabulary, practise it by creating your own sentences in English with the new words/phrases.