French Language Blog

CEOs and General Manager Presidents – French Corporate Vocabulary Posted by on Jan 31, 2018 in Vocabulary

Au bureau (at the office) there is a lot of technical jargon that can be hard to understand, even if it’s in your langue maternelle (native language). Figuring out the differences between contracts is a good example, but knowing the title des hauts dirigeants (of the superior executives) should not be underappreciated!

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There is an alphabet soup of titles that are sometimes referred to as the c-suite or the c-level. These Chief of X positions are important to know when you look up who does what dans une entreprise (in a company). It gets confusing en français because les francophones (French speakers) will often mix the French and English titles!

To help figure out who’s who dans une entreprise, here’s a list of some of les cadres dirigeants (the c suite):


Le président directeur général (the Chief Executive Officer), is the face of the company and that is why he holds the title of président. Le PDG is nominated by le CA – conseil d’administration (the board of directors) and is seen as the captain of the ship, responsible for managing the general direction of the company. This top position is easily the most well known and as such the most important to understand!


Le directeur financier ou directeur administratif et financier (the Chief Financial Officer), is in charge of la finance et la comptabilité (finance and accounting), which means making sure all things related to l’argent (money) are working properly. Le directeur financier reports to le PDG and le conseil d’administration and tends to define the general financial strategy of une entreprise.


Le directeur de l’exploitation ou le directeur des opérations (the Chief Operating Officer) is loosely defined as being in charge of the daily operations of a given entreprise. The exact role of le directeur d’exploitation can vary greatly depending on how le PDG wants to run l’entreprise.


Le directeur des systèmes d’information (the Cheif Information Oficer) is the highest role for le département informatique (the IT department). They have to make sure all the technological services are running properly and plan for any future upgrades that might need to be implemented as well.

On top of these terms, there are some abréviations (abbreviations) that do not really have an equivalent en français. Many of them still have a commonly used traduction (translation) though!

Voici quelques exemples :

CMOLe directeur marketing

Le directeur marketing (the Cheif Marketing Officer) is the person à la tête du marketing (at the head of marketing). They control all the marketing decisions of l’entreprise.

CTO – Le directeur technique

Le directeur technique ou le directeur de la technologie (the Cheif Technological Oficer) is closely related to le directuer des systèmes d’information, but is more focused on research and long-term problems that could be solved through scientific innovation.

It can get confusing when reading les mails (emails) that refer to the different levels of management or understanding les collègues (coworkers) when they switch between the French terms and English abréviations. Even if you don’t remember all the titles, it’s important to have a general idea of who the term is describing.

If you ever have a doubt about what any of these confusing words mean, don’t be afraid to make a mistake or ask un francophone (a French speaker) to explain what they mean and who they are talking about!

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About the Author: John Bauer

John Bauer is an enthusiast for all things language and travel. He currently lives in France where he's doing his Master's. John came to France four years ago knowing nothing about the language or the country, but through all the mistakes over the years, he's started figuring things out.