A chief strategy officer (CSO) is an executive, that usually reports to the CEO, and has primary responsibility for strategy formulation and management, including developing the corporate vision and strategy, overseeing strategic planning, and leading strategic initiatives, including M&A, transformation, partnerships, and cost reduction. Some companies give the title of Chief Strategist or Chief Business Officer to its senior executives who are holding the top strategy role.

The need for a CSO position may be a result of CEOs having less time to devote to strategy and/or to CEO's with less experience with developing strategy (e.g., many start up CEOs) along with uncertain and increasingly complex global environments. All of these factors increase the need for professional strategy development.[1][2] As a result, the position can be seen in fast moving Tech companies, Entrepreneurial Tech Startups, academic, nonprofit and corporate organizations.[3][4] In recent years, the CSO position increased in popularity in highly professional companies with significant growth and scalability ambitions, which is reflected by the high number of US tech companies (nearly 50% of S&P 500 firms) who created CSO positions in their top management teams.[5] According to a 2013 IBM survey, 67% of CEOs named the CSO as a crucial role–second only to the CFO, and more recent examples and studies by major recruiting firms have shown that CSOs had the highest growth in C-Suite positions being directly elevated to the CEO position.[6][7]


The CSO is an advisory and a deal making role; both a leader and doer, with the responsibility for understanding and formulating corporate strategy from an operational point of view, as well as ensuring that strategic initiatives and the corporate portfolio of businesses are optimized to support the strategy. The CSO must see the issues confronting the company from as broad a perspective as the chief executive does, and the CSO is often heavily involved in operational day-to-day projects working close together with key staff on business critical initiatives in order to utilise proven leadership capabilities and support less senior team members with coaching and deliver based on the CSO's high capacity project management and execution engine.[8] This unique background takes a multitude of different operating experiences, and must include being both a creative thinker and influential collaborator.[9] In quite a few cases, CSOs may be charged with overall business development including identifying gaps in the business or capabilities portfolios. They then make build, buy, or partner decisions to best fill those gaps. The Chief Strategy Officer oversees the company's M&A agenda, strategic partnerships, joint ventures, and divestitures. M&A responsibilities include not only identifying, evaluating, structuring and executing deals, but also managing or supporting related aspects to the deal such as financing and post-merger integration. The business development role can also encompass licensing deals and venture capital investments that support the strategic agenda.[10] CSOs are often executives who have worn many hats at a variety of companies before taking on CSO position.[11][12]

Typical CSO responsibilities include:[13][14]

As a senior strategic leader, collaborate with other functions within the organization, specifically:

In terms of the CSO's role, which varies significantly from organization to organization and evolves over time, the two basic roles strategy developer and strategy implementer are observable.[15] This dichotomy can be further divided into four CSO archetypes.[16]


CSOs often hold more advanced degrees, commonly a Master of Business Administration (MBA). Many executives holding the top strategy spot have had extensive experience in strategy development often at top management consulting firms, where they can obtain strategy experience across a broad spectrum of industries, c-suite teams, and strategic problems.[17][18][19] In addition, many chief strategy officers also have backgrounds outside of strategy such as P&L management, operations, or corporate development in addition to their strategy experience.[20][21] An HBR study found that the most successful CSOs have some planning, functional, or line-management skills in addition to their core strategy skills before assuming the top strategy role.[22]

Chief Global Strategist

A Chief Global Strategist (CGS) is one of the highest-ranking corporate officers, administrators, corporate administrators, executives, or executive officers, in charge of the global strategy and the domestic and international expansion of a corporation, company, organization, or agency.

The position is relatively new in the private sector, and a reflection of the influence of globalization upon companies and other organizations that seek to expand their influence, whether as a matter of necessity to survive, or the exploration of an opportunity.

A prominent example of a CGS is Howard Schultz of Starbucks Corporation who was Chairman and CEO; however, in 2000 he left the position of CEO to become the Chief Global Strategist. Schultz returned to his previous role as CEO on January 18, 2008.(http://www.starbucks.com/about-us/company-information/starbucks-company-timeline\ | access-date=26 September 2016 | publisher=Starbucks.com)


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