Managing Director/Chief Executive
Kaihautū Whakahaere/Tumu Matua
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
$200K-$800K per year
Managing directors/chief executives in the private sector usually earn
$300K-$1.2M per year
Source: Public Service Commission, 2022.
Pay for managing directors/chief executives depends on their experience, the size and earnings of their organisation and whether it is in the public (government) or private sector.
Public sector managing directors/chief executives usually earn between $200,000 and $800,000 a year.
- Private sector managing directors/chief executives usually earn between $300,000 and $1.2 million a year.
Source: Te Kawa Mataaho Public Service Commission, 'Chief executive remuneration 2021/22'.
- Te Kawa Mataaho Public Service Commission website - Chief executive remuneration
- PAYE.net.nz website – use this calculator to convert pay and salary information
(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.
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
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.
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.
A tertiary entrance qualification is required to enter further training. Useful subjects include business studies and English.
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 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 - email@example.com - www.iod.org.nz
- Institute of Management New Zealand (IMNZ)
- 0508 225 546 - firstname.lastname@example.org - www.imnz.co.nz
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 (www.iod.org.nz).
- Institute of Management New Zealand website, accessed April 2021, (www.imnz.co.nz).
- Public Service Commission, 'Chief Executive Remuneration Disclosure,' accessed April 2021, (www.publicservice.govt.nz).
- Stats NZ, '2018 Census Data', 2019.
- Training.co.nz, 'The 11 Highest Paying Jobs in New Zealand - 2021 Edition', 11 February 2021, (www.training.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 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.
Last updated 14 March 2023