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Executive Assistant vs Chief Operating Officer (COO) vs Program Manager

Primary Role:

Executive Assistant: Administrative and organizational support for executives

Chief Operating Officer (COO): Manages day-to-day operations of the company

Program Manager: Oversees specific programs, ensuring they align with organizational goals

Reporting Relationship:

Executive Assistant: Reports directly to the executive they support

Chief Operating Officer (COO): Typically reports to CEO or President

Program Manager: Reports to a senior manager or director

Scope of Responsibilities:

Executive Assistant: Focused on day-to-day tasks and administrative duties

Chief Operating Officer (COO): Oversees all operational activities (finance, HR, etc.)

Program Manager: Manages program objectives, resources, and timelines

Decision-Making Authority:

Executive Assistant: Limited to administrative decisions

Chief Operating Officer (COO): Significant authority over operations

Program Manager: Decision-making within the scope of program management

Strategic Planning:

Executive Assistant: Limited involvement, support capacity

Chief Operating Officer (COO): Involved in the strategic planning process and responsible for implementing the strategy at an operational level

Program Manager: Participates in strategic planning of program objectives

Team Management:

Executive Assistant: Manages administrative staff

Chief Operating Officer (COO): Manages multiple teams or departments across the organization

Program Manager: Manages program teams and coordinates with other departments

Meeting Involvement:

Executive Assistant: Scheduling, preparing materials, taking minutes

Chief Operating Officer (COO): Often leads meetings related to operations and strategy implementation

Program Manager: Leads program-related meetings and updates

Project Management:

Executive Assistant: Manages small projects within their role

Chief Operating Officer (COO): Oversees large-scale projects that affect multiple areas of the company

Program Manager: Responsible for end-to-end program management

Communication:

Executive Assistant: Facilitates internal communication

Chief Operating Officer (COO): Responsible for communicating decisions and strategies to the teams they manage and the broader organization

Program Manager: Communicates program goals and updates to stakeholders

Professional Development:

Executive Assistant: Focused on improving administrative and organizational skills

Chief Operating Officer (COO): Focuses on the professional development of the teams they manage

Program Manager: Develops in program management and strategic coordination

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