A vice president (in British English: vice-president for governments and director for businesses) is an officer in government or business who is below a president (managing director) in rank. The name comes from the Latin vice meaning "in place of". In some countries, the vice president is called the deputy president. In everyday speech, the abbreviation VP can be used.
In government, a vice president is a person whose primary responsibility is to act in place of the president on the event of the president's death, resignation or incapacity. Vice presidents are either elected jointly with the president as their running mate, or more rarely, appointed independently after the president's election.
Most governments with vice presidents have one person in this role at any time, although in some countries there are two or more vice presidents. If the president is not present, dies, resigns, or is otherwise unable to fulfill their duties, the vice president will generally serve as president. In many presidential systems, the vice president does not wield much day-to-day political power, but is still considered an important member of the cabinet. Several vice presidents in the Americas hold the position of President of the Senate; this is the case, for example, in Argentina, the United States, and Uruguay. The vice president sometimes assumes some of the ceremonial duties of the president, such as attending functions and events that the actual president may be too busy to attend; the Vice President of the United States, for example, often attends funerals of world leaders on behalf of the president.
In business, "vice president" refers to a senior management position. A vice president usually reports directly to the president or CEO of the company and is a member of the executive management team. Some corporations that use this term may have individuals with the title of vice president responsible for specific business divisions (e.g., Vice President for Legal, Vice President for Sales and Marketing, Vice President for Finance, or Vice President for Human Resources). When there are several vice presidents in a company, these individuals are sometimes differentiated with titles denoting higher positions such as executive vice president and/or senior vice president with the remaining management team holding the title vice president. The title of assistant vice president or associate vice president is used in large organizations below vice president.
A corporate vice president is an older term that usually denotes a vice president that is named as a corporate officer by the board of directors. Not all vice presidents in a company in the modern business environment are named as an official corporate officer.
Hierarchy of vice presidents
Depending on the specific organization, the following may be an example of the hierarchy of the vice presidents:
Of course, this comparison is not strictly correct, as "director" is a legal term, meaning someone registered with the relevant country's company registrar (or simply named in the legal documents, for countries not having company registration) as having managerial control of the company, and having legal responsibility for its operation, whilst a vice president does not. In either case the responsibilities may be overall to the company, a region (US, EMEA, CEE...), business unit or function such as Sales, Marketing, IT etc.
In large brokerage firms and investment banks, there are usually several vice presidents in each local branch office, the title being sometimes a marketing approach for customers, than denoting an actual managerial position within the company. Some companies liberally give out the job title vice president, perhaps as an inexpensive way for a company to recognize employees, or perhaps because of delayering when an employee can't be moved higher in the organization but still deserves recognition. In these cases, the title merely implies that someone is in middle or upper management.
Usage in other organizations
In other organizations (e.g., trade unions, societies, clubs) one or multiple vice presidents are elected by the members of the organization. When multiple vice presidents are elected, the positions are usually numbered to prevent confusion as to who may preside or succeed to the office of president upon vacancy of that office (for example: 1st vice president, 2nd vice president, and so on). In some cases vice presidents are given titles due to their specific responsibilities, for example: Vice President of Operations, Finance, etc. In some associations the first vice president can be interchangeable with executive vice president and the remaining vice presidents are ranked in order of their seniority.
The primary responsibility of the vice president of a club or organization is to be prepared to assume the powers and duties of the office of the president in the case of a vacancy in that office. If the office of President becomes vacant, the vice president (or in clubs with multiple vice presidents, the VP that occupies the highest-ranking office), will assume the office of president, with the lower vice presidents to fill in the remaining vice presidencies, leaving the lowest vice presidency to be filled by either election or appointment. If the bylaws of a club specifically provide of the Officer title of President-Elect, that officer would assume the powers and duties of the president upon vacancy of that office only if specified in the bylaws.