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In most British companies, the individual with ultimate day-to-day control over the running of the business. British corporate law requires that for a company to be registered as a Limited Company (Ltd) or a Public Limited Company (plc) there must be at least two people involved: a Company Secretary and a Managing Director (MD).

The Managing Director will normally be responsible for all aspects of keeping the business going, with the exception of keeping financial records (the Company Secretary's job). Ultimate power of hiring and firing usually rests with the MD, and in a larger organisation departmental heads will report to him or her. Much like a CEO in companies organised along the American fashion, the MD is often a person to be feared, although in younger more forward-looking companies you could be lucky enough to find yourself working under an approachable MD. For example I have just received the following email from the MD here:

Dear All.

We have ordered a microwave for the office which should be with us today.

As HQ have prevented us from locating it in the kitchen area we are having to place it within the office area. The implications of this is that the delicate aroma of curries, while being inviting after 6 pints, may not be welcomed by all at 10:00 in the morning.

The main use of the microwave is to provide people on out-of-hours shifts a means to heat up food. It can also be used during lunch time but please be respectful of others.

We are planning to locate it next to the office safe, please do not get the two confused. I do not want the tape backups microwaved and your dinner locked away for weeks....


In theatre the Managing Director works alongside the Artistic Director to plan the budget and mission of the company. The theatrical managing director, unlike a managing director of a corporation, is responsible for financial records, unless the company is lucky enough to have an accountant.

Most theatres are understaffed, so people do more than one job. Often. the managing director and artistic director is one person. This can create a conflict of interests between the creative and practical sides of the theatre. Generally, artistic directors want to spend more money on risky projects so that they can create innovative theatre, and fulfill the artistic mission of the theatre. The managing director, on the other hand, generally says, “that would be nice … but…” then he makes a case for doing a less experimental show, or shows with smaller budgets. When these positions are folded in to one—the artistic/managing director is hard pressed to find balance between her two responsibilities.

A good managing director learns to say “Maybe we could do that if…” He is always looking for a way to give the artistic staff the resources they need without ever putting them (and herself) in danger of being without a job.

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