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Managing Director/​Chief Executive

Kaihautū Whakahaere/​Tumu Matua

Alternative titles for this job

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

$180K-$740K per year

Managing directors/chief executives in the private sector usually earn

$250K-$1M per year

Source: Public Service Commission and Hays, 2021.

Job opportunities

Chances of getting a job as a managing director/chief executive are good for people with relevant qualifications and experience.


Pay for managing directors/chief executives varies depending on experience, the size and earnings of the organisation and the type of sector (public or private).

  • Public sector managing directors/chief executives usually earn between $180,000 and $740,000 a year.

  • Private sector managing directors/chief executives usually earn between $250,000 and $1 million a year.

Sources: Public Service Commission, 'Chief Executive Remuneration – Annual Overview', March 2021; and Hays, '2020/21 Salary Guide', 2021.

(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.

Working conditions

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.

Entry requirements

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. 

Secondary education

A tertiary entrance qualification is required to enter further training. Useful subjects include business studies and English.

Personal requirements

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

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 - -
Institute of Management New Zealand (IMNZ)
0508 225 546 - -
Check out related courses

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 (
  • Institute of Management New Zealand website, accessed April 2021, (
  • Public Service Commission, 'Chief Executive Remuneration Disclosure,' accessed April 2021, (
  • Stats NZ, '2018 Census Data', 2019.
  •, 'The 11 Highest Paying Jobs in New Zealand - 2021 Edition', 11 February 2021, (

(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.

A managing director discusses business operations with her senior staff

Managing directors/chief executives manage and control the business operations of an organisation

Last updated 22 April 2021