CEO’s right-hand man: what is this popular job in start-ups?

You only need to take a look at the solutions site 1jeune 1, Stage.fr, Welcome to the Jungle or LinkedIn to see the rise in power of the position of “CEO’s right hand man”, the junior version of the chief of staff. A somewhat vague and seductive title that consists of supporting the boss in his strategic and operational tasks.

Startups are crazy about this and are aimed mainly at young people from Grandes Écoles or universities, who are looking for a mid-term or end-of-study internship, a work-study program or a gap year. With sometimes a signing in the key.

Tap everything to find your way

Many students fall in love with this opportunity, which allows them to acquire skills and responsibilities very quickly. “I was in that position for six months. I learned ten times more than in four years of study and nine months of internship in large groups”, confirms Cyril, former right-hand man of the CEO of a foodtech start-up, during his final master’s internship at Neoma Business School.

He recalls that the ad “came to his attention” when he was already involved in the recruitment processes of prestigious companies for a marketing internship. “I spoke to the CEO who had just created his start-up. We had a great “fit” and I was hooked on every level: the variety of missions, the product, its development potential, the prospect of a permanent contract at the end of the internship.”recalls Cyril with enthusiasm.

In retrospect, the young man is full of praise for the “Swiss Army knife” aspect of the work. “I was able to discover everything: marketing, sales, recruiting, technology, administration. I worked in pairs and in complete trust with the CEO. » Above all, this role allowed him to find his true calling. Initially, he intended to join the marketing department of a large box at the end of his studies, he ended up changing his mind. “Being the CEO’s right-hand man, I understood that I had more fun selling and supporting salespeople, and in a start-up than in a large group”analyze.

The start-up recruits Cyril on a permanent basis at the end of his internship as Sales Operations & Strategy, a role generally assigned to a more senior profile. Having arrived at the origin of the creation of the start-up, it is today one of the pillars.

Ideal for beginning learners

Being a CEO’s right-hand man can also be beneficial for young people with an entrepreneurial spirit. Joseph Choueifaty, 25, co-founder of fintech Goodvest, would love to fill that position before launching his own company. “I would have saved a lot of time because we are at the heart of how a company works, with a cross-functional view on all key issues and a formative and even psychological proximity to the CEO”summarizes this graduate of X-HEC Entrepreneurs, ranked among the 30 Under 30 of the year 2022 by Forbes France.

In its two years of existence, Goodvest has successively taken on four “CEO right hand” interns (one of whom later created his own start-up). One hundred applicants at a time try their luck after reading the internship offer. “The right-hand man participates in our steering committee, in meetings with investors, works on the fundraising files, helps with recruitment, does a little administration”, unfolds Joseph Choueifaty. On the other hand, the CEO expects a motivated, curious, autonomous, versatile and vigorous trainee.

Too bright?

Chloé* 100% matched the job requirements and her prospects of becoming a tech entrepreneur. “I was introduced to this position as an MBA in entrepreneurship”recalls this 20-year-old, holder of an ESSEC Global BBA bachelor’s degree.

It is, therefore, full of hope that she joined a young technology consulting firm, where she ended up disillusioned. “During my six-month internship, I mostly did business development. Admittedly, I took care of cross-functional matters, I was consulted on strategic issues, but that’s it. I wasn’t given the opportunity to get involved as much as I wanted to.”regrets the young woman who decided to continue at the beginning of the school year in a specialized master’s degree at ESCP.

Another disappointment for Emmanuel*, who has just finished his tenure as CEO at a start-up studio. “It was really cool to discover the ecosystem and understand the role of a CEO. But you touch everything so much that you don’t delve into anything. And you are more motivated than independent. Personally, I remained in my hunger! » regrets the EM Strasbourg Masters student.

If this young man feels that “This bling-bling position serves mainly to attract young people and to add a title that slaps a CV! », others could benefit from it. As for each internship offer, experiences vary by company. In good terms…

* First names have been changed at the request of respondents.

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