Can you please clarify if it's acceptable to use these terms interchangebly and if not point out to significant differences between these titles. It seems to me that it may be something with scale of an organization (perhaps, small/medium businesses have managing directors, and large corporations have chief executive officers) but I'm not sure. I do understand that a person may bear one or another of these titles formally, but what about real differences?


Managing director is the most common title for the highest ranking executive officer of an organization in the UK, whereas in the US the position may be known as the chief executive officer (CEO), but the titles also vary by industry and by organization.

For example, many governmental bodies in the U.S. have managing directors, referring to the highest ranking civil servant of an agency, responsible for daily operations and administration. In an American corporate environment, a managing director might be the equivalent to a chief operating officer (COO), but in banking and consulting it is frequently the head of a semi-autonomous division, who might be called a president in a conglomerate company.

Neither does this exhaust the list of possible titles: U.S.-based non-profit organizations often have an executive director, municipalities a city manager (or town manager, etc.), universities a chancellor, and so on.


To be concise, no.

The two have separate definitions, a C.E.O is a Chief Executive Officer; the use of the word officer in the title is mainly because of business structure and formation. For Example, if you are starting a Company in the United States you have to list Officers that have a responsibility to a specific company if ever the company is called into question.

Whereas as a Marketing Director is a title meant to express the work the individual does. While a Marketing Director can be an "Officer" of a company. A great deal of this has to do with the internal working of a company, and how a company is viewed by the state and/or government that dictates it's action.

I see you edited this post to include MD and SMB, again, this also has use within the work environment and outside of it. For example, both an Emergency Room Physician and a Surgeon are considered "Medical Doctors" and in common conversation, say, for example, at a dinner table with guests, someone might say, "Dan is an MD." Rather than saying "Dan is a Cardin-Pulmonary Surgeon specializing in Cardiomyopathy."

Both answers are correct, however one would be more appropriately used within the work environment, in this place a Hospital where there are many doctors and you need to make further distinction than, as said above, in a social setting outside of the workplace.

  • 1
    The question asks about managing directors, not marketing directors or medical doctors. I realize that the latter case is a bit confusing, but in context it says: The managing director (MD) of a small/medium business (SMB) is analogous to the CEO of a corporation. I proposed an edit to clarify the question's meaning. Apr 29 '13 at 22:22
  • There would be a good reason for an edit, I agree; the reason I have not edited it is because the question was edited every time I looked back to reference it. Thank you for the apt suggestions.
    – Dutch
    May 2 '13 at 22:39

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