Is the role of chief executive a profession? The CEO Institute thinks so. The networking group has introduced the Certified CEO designation and chief executives awarded the accreditation will be entitled to use the CCEO post-nominal. “Doctors, lawyers and accountants must have professional qualifications, so why not CEOs?” the institute reasons.
It is well understood why doctors and lawyers must be qualified; society is entitled to expect that not just anyone can practice medicine or the law. But anyone can be a chief executive. You can’t be a doctor without a medical degree but you can be a chief executive with or without letters after your name. The fellow in his Snoopy pyjamas who runs a micro business from his bedroom is just as entitled to call himself a chief executive as the head of BHP Billiton.
It seems these days that there is a professional designation, and an impressive sounding professional association behind it, for almost any quasi-profession, occupation and business endeavour. The CEO Institute has been around since 1992, so it’s no fly-by-nighter, but it is just the latest to hop on the bandwagon. It’s entitled to do so. For heaven’s sake, if chiropractors can call themselves doctor it has every right to offer the CCEO designation.
The CCEO is not a qualification in the sense that most of us would understand it and the CEO Institute would recognise that – despite the question it poses above. Let’s be plain: the CCEO is a marketing device. Certified designations have become the positioning strategy of choice for business and professional associations since the Australian Society of Accountants (now CPA Australia) introduced the hugely successful Certified Practising Accountant designation in 1986. Certified designations are even more prevalent in the US. Surprise, surprise.
The CEO Institute hopes its designation will come to be recognised as a mark of “excellence in business leadership”. I doubt that we need another designation. There are plenty of academic qualifications, fellowships and awards available to chief executives that provide some insight into their pedigree. There’s also the view that such has been the surge in the number of obscure post-nominals that most are not worth the CVs they’re printed on. But when all is said and done, if the institute’s CCEO plays even a modest part in producing a better quality of business leader, then more strength to its arm.