Daily English
Cultural English
Practical English

0928 Understanding Corporate Structure

访问量:
Complete Transcript
Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 928 – Understanding Corporate Structure.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 928. I'm your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

Our website is ESLPod.com. Go there to become a member of this podcast and download the Learning Guide for this episode. This episode is a dialogue about the way that a company is organized. Let's get started.

[start of dialogue]

Andrea: This organizational chart is really confusing.

Raffael: Why are you looking at that?

Andrea: I have an interview next week and I’m trying to bone up on the company I’ll be interviewing with. I want to impress them, but this chart is really confusing.

Raffael: Let me see. It’s a simple flow chart. You have your board of directors at the top, with the managing director reporting to them, and then the executive officers overseeing major departments.

Andrea: But I thought managers work below the executive officers.

Raffael: You’re confusing managers with managing directors. The managing director oversees the entire company, and managers oversee daily operations.

Andrea: Oh, I see. So these here are the departments: accounting, marketing, purchasing, personnel, R & D, sales, and production.

Raffael: That’s right. Which department are you interviewing for?

Andrea: I think the job is in purchasing.

Raffael: You think? Don’t you think that’s something you should get straight before you do anything else?

Andrea: You might have a point there.

[end of dialogue]

Our dialogue begins with Andrea saying to Raffael, “This organizational chart is really confusing.” An “organizational chart” is a diagram or an image that shows you the structure or organization of a company. Here's the president, and then below the president there are two vice presidents, and then each vice president has an assistant vice president, and so forth. An “organizational chart” is like a map of the company – who is the boss and how are they arranged, from the president down to the lowest worker.

Raffael says, “Why are you looking at that?” Why are you looking at this organizational chart? Andrea says, “I have an interview next week and I'm trying to bone up on the company I'll be interviewing with.” So, Andrea is going to interview, I guess, with a new company, and she wants to “bone (bone) up.” “To bone up” is an informal, two-word phrasal verb meaning to study, to study a lot – usually to try to memorize a lot of information in a short amount of time. Andrea is trying to bone up on the company with which she'll be interviewing.

She says, “I want to impress them,” – I want them to think that I'm good – “but this chart is really confusing.” She can't figure out how the company is organized. Raffael says, “Let me see” – let me look at that. He says, “It's a simple flow chart.” A “flow (flow) chart (chart)” is actually a diagram that shows how a process works. For example, you could do a flow chart on how to make a cake or bake a cake. First, you buy the ingredients, then you mix them together, then you put them in the oven. Then you take it out of the oven. That could be made into a flow chart so you could see on a piece of paper how one thing causes another thing, or you do one thing and then another thing.

“Flow charts” usually have boxes and circles with arrows that connect the different steps of a process. Raffael says that this organizational chart is a flow chart, which is probably not correct. Raffael isn't the brightest person in the world – not the smartest person in the world, let’s say. I don’t think the organizational chart is a flow chart. A flow chart is a chart that shows you how a process works, but an organizational chart shows you how things are arranged: one on top of the other, or one higher up than the other.

But, we continue with Raffael's explanation. He says, “You have your board of directors at the top, with the managing director reporting to them, and then the executive officers overseeing major departments.” We have a lot of vocabulary there. Let's go back and look at that sentence. “You have” – meaning here you have on the chart – “board of directors,” or “the board of directors.” A “board of directors” is a group of people who make the most important decisions for a company. Often, people on the board of directors don't work for the company full-time. They might even be from another company.

Large corporations and companies in the U.S. typically have a board of directors. In fact, the government requires corporations in most places to have a board of directors. Sometimes, the board of directors can just be one or two people. Typically, it's 10 to 15 people if it's a big company. The board of directors is at the top of the organizational chart. They’re sort of like the leaders of the whole company. Below them, at least on this organizational chart, we have the “managing director.” The managing director can also be called the “CEO” – the Chief Executive Officer. This is the highest-level administrator in the company – sort of like the president of the company, although he may not be called the president of the company.

“Below the managing director” – below the CEO, meaning “below” in terms of power and authority – “come the executive officers.” “Executive officers” are high-level members of a company that are usually in charge of a certain section or part of the company. These executive officers oversee major departments. “To oversee” (oversee), as a verb, means to supervise – to make sure that employees are doing their work. These executive officers are in charge of, or oversee, major or important departments. A “department” is a section or part of a company.

Andrea says, “But I thought managers work below the executive officers.” Raffael says, “You're confusing managers with managing directors. The managing director oversees the entire” – or the complete – “company, and managers oversee daily operations.” So, the managing director is in charge of the entire company. The managers are only overseeing daily operations, usually in just one small part of the company.

Andrea says, “Oh, I see,” meaning “I understand.” “So these here” – pointing at the organizational chart – “are the departments.” Then Andrea lists the departments in this company, the sections or parts of this company. They are accounting, marketing, purchasing, personnel, R & D, sales, and production. We have lots of terminology here. Let's start with the first department, which is accounting. The “accounting” department is in charge of keeping track of the money – how much money comes into the company and how much the company spends.

The “marketing” department is in charge of getting people to buy the product or service that the company makes. That could be advertising. That could be doing other promotions. There could be a lot of things involved in marketing. The “marketing department” is usually the most important part of the company, in some ways – often the part of the company that gets the most money because, of course, if the company doesn't sell anything, then the company won't survive.

“Purchasing” is another part of this company. “Purchasing” comes from the verb “to purchase” (purchase), which means to buy. This is the part of the company that buys the things that the company needs to make whatever product it makes. Another department is “personnel” (personnel). “Personnel” is the department that is in charge of hiring people, of getting new people to come into the company. “Personnel” also takes care of other things related to the employees and their stay at the company.

“R & D” is another department mentioned by Andrea. “R & D” is “research and development.” The “R” and “D” stand for “research” and “development.” This is the part of the company that creates new products or new services. “Sales” is the part of the company that actually goes out and sells the product or service to the customer. The difference between “marketing” and “sales” is that the marketing people are trying to get people to buy the product in a general way by advertising. The “sales department” are the actual people who go and talk to the customer – who perhaps collect the money, who give the product to the customer, and so forth. “Production” is the final department mentioned by Andrea. “Production” is the part of the company that actually produces or makes the product.

Raffael asks Andrea, “Which department are you interviewing for?” – which of these departments are you trying to get a job with? Andrea says, “I think the job is in purchasing.” Raffael says, “You think?” meaning “You're not sure?” He says, “Don't you think that's something you should get straight before you do anything else?” “To get straight” means to clarify, to understand something that might be confusing. Raffael is saying that, obviously, Andrea needs to know what job she's applying for before she goes to the company.

Andrea says, “You might have a point there” – she agrees with Raffael. She says, “You might have a point there.” “To have a point” means to have said something important, to have said something that is worth paying attention to.

Now let’s listen to the dialogue, this time at a normal speed.

[start of dialogue]

Andrea: This organizational chart is really confusing.

Raffael: Why are you looking at that?

Andrea: I have an interview next week and I’m trying to bone up on the company I’ll be interviewing with. I want to impress them, but this chart is really confusing.

Raffael: Let me see. It’s a simple flow chart. You have your board of directors at the top, with the managing director reporting to them, and then the executive officers overseeing major departments.

Andrea: But I thought managers work below the executive officers.

Raffael: You’re confusing managers with managing directors. The managing director oversees the entire company, and managers oversee daily operations.

Andrea: Oh, I see. So these here are the departments: accounting, marketing, purchasing, personnel, R & D, sales, and production.

Raffael: That’s right. Which department are you interviewing for?

Andrea: I think the job is in purchasing.

Raffael: You think? Don’t you think that’s something you should get straight before you do anything else?

Andrea: You might have a point there.

[end of dialogue]

She oversees the writing of all of our scripts. I speak of course of our own wonderful scriptwriter, Dr. Lucy Tse.

From Los Angeles, California, I'm Jeff McQuillan. Thank you for listening. Come back and listen to us again right here on ESL Podcast.

English as a Second Language Podcast was written and produced by Dr. Lucy Tse, hosted by Dr. Jeff McQuillan. Copyright 2013 by the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
organizational chart – a diagram or image that shows the structure of an organization and the relationships among its positions or jobs

* This organizational chart shows that the three vice presidents work under the CEO.

to bone up – to study a lot, often trying to improve in a short period of time; to improve one’s skills

* Paula boned up on her knowledge of driving laws before taking the driving test.

flow chart – a diagram or image showing how a process works, including what needs to happen or be achieved first before the next steps

* The students’ flow chart shows the process of a plant’s growth from a seed.

board of directors – a group of people who make the most important decisions for a company or large organization

* The museum’s board of directions decided to reduce expenses by ending evening programs.

managing director – CEO; the highest-level administrator in an organization in charge of managing the entire organization

* The managing director will give a speech outlining our new goals for this year.

executive officer – a high-level member of a company or organization who is responsible for the running of an organization or a large section of it, making important decisions

* The three executive officers met to decide which departments will get extra funding next year.

to oversee – to supervise; to make sure that employees do their work and/or that work gets completed

* Who will oversee the renovations in this apartment complex?

department – a part or section of a large organization dealing with a specific topic or area of responsibility

* The accounting department is located on the second floor and the marketing department is on the third floor.

daily operations – the everyday activities of a company or organization

* Don’t bother the president of the company with small questions about daily operations.

accounting – the department within an organization that keeps of financial accounts showing money that comes into and out of the organization and how it moves within the organization

* If you didn’t receive your paycheck this week, you’ll need to speak to someone in accounting.

marketing – the department within an organization that promotes and advertises products or services

* The marketing department wants to include social networking as a major part of the marketing campaign.

purchasing – the department within an organization that buys the products necessary within an organization

* I’m not in charge of buying for the company. Speak with the purchasing department.

personnel – the department within an organization that handles the hiring and firing of employees, and other matters related to employment

* The personnel department can tell you how many vacation days you have remaining this year.

R & D – research and development; the department within an organization that conducts research and testing to develop new products or services

* R & D is working on a new product that the entire company is excited about.

sales – the department within an organization that deals with customers or clients, helping them purchase products and services from one’s company

* This sales report shows that we’re selling more units this year than last year.

production – the department within an organization that makes or produces the products that are sold

* Everyone is surprised at the popularity of our new product and the production department is working overtime to produce more for sale.

to get (something) straight – to clarify; to understand something that is confusing or unclear

* Let me get this straight. You’re quitting your job to join a rock band?

to have a point – to have said something important or worthwhile to communicate; to have said something worth paying attention to

* You have a point there. I should find another job before I quit this one.

Comprehension Questions
1. If you need ideas on how to promote a new product, which department should you consult?
a) Accounting.
b) Marketing.
c) Sales.

2. If you’re “boning up,” what are you doing?
a) You are cooking.
b) You are studying.
c) You are playing a musical instrument.

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
chart

The phrase “organizational chart,” in this podcast, means a diagram or image that shows the structure of an organization and the relationships among its positions or jobs: “The Direct of Sales is not on this organizational chart.” “The charts” refers to weekly listings of the bestselling music songs or albums: “For how many months were the Beatles on the charts in the 1960’s?” In medicine, a “chart” is a written record of a patient’s information, including their health condition, what medications they’re taking, and what treatment they’re getting: “The doctor examines the patient every morning, looking at her chart to see if there are any signs of improvement.”

production

In this podcast, “production” refers to the department within an organization that makes or produces the products that are sold: “The production department is getting new equipment to speed up its work.” “Production” can also mean the total amount of something that is made or produced: “Steel production is up this year due to an increase in building construction.” We can also use the term “production” to refer to the making of a movie, play, or record: “When we get enough money, we can go into production on this movie.” “To make a production out of something” means to make something more complicated than it needs to be: “This wedding is turning into a major production.”

Culture Note
Using Cooperatives in Business

There are many different types of business cooperatives. A worker cooperative is a business owned “wholly” (completely) or partly by the workers. In some worker cooperatives, only workers are allowed to own shares or parts of the business. In other “hybrid” (combining two types of things) cooperatives, workers can be owners along with “consumers” (people who buy products or services), community members, and “investors” (people who put money into a business to try to make more money).

Most worker cooperatives are “democratically run,” with each worker-owner having one vote. In this type of “corporate structure” (organization of a company), workers have to “balance” (consider) the interests of the workers with what makes sense for the “bottom line” (the financial situation of a business).

The U.S. company Ocean Spray is an example of an “agricultural” (related to growing crops for food or to make products) cooperative. An agricultural cooperative is a business where many “growers” (people who produce fruits, vegetables, and other things that go into making products for sale) work together under one company.

The company has “approximately” (about) 600 “member” (part of the organization by choice) growers in six U.S. states and in some parts of Canada. These growers produce “cranberries” (small red berry used for cooking) and “grapefruit” (a large yellow fruit, similar to oranges or lemons), which are used in their products. Ocean Spray produces many products including fruit juices, fruit snacks, and dried fruit.

Comprehension Answers
1 - b

2 - b