What Does a Vice President Do?

The Responsibilities and Role of a Company Vice President Are Defined

A vice president holds a significant management role on the senior leadership team.
••• Frederic Cirou / Getty Images

As you work your way up the corporate ladder, it helps to understand what higher-level job positions entail and whether this aligns with your own various career goals and desires. Are you interested in understanding the role and responsibilities of the vice president of an organization? The vice president (VP) of an organization is generally the second or third in command.

This command structure depends on whether the person who is the president and the person who is the chief executive officer (CEO) have separate titles and roles. In many organizations, the title of president and CEO are held by the same person. If that is the case, the VP is the second in command.

The vice president has specific responsibilities depending on the needs of his or her organization. Therefore, the job responsibilities of a VP can vary greatly from organization to organization.

The Role of the VP in an Organization

VPs often lead significant units, departments, or operations of a total organization such as VP of worldwide manufacturing in an automotive company. In another example, in an insurance organization, an individual might serve as the VP of Operational Risk Management. 

As with any level of management in an organization, the vice president's role starts with the fundamental job responsibilities of a manager. These are the basic oversight responsibilities of anyone in an organization that functions as a manager and has staff members reporting to them. 

Additionally, as the VP has advanced up the ranks of management positions in the organization, they have likely developed the managerial soft skills necessary to play a significant leadership role on the senior management team.

More Than One Person Holds the Role of Vice President

Unlike the roles of CEO or president, organizations usually have more than one individual who is acting as a vice president. The larger the organization, the more VPs you can expect to see. To provide career paths for senior leaders and to manage organizational functions, the VP title is bestowed upon leaders as their position moves up the organization chart.

For example, in many large organizations, you will find a VP of finance, a VP of marketing, a VP of operations, a VP of sales, a VP of HR, and a VP of technology, to name just a few.

In these situations, the most senior VP is often given the title of senior VP or executive VP and the other VPs may report to him or her or to the president or CEO. In any case, the person designated senior VP is second in command to the president.

In some cases, the VP is responsible for several departments in an organization. For example, you might have a VP of sales and marketing who has both a director of sales and a director of marketing reporting to them. 

The Main Difference of the Role

One of the main differences of the role of a VP is that the person who holds the position is also recognized as an officer of the company. This designation brings additional pay, authority, responsibility, and accountability to the role. 

For example, the title of VP signifies that this individual can sign documents and make commitments for the company for which the company is legally liable.

Responsibilities of a Vice President

One of the main responsibilities is participating on the president or CEO-led team that creates the organization's overall vision, mission, values, beliefs, and strategic goals. Other common responsibilities include:

  • Creating, communicating, and implementing the organization’s vision, mission, and overall direction within his or her areas of responsibility such as the finance department or the HR department.
  • Leading, guiding, directing, and evaluating the work of other executive leaders including assistant vice presidents, senior directors, and managers.
  • Formulating and implementing the strategic plan that guides the direction of their business or their area of functional responsibility, such as developing the strategic marketing plan, in addition to implementing the overall strategic direction.
  • Achieving the organization's overall strategic goals and contributing to the sales and profitability requirements of the business as determined by the strategic plans.
  • Forming, staffing, guiding, leading, and managing an organization of sufficient capability and size to accomplish the vice president's responsibilities and job requirements.
  • Overseeing the complete operation of an organization in accordance with the direction established in the strategic plans.
  • Evaluating the success of the organization. Does the organization achieve the overall success that was budgeted for, planned for, and aimed to accomplish? If not, why not? And, if not, the VP addresses how to get the organization back on track.
  • Maintaining awareness of both the external and internal competitive landscape, opportunities for expansion, customers, markets, new industry developments and standards, and so forth. Generally speaking, being aware of any opportunities that the organization can leverage and pursue for its advantage.
  • Performing other responsibilities as assigned by the president or the CEO.

It's worth noting that the last responsibility is quite common, appearing in most job descriptions. The differential for the role of VP is that the top boss can assign any other new, unforeseen responsibilities, that would ultimately help the organization achieve success.

As you can see, a VP is broadly charged with undertaking senior level leadership duties within an organization. In essence, the VP oversees what is essentially a mini-company more about the role of a VP that is part of the larger overall organization.