PLEASE NOTE: Job profile content may reflect pre-COVID-19 conditions.

Managing Director/​Chief Executive

Kaihautū Whakahaere/​Tumu Matua

Alternative titles for this job

Managing directors/chief executives lead and make overall decisions for an organisation to make sure it operates effectively.



Managing directors/chief executives in the public sector can earn

$200K-$800K per year

Managing directors/chief executives in the private sector can earn

$300K-$1.2M per year

Source: Public Service Commission, 2023.

Job opportunities

Chances of getting a job as a managing director/chief executive are good for people with relevant qualifications and experience.


Pay for managing directors/chief executives depends on their experience, the size and earnings of their organisation and whether it's in the public (government) or private sector.

  • Public sector managing directors/chief executives can earn between $200,000 and $800,000 a year.

  • Private sector managing directors/chief executives cam earn between $300,000 and $1.2 million a year.

  • Chief executives of the top companies listed on the New Zealand Stock Exchange earned an average of $2.29 million a year in 2022.

Private sector managing directors/chief executives may also receive shares and performance bonuses.

Source: Bridgeman, D, 'CEO Pay Survey: NZ's Top Bosses Richer than Ever Following Big Pay Rises', NZ Herald, 19 March 2023; and Te Kawa Mataaho Public Service Commission, 'Chief Executive Remuneration', 2 November 2023.

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our pay information)

What you will do

Managing directors/chief executives may do some or all of the following:

  • direct and manage organisations and their business strategies, operations, plans and policies 
  • manage risks to the organisation and consult with management staff on issues
  • ensure the organisation complies with relevant laws
  • report regularly to stakeholders, often through the board of directors
  • represent the organisation at conferences and official occasions.

Skills and knowledge

Managing directors/chief executives need to have:

  • a strong understanding of business, finance and other areas of management
  • a strong understanding of what their clients and stakeholders need 
  • knowledge of how to enable cultural development within an organisation
  • knowledge of all laws which are relevant to the organisation.

Working conditions

Managing directors/chief executives:

  • often work long and irregular hours, which may include evenings and weekends
  • work in offices, but may spend time at different worksites within their organisation
  • often travel to meet with clients or stakeholders and to attend conferences.

What's the job really like?

Chief executive officer video

Aimee McCammon talks about life as a CEO – 2.18 mins

Aimee McCammon: Hi, I'm Aimee and I'm a CEO. Welcome to my Day In The Life of video.

A CEO's job is very varied in day to day, but the overall job description for what a CEO does is to provide the vision and leadership for a company.

This is our fabulous office where we all come together to come up with brilliant ideas for our clients. It's a great time, come in.

The industry that I'm leading the company in at the moment is basically an advertising and content industry. We work in a very open plan office. That's because in a creative industry we are very collaborative. Great things happen at discussions in the kitchen and in the hallways. I like to be with the team and because the way I work, I do 3 days in the office and then 2 days from home. What I do on my 3 days in the office is I take a lot of meetings, I chat a lot to people, I meet with clients.

In the 2 days that I work at home, I find that I can really concentrate on the thinking and working on those 2 days to ensure that we are delivering on the vision that we've all set together.

There's a lot of different paths to becoming a CEO and it usually involves excellence in whatever field you are in. My 1 gap year turned into 3 gap years. So I was working in restaurants, hospo, like lots of people do, and decided to do a Bachelor of Commerce; which was an interesting choice for me. But I actually thought if I can strengthen my business skills, that would give me a more well-rounded skill set.

My favourite thing is that I get a chance to actually have a look at what everyone's doing. So I do pop in and out of things. I like to just jump into the edit suite and see what we are making. I love talking to the creatives about what projects they're working on. We have to solve a lot of problems in a creative industry. Often just hanging out in the kitchen, making a cup of tea, you know, you'll overhear someone talking about a problem and you're like, oh, I worked on something like that a few years ago. And you'll talk about different solutions for things and it's really fun. It's just connecting with people constantly.

Entry requirements

To become a managing director/chief executive you usually need experience in a senior leadership role.

A relevant tertiary qualification is usually required, such as a Bachelor’s degree or diploma in business management, applied management, commerce or law, or a Master of Business Administration. 

Secondary education

A tertiary entrance qualification is required to enter further training. Useful subjects include business studies and English.

Personal requirements

Managing directors/chief executives need to be:

  • able to lead and motivate others
  • able to multitask and delegate
  • skilled at planning and organising
  • skilled at problem solving and decision making
  • good at communicating
  • positive and adaptable
  • able to work well under pressure.

Useful experience

Useful experience for managing directors/chief executives includes:

  • business and senior management experience
  • corporate governance experience
  • developing and implementing strategic business plans.

Find out more about training

Institute of Directors in New Zealand
0800 846 369 - -
Institute of Management New Zealand (IMNZ)
0508 225 546 - -
Check out related courses

What are the chances of getting a job?

Experience improves managing directors/chief executives job chances

Managing directors/chief executives with managerial and relevant sector experience have the best chance of employment. A proven record of success at a senior management level in a related industry is also useful.

According to the Census, 54,480 managing directors/chief executives worked in New Zealand in 2018.

Private and public sector opportunities for managing directors/chief executives

Opportunities for private sector managing director/chief executive roles are highest in Auckland and other major cities. Opportunities for public sector chief executive roles are highest in Wellington.

Types of employers varied

Managing directors/chief executives usually work in the head office of medium to large organisations.

Managing directors/chief executives may work for:

  • government organisations
  • private businesses
  • commercial companies
  • not-for-profit organisations.


  • Institute of Directors, 'Longer, Harder and Riskier – What Are Directors Paid These Days?' (media release), 20 August 2020.
  • Institute of Directors, 'The Essentials of Being a Director', accessed March 2021 (
  • Institute of Management New Zealand website, accessed April 2021, (
  • Public Service Commission, 'Chief Executive Remuneration Disclosure,' accessed April 2021, (
  • Stats NZ, '2018 Census Data', 2019.
  •, 'The 11 Highest Paying Jobs in New Zealand - 2021 Edition', 11 February 2021, (

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our job opportunities information)

Progression and specialisations

Managing directors/chief executives may progress to set up their own business, or move into an executive chairperson or board of director role. They may also move into local or national politics.

A mixed group of people in business clothes sit around a table in an office.

Managing directors/ chief executives control the business operations of an organisation

Last updated 20 November 2023