How To Hire a President

Company president speaking at an all staff meeting

Presidents are often roles found in almost every company.  A president is installed to help offload some of the workload carried by the CEO in growing or larger businesses.  This is often a somewhat similar role to a COO, but slightly more diverse in responsibility such as a continent or region leadership role in a multinational company.  For example: President of the Americas, Europe or APAC.

What is the role of a president?

The president of a company is often the most senior person who runs the business.  But if the company also has a CEO, the president would be second in command after the CEO.

The responsibility of the President may change depending on the type of business or size of the business.  Presidents are typically responsible for business operations and ensuring the company’s policies are applied effectively.

Typical Roles of a President

  • Leading the management team
  • Implementing the company’s strategy
  • Providing suggestions to the board of directors
  • Giving feedback to the board of directors
  • Watching over the budget and finances

Their Roles

The CEO or Chief Executive Officer, is the highest executive team member in the company.  The CEO is normally responsible for:

  • Increasing the value of the company
  • Delivering the final decision for complex business changes
  • Laying out the overall business strategy
  • Keeping the board of directors abreast of matters
  • Directing future planning for operations

The Presidents Most commonly a president Is the second in command to the CEO, like a VP of Marketing may be to a CMO.  They often manage the company’s corporate structure and employees while also making decisions on daily operations to drive revenue and success.  All actions are in line with the strategy and objects set by the CEO.

Key Differences Between a CEO and a President

One of the main distinctions between the roles is the business responsibilities.  The president is responsible for operational management and strategy.  In contrast, the CEO is tasked with deciding and pursuing the company’s mission, vision, and strategy and maintaining the business’s financial success.

Another difference is the level of hierarchy.  When there is a CEO and president within a single company, the CEO manages the president.  This means the CEO is the highest executive, and the president is the second in command.

There is also a difference in the perspective needed for each role.  Typically, the CEO needs to focus on the long-term objectives and strategy of the business.  This includes the strategy, vision, mission, and long-term goals.  The president is charged with the shorter-term objectives, including the company’s everyday operations and logistical details.

There are numerous differences between the role of CEO and president, including:

  • A CEO works toward maximizing wealth, while a president focuses on growing profits.
  • A CEO works to increase effectiveness while a president maximizes efficiency.    
  • A CEO is accountable for planning, while a president is responsible for implementation.
  • A CEO creates the vision for new strategies, while a president is responsible for bringing to life or executing those suggested actions.  
  • A CEO usually has the power to make final decisions for the company, While a president makes decisions about the human capital within the company.


Who Hires & Manages them?

The CEO is hired and overseen by the Board of Directors. Read our how to hire a CEO guide here.

Presidents are hired and managed by the CEO.

Who do they communicate with the most?

The CEO is the company’s figurehead, representing the company publicly and to the shareholders.  The role reports to the board of directors.

Presidents mainly communicate to the employees as they manage the internal daily workings of the business.  Communication to the board generally flows through the CEO.

How is Success Measured?

While a CEO Is often rewarded based on the performance of the company in their industry, the president is rewarded on how well the company executes the CEO’s vision.

Other Titles Associated with President in the Corporate Structure

  • President-elect: When a president is hired, they often are not put in place immediately.  So while the current standing one prepares to step down, they may be given this title as they are integrated into the company, and the duties are handed over.
  • Immediate past president: When the previous president steps down, they are often kept on as an advisor for the new president and given this title in communication.

What Do You Need Your President to do?

The hiring team will need to consider the long-term and short-term goals of the company to understand the candidate they will need.  Given the relationship between the president and CEO, the CEO must define the vision of the business before hiring the president(s).  To ensure you have the best candidate, consider where the business is in its lifecycle and the core tasks that need to be focused on.

With the vision and core tasks defined, you will be able to build a complete and compelling job description.

Where to find your president

There are many routes to find the talent you should explore.  However, with Executive Search, what prioritize will be quite different due to the limited talent available.  So you will need to do a wider search to ensure you find a selection of suitable candidates.  The main way companies find their next president is a combination of internal and external searches

Internal Hire

Appointing an internal candidate to be president can be promising as the candidates already have a successful track record and understand the company’s current standing.  They already fit the culture and have well-established relationships.  This will helo them ingrate faster into the role, demonstrating to other executives and employees that promotions and career development are possible.

Promoting someone internally requires a lot of succession planning to have occurred.  Typically a successor to a president role comes from years of grooming someone.  If your company is fortunate enough to have successor candidates, appointing internal candidates has a high chance of success statistically than bringing in an outside executive.


Your leadership or your board of directors might know of great candidates.  Asking for a recommendation can be an extremely successful method for sourcing a new president.  But in a fast-growth company, it can be limited due to the number of people and regional expertise you may need.

External Hire

If hiring an external candidate is decided, I suggest you partner with a professional.  Advertising a vacancy at this level could negatively impact your brand and your company’s health. 

Executive Search Firms

Executive search can be an exhausting process.  It takes a business, on average, 76 days to replace a President that leaves without notice.  Given this, it can be a significant distraction for the company, and this distraction could go on for three months or longer.  An executive search firm can help you hasten the process and find top talent otherwise unavailable to you.

An executive search firm can use its knowledge and skill to manage the entire recruitment process on your behalf.  They will help mitigate the risk of a bad hire.  Finding a President is complex, and offloading the intense work to a firm like Boyden will allow you to remain attentive to your business.

Need help with your Presidential search? Contact me. I have 25+ yrs of experience working with Boyden working as a Managing Partner.  We have executive search specialists focusing on revenue-related positions with experience in almost every industry in 43 countries worldwide.

president leading their team


How To Compensate a President?

Presidents often have set salaries plus bonuses and usually some form of long-term incentives.  The compensation is directly tied to the size and age of the business.  According to Payscale, the average US company president earns a total compensation of $72,000 to $370,000 yearly, with an average being $160,960.

This is a huge range and shows the largely varying role a president can have.

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