What Does a Vice President Do?

Know Your Role: The Responsibilities of a Company Vice President

The vice president job bears a lot of responsibility and accountability in each area of an organization.
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Question: What Does a Vice President Do?

Answer:  A vice president (VP) is generally the second or third in command in an organization. This depends on whether the person who is the president and the person who is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) have separate titles and roles. Many times in an organization, the title of president and CEO are held by one person which makes VPs second in command.

The vice president has specific responsibilities depending on the needs of his or her organization.

Thus, these job responsibilities vary from organization to organization.

As with any level of management in an organization, the vice president's role starts with the fundamental job responsibilities of a manager. These are the basic oversight responsibilities of anyone who operates in an organization as a manager with reporting staff members. Start with these to understand the role of a vice president.

More Than One Individual Holds the Vice President's Position

Unlike the roles of CEO or president, organizations usually have more than one individual who is acting in the vice president job. The larger the organization, the more VPs you can expect to see. To provide career paths for senior leaders and to manage organizational functions, the VP title is earned by leaders as their position moves up the organization chart.

So, for example, in a company, you will find a VP of finance, a VP of marketing, a VP of operations, a VP of sales, a VP of HR, and a VP of technology, to name just a few.

In these situations, the senior VP is often given the title of senior VP or executive VP and the other VPs may report to him or her or to the president or CEO. In any case, the person designated senior VP is second in command to the president.

In some cases, the VP will hold responsibility for several departments in an organization.

You might see a VP of sales and marketing, for example, with a director of sales and a director of marketing reporting to him while he or she reports to the president. The senior position, director, designates responsibility for a function such as marketing.

In some cases, the VP is also recognized as an officer of the company which brings additional authority, responsibility and accountability to his or her doorstep. But, even your non-officer role of the vice president bears significant responsibility, accountability, and authority within an organization.

Consequently, the VP has these additional responsibilities.

Responsibilities of a Vice President (VP)

  • Participating on the president or CEO-led team that creates the organization's ​overall vision, mission, values, beliefs, and strategic goals.
  • Creating, communicating and implementing the organization’s vision, mission, and overall direction within his or her areas of responsibility such as the finance department or HR.
  • Leading, guiding, directing, and evaluating the work of other executive leaders including assistant vice presidents, senior directors, and managers.
  • Formulating and implementing the strategic plan that guides the direction of their business or their area of functional responsibility, such as developing the marketing strategic plan, in addition to implementing the overall strategic direction.
  • Achieving the organization's overall strategic goals and contributing to the sales and profitability requirements of the business as determined by the strategic plans.
  • Forming, staffing, guiding, leading and managing an organization of sufficient capability and size to accomplish the vice president's responsibilities and job requirements.
  • Overseeing the complete operation of an organization in accordance with the direction established in the strategic plans.
  • Evaluating the success of the organization. Does the organization achieve the overall success that was budgeted for, planned for, and strategically aimed to accomplish? If not, why not? And, if not, answer the question about how to get the organization back on track.
  • Maintaining awareness of both the external and internal competitive landscape, opportunities for expansion, customers, markets, new industry developments and standards, and so forth. Generally, seeking to stay in tune with any opportunities that the organization can leverage.
  • Performing other responsibilities as assigned by the president or the CEO.

You will find the final objective appears in most job descriptions. It is set to allow the boss of the position to assign any other responsibilities, that may not have been foreseen, that can help the organization achieve success. It is not an opportunity to run rough shod over a person's time and contribution.

So, for example, the VP of marketing leaves the organization. The president might assign the VP of sales to oversee marketing during the six months it will take them to replace the individual who served in this senior role. In most situations, a director of marketing would still run the department day-to-day and receive only oversight from the acting VP, his new boss temporarily.

As you can see, the job of a VP is broadly charged with doing senior level leadership within an organization. In fact, the VP oversees what is essentially a mini-company that is part of the larger overall organization. You will want to see more about the role of a VP.

Take a look also, at the job responsibilities of the other positions that were linked thoughout this article to add to your overall understanding about how organizations are structured and staffed.