Fractional CxO Executive FAQ

What is a fractional CxO?

A fractional CxO is an executive consultant who works with several companies at once. They work with companies for specific functions.

Many business owners and growing management teams find themselves juggling several roles, places and demands. It’s often stressful, not very efficient — and rarely sustainable.

These companies need executive leadership across these functions, but the existing leadership team (or owner!) is stretched thing and not ready for a full-time hire. They need an executive for a fraction of the time, whether that’s 20% or 50%.

Why use a fractional CxO?

Is your business ready to change, grow or respond? Perhaps you know you need a senior leader, but you don’t have the resources to bring someone on full-time. You want executive guidance, but that would leave you without the resources to implement or leverage the other supports you need.

A CxO is a results-oriented executive. Because they’re not on your payroll and outsourced, they’ll work hard to meet results.

Bringing in a fractional CxO can help save you from costly hiring mistakes, trying to patch together junior staff, or getting tied up with a consultant who makes their living from reports and plans they never stick around to see through.

What is the x in CxO?

When CxO first emerged as a title, people associated it with a placeholder. Think of this like Chief _____ Officer, where x is undefined. While you could hire a fractional CEO, COO or CMO to run your company, operations or marketing, a CxO has the expertise to pivot between roles, drawing together unique strengths and experiences, which tends to work better for SMEs going through growth and change and navigating the transition from depending on the founders and early executive team.

It turns out, though, that you need more than just a placeholder to be a CxO. So that x stands more for experience, expertise and executive, nowadays.

What do CxOs have in common?

Whereas many fractional C-suite executives focus on specific areas, like marketing for the CMO or operations for the COO, a fractional CxO shines because of their cross functional-experience. Expect a CxO to have a blend of experience in business planning, operations, marketing, sales, product, user and customer experience, training, PR, customer service, project management, and strategic planning.

What background should a fractional CxO executive have?

Education – fractional CxO executives usually have at least a bachelors in a related filed, such as business administration, IT or marketing. More competitive companies look for advanced education, such as MBA, PMP, CPA, law, and advanced professional certifications. And, these days, vetting the diversity training and experience of candidates can help companies avoid damaging mistakes.

Subject Matter Expertise and Experience – CxO comes with a lot of responsibility. A fractional CxO usually has 10 or more years of experience in related roles, often with cross-functional experience and serial entrepreneurship involvement. A CxO should also have years of consulting and coaching experience, so that your business isn’t going through teaching them how to run a consultancy or professional services firm.

Communication and leadership skills – a CxO should feel good and  be able to help build trust. If you and your staff don’t feel chemistry, fit and trust with the fractional CxO, you’re unlikely to be willing to make the changes needed to bring your business forward or spark confidence in your own team, clients and partners. A good CxO executive has excellent communication, leadership, coaching and presentation skills. They have the ability to inspire change, work through conflicts, do active listening, problem solve, keep people engaged, and support people through change and crisis, while also pulling in senior business strategies and knowledge of markets, industries, products, technologies and the what’s worked for other firms. They develop people and manage change, not just solutions.

Technical skills

The CxO needs a range of technical skills so that they can guide businesses through cross-functional and cross-departmental decisions. They may have more specialized experience and training in technologies, information management systems, business automation. Or they may have applied knowledge in specific markets, industries, processes, products and services or technology and innovation adoption. Entrepreneurship is often a hidden technical skill.

What is the C-suite?

C-suite is a term used for executive roles, such as CEO, COO, CMO, CFO, or CTO. Some organizations have gone away from the term “chief” because it is controversial. They prefer to use use the acronyms or other terms like “lead executive”, “head” or other executive role tiltles.

What are some C-Suite roles held by CxOs?

  • CEO – executive officer
  • CDO – data officer (data science and analytics)
  • CDO – diversity officer
  • CFO – financial officer
  • CUXO – user experience officer
  • CHRO – human resources officer
  • CLO – legal officer
  • CMO – marketing officer
  • CIO – information officer
  • CTIO – technology and innovation officer
  • CKO – knowledge officer
  • COO – operations officer
  • CPO – product officer
  • CSO – security officer (also CISO information security officer and CPO privacy officer)
  • CSO – sustainability officer
  • CTO – technology officer

What stage companies need a fractional CxO?

The stage your business is in matters less than the goals your business wants to reach. A CxO will help you define your goals, the service commitment you need, and the ROI you want, while working within the resources you have available.

How is a fractional CxO executive different from a coach or consultant?

A fractional CxO supports companies both with strategy and hands-on tactics. So you won’t be left with a report and a shrug when it’s time to implement. Unlike a coach, you’ll be given strategic advice and it’s not merely about your own growth.

What does a CxO do?


To found a company, you often need to be a bit of a lone wolf. Your unique vision sets you apart. While many business founders have great vision or expertise, it may be their unique way of thinking that propels the business forward. To get employees on board and to make sure those employees speak candidly, it can help to have someone who’s there to get their honest take on things – and also help them get on board with new ideas.


A CxO has probably been at this point before. While you’re trying to decide when and how to scale up or pivot, they’ve probably been through this themselves or with clients. They’ve seen the same scenario across multiple organizations and can help you steer around pitfalls, roadblocks and time wasters.

A Fresh Take

You may have hit a limit with figuring out the path forward. You may find yourself going around and around, trying to solve the same problem with much the same background you had before. A fractional CxO leader can help bring a fresh take, informed insights, and the knowledge of how other companies have solved similar problems, even when the problem itself may be new.

Processes, Systems and Protocols

As companies grow and change, the processes, systems and protocols they’ve followed won’t get them the rest of the way. But, with the right pieces in place, your company can gain operational efficiency, free up time and reduce stress. A CxO can help you choose processes, platforms, tools and systems to help you grow – and keep growing.

Coaching & Mentoring

You and your employees may need some help in getting up to speed, working through a change or learning a new skill. A fractional CxO leader can help you and your employees, while bringing the business and technical knowledge most business coaches lack.

You can learn more about our specific CxO services here.

Is a fractional CxO the same as fractional C-suite or fractional executive?

Yes, we just like to use the more mysterious term. 🙂

Where can I find a fractional CxO?

Trustmode Consulting, led by Andréa Coutu, MBA, offers fractional CxO services.

What business does Andréa Coutu have being a fractional executive?

An MBA, author, university instructor, serial entrepreneur and accomplished business leader with 25 years deep experience in multiple industries, Andréa owns Trustmode Consulting.