What is a CAO?

A chief administrative officer (CAO) is a top-level executive responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of an organization and the company’s overall performance. CAOs are responsible for managing an organization’s finances as well as creating goals, policies, and procedures for the company to help it operate more efficiently and compliantly. They typically report directly to the CEO and act as a go-between for other senior-level management and the CEO.

CAOs often manage administrative staff and are also sometimes responsible for overseeing the accounting staff. These executives have a strong focus on policy, procedure, profits, and ensuring that all regulatory rules and regulations are followed. They work closely with departments and teams within the organization to ensure they’re operating effectively and to determine whether there is room for improvement. If a department is underperforming, a CAO can step in and identify what areas need to change or be improved to turn things around.

In addition to overseeing the daily operations of a company, CAOs also must have an eye on long-term strategic projects. That might include developing long-term budgets, developing and monitoring KPIs, training new managers, and keeping a pulse on changing regulatory and compliance rules.

Chief administrative officer responsibilities

The main responsibilities of a CAO are to ensure the company is operating efficiently daily, and to oversee relevant high-level management and other personnel. The CAO role can be found in several industries — most commonly in tech, finance, government, education, and healthcare. It’s a role that requires high-level decision-making, leadership skills, and strong communication skills. CAOs work closely with leaders across the organization and need to be able to communicate to the CEO how various departments are functioning within the company.

CAOs should have strong presentation skills and the ability to communicate complex business and financial information to other stakeholders in the company. It’s a role that requires an understanding of change management and an ability to juggle several complex projects at once. CAOs need a solid relationship built on trust with the CEO of the organization because they will work closely with them to improve business efficiency. 

The responsibilities of a CAO differ depending on industry, but general expectations for the role include:

Setting, monitoring, and managing KPIs for departments and management staffFormulating strategic, operational, and budgetary plansWorking closely with and training new managers in administrative rolesMentoring and coaching administrative staff within the organizationPerforming manager evaluationsWorking closely with C-suite and board of directorsStaying up to date on the latest changes to government rules and regulations related to administrative tasks, accounting, and financial reporting

Chief administrative officer skills

While skills differ by industry, CAOs are expected to have the following general skillset:

Strategic planningTeam leadershipLegal complianceFinancial reportingRegulatory complianceBudget managementStrategic project managementRisk management/risk controlAbility to generate “effective reports and give presentations”Knowledge of IRS laws, Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), Security Exchange Commission (SEC) rules and regulations, and internal audit procedures within the company

Chief administrative officer vs. COO

The role of CAO is very similar to that of a chief operating officer (COO), as both are responsible for overseeing the operations of a business. The COO role, however, is more commonly found in companies that manufacture physical products, whereas the CAO role is better suited to companies focused on offering services. It’s not uncommon for a company to have both roles, depending on business needs.

Another difference between a CAO and COO is that CAOs oversee day-to-day operations and identify opportunities to improve departments, teams, and management within the organization. If a department isn’t performing well, a CAO will often take over as acting head of the department, working at the helm of the team or department to get a firsthand look at how it’s functioning and how it could be improved.  

Alternatively, chief operating officers typically focused more on the overall operations of a business, rather than the day-to-day operations of specific departments or teams. They’re responsible for overseeing projects such as choosing new technology upgrades, finding new plants for manufacturing, and overseeing physical supply chains.  

At companies that have both a CAO and a COO, the two often work closely together to develop success metrics and goals for the company. Their roles are related enough that these two executives will have to strategize together when it comes to budgets or implementing regulatory and compliance rules. Both the CAO and COO have an eye on operations and efficiency, just in a different scope and area of the business.

Chief administrative officer salary

The average annual salary for a chief administrative officer is $122,748 per year, according to data from PayScale. Reported salaries for the role ranged from $67,000 to $216,000 depending on experience, certifications, and location. Entry-level CAOs with less than one year experience reported an average salary of $90,000, while those with one to four years’ experience reported an average annual salary of $93,174. Midlevel CAOs with five to nine years’ experience reported an average annual salary of $113,543, and experienced CAOs with 10 to 19 years’ experience reported an average annual salary of $133,343. Late career CAOs with over 20 years’ experience reported an average annual salary of $149,279.

IT Leadership

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With increasing pressures on pricing, speed, individualization, and sustainability brought on by customers and competitors, already- intricate supply chains & manufacturing processes are becoming more and more complex.

A resilient business needs digitalized manufacturing operations, customer service and supply chains to run with speed and flexibility.

Lean manufacturing (also known as lean production, just-in-time manufacturing and just-in-time production, or JIT) is a production method aimed primarily at reducing times within the production system as well as response times from suppliers and to customers. Central to the concept is the elimination of waste or activities which add no value to the process. And this in turn provides a basis for operational excellence by standardizing processes and creating a culture of continuous improvement by monitoring, proactively maintaining equipment and empowering employees.

Industry 4.0 refers to the digital transformation of industrial processes through Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and cyber-physical systems – smart, autonomous systems that use computer-based algorithms to monitor and control physical things like machinery, robots, and vehicles.  

In this workshop, we shall discuss and showcase use cases where Industry 4.0 meets lean manufacturing – with the aim of increasing operational efficiency!


Sujit Hemachandran – Sr Lead, Industry 4.0 Digital Transformation, SAP Labs
Sujit is a technologist who specializes in understanding and helping customers adopt technologies and applications. He is currently engaged with SAP customers in the discrete and process sector to help them on their Industry 4.0 and industrial IoT journeys. His experience with SAP software includes strategizing and developing various enterprise technologies and platforms, such as mobile, integration, IoT, and cloud communications.

Ben Hughes – Industry 4.0 Hub OT Specialist, SAP Labs
Ben has 18 years of engineering experience in a wide range of industries. His experience includes working with many manufacturers to deploy automation solutions on plant floors, developing automated residential lighting systems, and developing custom control systems for the US Navy and Coast Guard. During his time off, Ben enjoys spending time with family, travelling, and reading, and is a volunteer with his son’s boy scout troop.

Jack LaMaina – Industry 4.0 Hub Specialist, SAP Labs
Jack graduated from The College of New Jersey with a Major in Business Management and a Minor in International Studies. Early in his career at SAP, Jack supported the Mission Control Center before taking on the role of a Solution Advisor for SAP’s Customer Experience Suite of solutions. Jack supports SAP customers by bridging the gap between business and technology, turning complex problems into value creating opportunities for customers by showing the power of SAP software in support of customers’ digital transformation goals.

Matt Ruff – Industry 4.0 Hub Specialist, SAP Labs
Matt graduated with an engineering degree and spent his early career learning the ins and outs of cocoa & chocolate processing. Matt has ?5+ years of consulting experience with SAP’s Manufacturing Portfolio & is a previous owner of SAP’s Model Company for Connected Manufacturing. Currently, Matt is focused on optimizing and integrating business processes and showcasing SAP’s strengths to customers.

Vivekananda Panigrahy – Industry 4.0 Hub Specialist, SAP Labs
Vivek is a full stack developer of SAP Business Technology Platform with 9+ Years of Experience with a strong focus on Design Patterns, Solution Architecture and Problem-Solving Skills to the best of Customer Success. Currently, Vivek supports SAP’s Digital Supply Chain Industry 4.0 Innovation Hub team helping customers throughout their Digital Transformation Journey.

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