Self-importance is human nature, and with good reason. While everyone aspires for career development, some of us get stuck on one stage or another as we climb the corporate ladder. If you work for a living, you probably know plenty of people who, literally the world revolves around them. They make the most important decisions in the company, command huge bucks, enjoy extra benefits, and have the best offices. There jobs determine the trajectory of the company, and therefore their jobs are the most important ones in the organisation.
Here are the top 10 job functions that are most valuable to a typical corporation.
These days it’s popular to dump on C-level executives as overpaid, overhyped, greedy capitalist types that fly around in corporate jets and make just as much money when they screw up and get fired as they do when they’re actually getting the job done. That may be true, but CEOs are still the most important people in the company. The buck stops there.
2. Senior executive
Contrary to what most people think, those who report directly to the CEO generally have direct responsibility for running their respective functions of the company. Nevertheless, there’s still a pecking order among senior executives. Since the chief financial officer also signs SEC documents, meaning she may very well join her boss in prison in the case of accounting fraud, the CFO is pretty much next in line, right up there with the chief operating officer or president, if they exist.
3. General manager
If you run a business line and have profit and loss, or P&L, responsibility, that not only puts you right up there with members of the executive management team, you’re actually more important than those who run administrative functions, such as human resources and information technology.
4. Product manager
I know a lot of you think engineers are responsible for inventing great products that beat the competition. They’re not. Marketing must invent complete products and drive them to commanding positions in defensible market segments. Product marketers rarely get the credit they deserve.
5. Product development
No matter how good marketing is, you can’t have innovative products without innovative product development people. You don’t need a management title to be looked upon with awe if you’re a top product designer. And yes, that idyllic perception is usually deserved.
Sales is responsible for winning and keeping customers, which is the primary function of every company. So it is written and so it is true. Not to mention that sales is responsible for revenue generation, which is also sort of hard to do without. That’s why salespeople make the big bucks.
In business-to-business service-oriented companies, consultants work directly with customers on a broad range of functions from integrating and customizing technical products to solving critical strategic or management problems. In those types of companies, consultants are responsible for successful customer outcomes, which is where the rubber meets the road.
8. Customer service
Although they’re typically part of the sales organization, I wanted to specifically call out customer service. Anyone who works in direct contact with customers helping them resolve issues is on the hook for whether customers walk away satisfied and become repeat customers or not. The fact that they tend to be relatively low-paying jobs says something about corporate priorities, does it not?
Regardless of where you work in an organization – operations, manufacturing, public relations, human resources, information technology, wherever – if you innovate, you’re valuable. That can mean anything from coming up with an idea that improves productivity to helping the company save money. In a hypercompetitive global market, companies that empower employees and encourage them to make a difference will outperform the pack.
Most people have no idea what controllers do. In general, they’re the highest ranking accounting professional for a product line, region, division or the entire company. That means they’re responsible for budgeting, auditing, reporting and financial performance. It’s a really big deal.