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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 usually earn

$180K-$740K per year

Managing directors/chief executives in the private sector usually earn

$250K-$1M per year

Source: Public Service Commission and Hays, 2021.

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 varies depending on experience, the size and earnings of the organisation and the type of sector (public or private).

  • Public sector managing directors/chief executives usually earn between $180,000 and $740,000 a year.

  • Private sector managing directors/chief executives usually earn between $250,000 and $1 million a year.

Sources: Public Service Commission, 'Chief Executive Remuneration – Annual Overview', March 2021; and Hays, '2020/21 Salary Guide', 2021.

(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:

  • provide the overall direction and management of an organisation
  • lead the development of an organisation's values and objectives
  • develop and put in place business strategies, plans and policies to achieve goals
  • ensure the organisation's policies and procedures are followed by staff
  • manage risks to the organisation and consult with management staff on issues
  • assess and manage business operations and financial performance
  • ensure the organisation complies with company law and other relevant legislation
  • report regularly to stakeholders, often through the board of directors
  • maintain relationships with key board members and management staff
  • 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 clients and stakeholders need from an organisation 
  • knowledge of how to enable cultural development within an organisation
  • knowledge of company law and other legislation 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.

Entry requirements

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

A tertiary qualification in business administration, commerce or law, or a qualification relevant to the organisation's area of business is also useful.

Secondary education

A tertiary entrance qualification is required to enter further training.

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:

  • using leadership skills in challenging and complex situations
  • any senior leadership position where you have entered the role and started performing straight away.

Find out more about training

Institute of Directors in New Zealand
(04) 499 0076 - mail@iod.org.nz - www.iod.org.nz
Institute of Management New Zealand (IMNZ)
(09) 303 9100 - enquiries@imnz.net.nz - www.imnz.co.nz
Check out related courses

What are the chances of getting a job?

Managing directors/chief executives with experience have a better chance

Managing directors/chief executives with relevant experience have a higher chance of employment as it is a high risk position and employers usually prefer those with a proven track record. To increase your chances, be prepared to move or travel for a position.

Opportunities for private sector chief executive roles are highest in Auckland and other urban centres. Opportunities for public sector chief executive roles are highest in Wellington.

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


  • Careers New Zealand research, April 2017.
  • Fletcher, H, 'Salaries interactive: What CEOs of top NZ companies earn', 16 June 2015 (www.nzherald.co.nz).
  • Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, '2006-2014 Occupation Data' (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2015.
  • State Services Commission, 'Executive Pay in the State Services' accessed April 2017, (www.ssc.govt.nz).
  • Stats NZ, '2018 Census Data', 2019.
  • Suckling, S, chair of the board, Callahan Innovation, Careers New Zealand interview, April 2017.
  • Watkins, T, 'Revealed: The highest paid public servants', 26 November 2015 (www.stuff.co.nz).

(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 start their own business in a range of industries, or move into local or national politics.

A managing director discusses business operations with her senior staff

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

Last updated 7 April 2021