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What Is a CPO?

Every organization has a hierarchy to establish order. There is a hierarchy within Product Managers as well. The top of the pyramid of Product Managers would be a Chief Product Officer (CPO). They generally manage a group of Product Managers. So what is a CPO exactly?

CPO Definition

In short, a Chief Product Officer is responsible for hiring fantastic Product Managers, sharing the overall vision, and making sure the rest of the Product Managers are on the same page. They also have to make sure that the strategy each product team has is accurate while overseeing that no problems are occurring with each teams’ decisions. They are also responsible for explaining the product story to all the stakeholders in order to keep support for the projects coming. CPOs also build the business culture so as to keep the talent that is recruited. 

Who Is the CPO?

Typically there is not a CPO in a small-sized company, as there will only be one or two Product Managers. There might be a CPO in a medium-sized company, and there is always a CPO in a large-sized company. 

Within a medium-sized company, the Product Managers will usually report directly to the Chief Product Officer. However, in a large-sized company, there will be Product Directors who gather reports from the Product Managers stationed beneath them. The Product Directors will then report to the CPO. Shown below is a representation of what the general structure looks like:

CPOs have a lot on their plate since they have a lot of heavy responsibilities. It is crucial that the CPO has great communication, organizational, leadership and analytical skills to make sure that the workflow goes smoothly.

Want to learn more about the inner-working of the product management hierarchy and how you can move up the product ladder? Set up a free career coaching session with one of our in-house PM experts: we’re here to answer your questions and help you kickstart your career in product management.