It started with the tech companies (doesn't everything?) and has gone mainstream. No, it's not outlandish perks (haircuts, anyone?) or an overly casual dress code -- it's the proliferation of nontraditional job titles. These new titles a far cry from the organizational hierarchy that's ruled the professional workforce for decades, but they are starting to stick and some of them actually seem imperative to running a business today.
From "creator of opportunities" to "director of first impressions," job titles are undergoing a transformation -- reflecting the creative twist and diversity of jobs available in the current market. "The desire to craft or re-envision a job title reflects the increasing individuality of the worker," reporter Kathleen Pierce recently wrote in article for the Boston Globe. Individually is important, but a number of rarely-heard-of job titles are more serious and necessary.
Here are a set of positions that are emerging into positions that we are sure to consider mainstays at most companies in the not-so-distant future. These are sure to outlast the ninjas, evangelists and gurus:
Chief Ethics Officer
While the title has been around for a few years, the role of the chief ethics officer is evolving quickly and becoming more important than ever -- for good reason. Traditionally, chief compliance officers or chief legal counsels have tackled the responsibility of governance, risk management, and compliance (GRC) for larger organizations. These people manage the bad stuff when it happens -- like when an employee steals from the company or there is a sexual harassment case.
The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 set in motion new standards of governance and ethics, but in the new age of digital transparency over a decade later, more companies are waking up to the fact that just managing the bad stuff simply isn't good enough -- especially at a time when public trust in corporations sits at an all-time low. Preventing the bad stuff from happening in the first place has become a bigger priority, and prevention starts with a solid foundation of company ethics and values. Building this foundation is the job of the chief ethics officer. This new "CEO" is entrusted with defining, communicating, socializing, and enforcing within a company's culture.
Chief Mobility Officer
In today's smartphone fueled workplace, it's an unenviable challenge to ensure that those devices exchanging important corporate data are secure and complying with company policy. The position of Chief Mobility Officer isn't simply the oversight of a bring-your-own-device program, it also entails data and information management as it flows through employee devices. CMO's aim to make their workforce more productive, better informed, more efficient, and aligned to a mobile behavior -- through use of specific apps and other offerings -- with strategic company goals.
More so than the PC or even the Web, mobile devices have introduced a shift of power from institutions to individuals, a shift that will be complete by 2016 when one billion consumers will have smartphones in hand, according to Forrester research. "Mobile is one of those things that bites you from behind if you aren't paying attention," Forrester analyst Ted Schadler told Computerworld. This group of professionals will be a necessary bridge between the business and IT departments, driving companies forward as their workforces continue to evolve beyond the stationary computer.
Chief Sustainability Officer
This one has been a while in the making and is crucial as we move into a world where resources are dwindling and sustainability initiatives are core to many large corporations' values. Alternative titles along the lines of "director of social and environmental responsibility" or "chief officer of environment" peppered the highest ranks of nearly all the top 150 largest companies in the world by as early as 2005 and many MBA programs have introduced sustainability training in one form or another. Fueled by individuals with strong backgrounds in external affairs, this role oversees the company's environmental programs and corporate responsibility.
Chief Data Officer
We've officially entered the age of Big Data, so it's only fitting that this title has made its way to the C-level suite. "Big data is enjoying unprecedented attention, with more than $1 billion invested in it in the last year alone," Anthony Goldbloom and Merav Bloch wrote in the Harvard Business Review. It is increasingly essential that businesses assess their needs in this arena. Individuals in this role identify how data can best be used to reach a company's business goals, manage a company's enterprise-wide data administration and mining functions, oversee the quality, management and availability of corporate data, and ensure that the company ais collecting the right data to achieve specific goals.
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