Understanding the Role of the Chief Strategy Officer

By Nicolas Kachaner and Sam Stewart

In our work with chief strategy officers (CSOs), four questions invariably arise: What are the typical CSO responsibilities? Why are some CSOs more effective than others? How should CSOs work with line executives? And, finally, what role should the strategy department play in developing future leaders within the business? We’ve observed that roles and responsibilities vary among companies and industries, but to better quantify the differences—and to definitively answer these questions—we embarked on a series of in-depth interviews with 48 CSOs of companies from around the world, in a wide range of industries: consumer products, industrial goods, financial services, energy, technology, media, and telecommunications. Just over half of the CSOs we interviewed report to the CEO, although this is less likely to be the case at larger companies and in the financial sector.

Our interviews explored CSO responsibilities, team composition and size, how CSOs work with other parts of the business, and other key success factors.