The DNA of the COO

Proving their worth

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“It is up to us as COOs to prove that we’re bringing added value. We need to do a better job of marketing ourselves.”
Daniel Bandle, COO of AXA Winterthur.

COOs will greatly increase their chances of being successful in their role if they can demonstrate clearly to other members of the C-suite the value that they bring.

“In order not to become redundant, we as COOs have to prove that it really does make sense to bring these processing and operations functions together,” says Daniel Bandle, COO of AXA Winterthur, a large Swiss insurance company.

Important, but not indispensable?

In general, the COO’s C-suite peers have great respect for the demands of the role. Yet, when it comes to the question of whether a company would perform worse if it had no COO, opinions differ.

There are some areas in which COOs need to catch up. For example, while 57% agree strongly that they add value by executing transformational projects, fewer of their C-suite peers (44%) hold the same view. As the individual in the company who is best placed to lead and implement change, COOs should ensure that they make the most of such opportunities.

Areas where COO’s work adds value for a company

Areas where COO's work adds value for a company

(Percentage of respondents who have chosen 9 or 10 on a scale from 1 = do not add value at all to 10 = proactively add considerable value)

Thriving on challenges, rising above complexity

The key difficulty for COOs is that finding the space to showcase their skills can be hugely challenging. It requires them to find a ladder out of the operational trenches, to gain a wider perspective of the business.

But, such challenges are what COOs thrive on. When asked what makes their role worthwhile, respondents point to the fact that it brings fresh challenges every day. They also enjoy engaging with a wide variety of different functions and departments across the business.

COOs need to challenge an often-held perception that the role is primarily concerned with keeping the wheels turning and little else. To overcome this, they must demonstrate that they now bring a strategic contribution to the business, and that their role “moves the needle” on business performance.

COOs need to capitalize on their unique vantage point

By getting involved in almost every function, COOs can spot interdependencies and serve as the integrator between different activities across the business. They can help to break down functional and geographical silos, and identify ways of combining assets to drive efficiencies and transfer best practice.

The DNA of the COO - Time to claim the spotlight