Monday, October 13, 2014

Um...chief OPERATING officer?

I was recently forwarded a copy of an article, and the top of the article told us a little about the author. While I have changed some of the personally identifying information, the substance of the blurb remains the same.

Mark Markson is chief operating officer at WidgetCorp, where he leads the company's worldwide sales team. Prior to becoming chief operating officer he was senior vice president of worldwide sales.

Now I have no problem with most of the statement above. Markson was a senior vice president, in charge of sales. Presumably Markson was doing a good job, or else he would have been fired. In fact, he was doing so good of a job that he deserved a promotion. While he was still running worldwide sales, Markson was elevated from the senior vice president level.


Chief Operating Officer.

Yes - Chief OPERATING Officer.

Now some of my best friends are salespeople, and I myself am involved in a sales role.

But I'd be reluctant to add "operating" to my title.

Even if everyone in WidgetCorp is truly part of one company, there's probably a clear divided between the salespeople and the "operating" people. When you think COO, you think of stuff in the plant, not out on the road. Take this COO:

Yesterday, the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) opened the 2014 Retail Asset Protection Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana with a keynote address from Rick Damron, Chief Operating Officer, Lowe’s Companies Inc. Addressing a crowd of almost 1000 asset protection professionals in attendance for the yearly educational and networking summit, Mr. Damron shared his perspective on the critical role of asset protection in delivering the overall customer experience, driving sales and customer satisfaction while mitigating risk.

Keep the doors locked and the cameras on to make sure our assets are protected. That kind of stuff.

Then again, perhaps I'm wrong. It turns out that my "Mr. Markson" isn't the only sales-oriented COO. Here's another one.

As Microsoft’s chief operating officer, Kevin Turner leads the company’s global sales, marketing and services organization of more than 47,000 employees in more than 190 countries. Under his leadership, the sales and marketing group delivered more than $78.6 billion in revenue in fiscal 2013. Turner oversees worldwide sales, field marketing, services, support and partner channels as well Microsoft Stores and corporate support functions including Information Technology, Worldwide Licensing & Pricing and Operations.

And another:

Su, 44, joined AMD in 2012. As chief operating officer, she handled product strategy, execution, sales and operations.

Well, if they would just promote Markson to CEO - or maybe have two CEOs like Oracle - then there wouldn't be any confusion about what he does.
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