Career Redefined: Corporate Vice President

Here, we take an inclusive look into a powerful career focus – the office of the corporate vice president. Dignified as the title sounds on a stand-alone basis, let’s presume an open readership for the sake of exploration.

Corporate VP - business smiling outside glass office door

As a basic role, the corporate VP position leaves little to the imagination. As a general rule, some of the primary duties that fall under the position are:

  • Second (or sometimes third, structure-dependent) individual in overall command of the enterprise
  • The VP title may also be used to represent the head of departments in formally segmented ventures within the business
  • In strongly public or vendor-facing businesses, the VP(s) is/are often responsible for customer engagement and satisfaction
  • An official officer of the organization, VPs have the authority to sign contracts and speak for the company itself


A VP, regardless of the organization or its unique structure, carries an immense responsibility for the enterprise; as such, the corporate vice president is an office to be chosen with great care and consideration.

Let’s explore three primary categories that should be present in any worthy candidate for the office:

  • Leadership

Naturally, strong and comprehensive leadership abilities form the crux of necessary qualities. Many attributes convene under this umbrella, but some that have proven the most vital to have present are: Personal integrity – one who has demonstrated a strong moral code and sense of ethics representative of the company itself. Team-oriented – the ability to find cohesion at all levels of a project and ensure everyone is working together both well and productively. Strategic and business-oriented vision – a demonstrated ability to think strategically and enact successful plans.

  • Communication

Strong communication skills are vital to essentially every role at any level in the corporate world, but the higher we set our sights, the more pronounced this necessity becomes. Successful arbitration requires both tact and insight; regardless if one is dealing with direct customers or potential partners. The ability to gather the disparate threads of thought and talent in a group and, with minimal effort, set them all toward the same goal is a trait not to be discounted.

  • A sense of humor

Yes, really; a sense of humor can be just as important as any of the noted attributes above and, in fact, all things being equal between two people possessing the requisite abilities; the decision will almost always favor the individual with a solid sense of humor. Surprisingly, this is not as frivolous as it may first seem. Consider that a strong sense of humor can successfully see one person through a trying day, while one without may end their day having snapped at half the building, made poor snap decisions, offhand judgments, or any other of the detrimental actions that come from a person in a tough position who simply takes him or herself too seriously.

Corporate VP - business woman smiling

What it takes

So now that we’ve discussed some aspects integral to the office, what is to be said for actually arriving there?

This section, to close the topic, will be addressed toward those of our readership interested in stepping up from a director or top management role into the established office of the corporate vice president.

Ron Beck, of Healthcare & Leadership Recruitment, has some excellent thoughts:

Be properly prepared: The background information and research (website perusal, blogs of various corporate officers, etc.) that would be more than sufficient for any other posting is not always sufficient for you here. Take additional steps; contact individuals in relevant verticals for their thoughts and suggestions regarding company challenges.  Any publically traded company will have a superfluity of reports which can lend valuable insight as to the current state of corporate operations.

Finally, you have to nail the interview as a personable and thoroughly competent professional.

In closing, consider these words from Executive Coach Rita Ashley:

“Understand that a Vice President is all about strategy whereas a Director is about tactics. Calibrate your vocabulary accordingly. Make absolutely certain you know and understand the target company’s corporate mission before you approach them. Tailor your remarks to include their mission.”

Fred Coon, CEO


At SC&C we offer Career Analysis to help senior decision-makers from all walks of life identify strategies and tactics to increase their value-add employment potential.