How to Become a Chief Strategy Officer in the US

Also known as chief strategists or directors of strategy, chief strategy officers help chief executive officers to create and implement strategies that can help companies achieve their objectives. Although this is a relatively new position, major companies such as Panasonic, Oracle Corporation and Cisco systems have already adopted it.

If you possess an advanced degree in business administration and excellent analytical, critical thinking and problem-solving skills, you could break into this profession with ease.

What do chief strategists do?

The primary duties of chief strategists include:

  • Working with the CEO and other top administrators to develop strategies for achieving various goals
  • Prioritizing the execution of various strategies – the most crucial strategies are implemented first
  • Creating an organization-wide planning framework
  • Educating the company’s workforce about strategy execution
  • Overseeing the implementation of various strategies
  • Forecasting challenges that can befall a certain strategy and providing adequate solutions
  • Leading and supervise a staff that may include strategy analysts and market researchers
  • Ensuring the company complies with all the relevant government regulations.

Work environment

When you become a CSO, you will work from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. You will perform the vast majority of your duties in a standard office environment. Holding meetings with senior managers will also be a key part of your job.

You will also be attending seminars and industry conferences often.


The salary for CSOs is:

Job level

Annual wage

Starting CSOs

$81,000 -$150,000

Experienced CSOS

$150,000 - $190,000

Senior CSOs

$190,000 - $220,000

Source: Payscale

Education and training

Although companies have different entry requirements for chief strategists, you need to have at least a bachelor’s degree in business administration, accounting or economics and vast management experience.

As such, after earning your bachelor’s degree, don’t bother looking for this job. Instead, find other entry-level jobs in your field and work your way to a position of leadership. Depending on your determination and your employer’s promotion structure, it may take you several years to start serving in a managerial capacity.

While working, you can pursue a master’s degree to enhance your knowledge. When you feel you are competent enough to become a CSO, then you can start hunting for the job. Since many companies are yet to create the position of a CSO, you will need to conduct some research to identify the companies that have this position before making an application.

Important qualities

To succeed as a chief strategy officer you must have:

  • Superior analytical and problem-solving skills
  • Strong teamwork and communication skills
  • Good leadership skills
  • Good organizational skills
  • Good project management skills
  • Good interpersonal skills
  • An interest in corporate governance.

Career development

As a CSO, you have a real chance of succeeding the people you advise or help run organizations effectively. It is not; however, an easy task to become the chief executive of a company. It takes vast experience, proven leadership abilities and advanced education to climb to the top seat.

Here are some of the strategies you can use to become the CEO

  • Gain vast work experience as a CSO
  • Earn a master’s degree, preferably in business administration
  • Earn professional certifications, such as the Certified CEO designation
  • Join professional associations, such as American Management Association.

Job opportunities

Qualified CSOs can find jobs in:

  • Nonprofit organizations
  • Large business entities
  • Higher institutions of learning
  • Large hospitals and hotels

Apart from the potential to become a CEO, you could also secure other senior management roles, such as deputy CEO or chief operating officer.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of many types of top executives will grow by 11 percent from 2012 to 2022. Although this is equal to the average growth for all jobs, aspiring CSOs may find it harder to find jobs since many companies are yet to integrate the position into their management structures. Don’t lose hope though. Attain all the qualifications, work hard and remember ...patience pays!