Executive Vice President vs Senior Vice President

A vice president is a key figure in an organization that holds important duties and responsibilities which varies depending on the entity he or she belongs to. This can be in the government, a corporation, a non-profit organization or an institution. This position is not merely being the second-in-command after the president but a title that encompasses a lot of roles.

A small company can make do without one with the Chief Operating Officer or the business owner handling managerial and Human Resource functions while some only have one vice president. However, larger organizations and corporations usually have several vice presidents for each department and a senior and/or executive vice president who all report directly to the president and also are the ones to convey what the president has to say to members of the organization or company. In some cases, a vice president is next in line in case the president vacates the position. An executive vice president is different from a senior vice president although both have similarities as well. Before we tackle these two, let us first discuss the roles of a vice president.

1. Top Managerial Executive

One aspect of the organization which a vice president oversees is the selection of people who are candidates for job positions in the company as well as the budget for employees’ compensation and wages. Although he or she does not have to know the daily activities in the Human Resource Department, a vice president has a say on who to be hired by the company and coordinates with the hiring executives, at times, giving the final interview to candidates for important positions. He or she also plays an important role in boosting the morale of employees and keeping them engaged by creating incentive programs.

2. Department Head

Presidents and CEOs are in charge of the overall operations of the company while vice presidents are on top of specific departments in an organization, specifically performance of the operations. A vice president has to know what goes on in the department, the accountability to the president when it comes to how a particular department performs. Being a department head, he or she uses skills and knowledge to ensure there is coordination among departments and objectives are met.

3. Second-in-Command

One of important roles of a vice president is reporting directly to the president about developments and challenges in the company. This, perhaps, is one of the most significant aspects of having this position since this executive has to know what is going on within the company. On the other hand, a vice president is also the one who has the role of relaying pertinent information the President or the Board wants the different departments to know like major changes.

With regard to the titles of executive vice president and senior vice president, these are executive positions that are basically on the upper levels of the hierarchy of vice presidents. And although there are really no accurate definitions of these titles since there can be a number of vice presidents and executives in a large company performing different functions and responsibilities, they are important members of any organization.

Executive Vice President

An executive vice president ranks higher than a senior vice president in the hierarchy of vice presidents. He or she is the second-in-command after the president. As an executive, he or she has the authority to make major decisions for the company as well as takes the place of the president if the position becomes vacant. Moreover, an EVP usually is on top of the other vice presidents including the senior vice president in the organization. While some vice presidents can be on top of specific departments, including overseeing overall performance of the team, EVPs do not hold specific functions in the organization except being the authority above other VPs.

Senior Vice President

The position a senior vice president holds is sometimes created as an acknowledgment of years of service of a particular executive by being with the company for, say, 18 years. He or she can also be on top of other VPs of different departments with two or more VPs reporting to him or her. SVPs can also be in particular departments like marketing, operations or sales so there will be a distinction among executives. He or she can also be responsible for an entire department, a tough job since failure of the department is his or her responsibility. What makes this job more challenging is the focus needed on being a significant member of the executive management and gearing the direction of the organization towards meeting its objectives and goals.

Differences and Similarities

It is important to note that the roles and functions of both EVPs and SVPs differ depending on the entities they are connected with. An SVP for Finance in a financial institution might play a different role with that of the SVP for Operations. Some corporations have this title given to executives as part of showing their gratitude for the service rendered by these key personnel and there are no other promotional positions they can be offered with. Executive Vice Presidents, on the other hand, have more consistent roles as being directly under the president and formulating strategies to achieve organizational goals.

Senior vice presidents can be included in the executive list of organizations or not. Microsoft, for example, removed the SVP title in the organization in 2011 and changed it to Corporate Vice President. They also have hundreds of executives in this position in Microsoft. The reason for the change was streamlining of the executive titles, making it easy for these executives to transition to new roles.

When it comes to similarities of functions and responsibilities, both the EVP and the SVP play significant roles in the organization, including, but not limited to overseeing the direction of specific departments under them, motivating employees and ensuring all departments work hand in hand towards their vision and mission. They also have the accountability on the overall performance of the teams as well as in the hiring of people who will be part of the organization. Both the EVP and the SVP should have the management skills and experience of being leaders, top executives who are great with handling people and creating strategic plans.