The Evolution of Startup Job Titles

It’s not uncommon for startups and emerging companies to disrupt the world around us with their innovative products and ideas. Across nearly all industries, startups have found increasing levels of success in enhancing the quality and efficiency of our everyday lives with inventive new technologies. Not only have emerging companies changed the way we live, but they’ve also influenced the way our businesses operate.

Compared to traditional organizations, startups tend to have more unique job titles for their upper-level management and executive positions. So what do these titles really mean? Here’s how you can decipher the roles and responsibilities associated with each position.

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A rule of thumb

Most employees that work for startup companies are multi-faceted and possess a broad range of abilities that allow them to contribute to various projects and initiatives. When you’re thinking about quintessential startup talent, these are often people with a jack-of-all-trades skillset—and this should be considered when evaluating startup job titles. Sometimes, responsibilities that a manager or executive is in charge of will not be included in the person’s job description. But that’s what makes these emerging companies so successful—the selfless and team-first nature of the entire organization helps drive exceptional business performance. So when you’re reviewing the following job titles, understand that the roles included below might not be all-encompassing.

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Chief Growth Officer (CGO)

A position that has seen growing adoption and popularity in recent years, the Chief Growth Officer is responsible for controlling all organizational revenue and marketing streams. Qualified candidates will take charge of revenue-generating teams and leveraging internal marketing efforts to build successful partnerships. This role slightly differs from the Chief Financial Officer in that the CFO normally has a background in finance or accounting, while the CRO most likely cut their teeth in sales and/or marketing.

Chief of Staff

Serving as the right-hand person to the startup’s founder or CEO, the Chief of Staff controls organizational priorities, oversees internal operations, and leads special initiatives. At early-stage companies, this role is also responsible for developing business partnerships with clients and taking charge of recruiting efforts in the event of high priority needs. The Chief of Staff should have a penchant for making continuous improvements and internal enhancements to the organization.

User Experience (UX) Designer

In any organization, the user experience has a tremendous impact on the success of the business. The same is true for startups—which makes the User Experience Designer position an integral role within emerging companies. Whether it be through software, products, digital apps, or websites, UX Designers ensure a seamless digital experience for their clients and end-users. Qualified candidates for this role will often have prior experience with and knowledge of development—including an understanding of front-end coding and JavaScript concepts.

Sales Engineer

Otherwise known as a Solutions Engineer, a Sales Engineer is motivated to drive new business by helping customers understand the value of the startup’s product or service. From initial product reviews to production, the Sales Engineer develops relationships throughout the sales cycle and incorporates customer suggestions into the final product. Ultimately, this position is critical to the sales process by educating potential clients on the value of the product and the ROI it can generate for their business.

Customer Success Manager

For individuals who are determined to make a positive difference in the life of their clients, the Customer Success Manager role is a great place to achieve these goals. This position is responsible for ensuring successful relationships are in place with clients by diagnosing product or service problems and offering innovative solutions. In addition, Customer Success Managers help to accelerate the process of turning prospective leads into current clients.


Despite some of the unconventional monikers that some emerging companies have given to managers and executives, these titles aren’t much different than those at traditional organizations. Ultimately, it’s the work ethic of the collective company—not the individual titles of each executive—that makes the true difference. As there are several unique positions that comprise each startup, each person plays a critical role in contributing to the overall success of the organization. That’s just a small part of what makes working for an emerging company so exciting.

Did you hear that Prince Harry joined a startup? Here are some reasons why you should consider the idea, too.

This blog was written by Viaduct Managing Director Pete Petrella.

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