CSOs sometimes act as chief of staff to the CEO, especially in their interactions with the board of directors. The CSO prepares strategy presentations and conducts executive-level workshops and planning sessions. The CSO is also the primary liaison with external advisors and consultants to keep leaders informed of project progress. The CSO plays an advisory and negotiating role; he is a leader and executor, and has the responsibility to understand and formulate the corporate strategy from an operational point of view, as well as to ensure that strategic initiatives and the business portfolio are optimized to support the strategy.
The CSO must see the problems facing the company from as broad a perspective as the CEO does, and the CSO is often actively involved in daily operational projects and works closely with key personnel on business-critical initiatives to use proven leadership capabilities and support less senior team members with advice and delivery based on the CSO's high-capacity project management and execution engine. This unique experience requires a multitude of different operational experiences and must include being both a creative thinker and an influential collaborator. In many cases, CSOs can be responsible for overall business development, including identifying gaps in business portfolios or capabilities. Then, they make decisions about creating, buying, or partnering to better fill those gaps.
The chief strategy officer oversees the company's M&A agenda, strategic partnerships, joint ventures, and divestments. M&A's responsibilities include not only identifying, evaluating, structuring and executing operations, but also managing or supporting aspects related to the operation, such as funding and post-merger integration. The business development function can also encompass licensing agreements and venture capital investments that support the strategic agenda. CSOs are usually executives who have held various roles in various companies before taking up the position of CSO.
In the latter case, when asked why there is no chief strategy officer in the organization, the CEO will dismiss the idea that the position could add any value. A chief strategy officer (CSO) is an executive who normally reports to the CEO and has the primary responsibility for formulating and managing the strategy, including developing corporate vision and strategy, overseeing strategic planning, and leading strategic initiatives, such as M&A, transformation, partnerships, and cost reduction. Some companies award the title of chief strategist or commercial director to senior executives who occupy the most important strategic position.