Detail-oriented professionals sought for Chief Administrative Officer jobs

San Diego County recently launched the search for a new Chief Administrative Officer following the announced retirement of 25-year County veteran Helen Robbins-Meyer. The successor of the CAO position will have big shoes to fill, as Ms. Robbins-Meyer holds a lofty position among Chief Administrative Officers as one of the most effective in generation, leading the nation’s fifth most populous county to its first-ever AAA Bond Rating from all three reporting agencies.

Ms. Robbins-Meyer oversees a $6 billion budget and 18,000 employees involved in everything from law enforcement and libraries to parks and social services making San Diego County the envy of the nation.

High praise, indeed, but Chief Administrative Officer jobs also populate the private sector. Canada-based energy company Enbridge recently appointed Laura Sayavedra as its new CAO effective Jan. 1, 2024. The Toronto Globe and Mail reports that Ms. Sayavedra will be responsible for the company’s human resources, real estate and supply chain management in addition to special projects, safety and reliability, environment, and right-of-way. Quite a collection of duties – and knowledge base.

If you’re someone who enjoys enterprise minutia, the devil is in the details of many CAO jobs and Chief Administrative Officer positions, especially if you’re seeking popular CAO opportunities in health care or Chief Administrative Officer options in the medical fields, health care or biosciences.

What is a Chief Administrative Officer and what does a CAO job involve?

Chief Administrative Officer positions work in tandem with the highest levels of company leadership including the CEO, COO, CFO, CIO/CTO and others who are actively involved with the day-to-day operations. They report to the executive team daily inputs involving sales, new hires, legal issues and project updates such as deliveries of capital equipment or a resource or asset acquisition.

CAO jobs are vital to planning and budgeting, which is why they are so closely associated with the CEO, COO and CFO. Their deep institutional knowledge whether internal, regulatory or industry-wide, bridges and fills in the information gaps across an organization so that each segment seamlessly operates at an optimal level. Chief Administrative Officers foresee economic upticks and downturns, and often takes over for the CEO during an absence or on an interim basis during transitions.

How do you become a Chief Administrative Officer? What are the educational requirements and pathways to a CAO job?

In the case of Ms. Robbins-Meyer in San Diego County, she holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Government from the College of William and Mary in Virginia, but the educational pathways are diverse depending on the industry and can range from law or accounting to education and engineering disciplines. 

Ms. Sayavedra holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in international relations and economics from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and a Master’s degree from Columbia University, with a focus on international political economics. She worked in various financial and strategy leadership roles at similar energy companies before joining Enbridge in 2017.

Some CAOs work their way through internal ranks making career moves along a leadership pathway to assistant and deputy CAO positions before making the leap to a Chief Administrative Officer, but in other cases new leadership is required and a candidate search is initiated for a vacated CAO job.

What do Chief Administrative Officer positions pay? Are CAO jobs in demand?

Total compensation, according to, ranges from about $243,000 to $327,000 with the average being approximately $293,000. These totals include up to 25 percent from performance-based bonus. CAO job pay, of course, depends on educational attainment, years of experience and other intangibles. The need to fill new Chief Administrative Officer jobs, or replace retirees, is expected to grow by 7 percent during the next decade, or nearly 22,000 positions, Zippia and the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports.

If you’re CEO, COO or CFO material, you may want to consider combining your many skills and years of knowledge to pursue top Chief Administrative Officer positions. Consult with a recruiter to explore the possibilities.

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