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Are You Ready for a Career in Operations Management

by Naveen Agarwal
Operations Management

As an Operations Manager, you’ll play a key role in maximizing the success of your organization. Responsible for improving efficiency, maintaining quality control, developing teams and enhancing productivity, an Operations Manager has a varied and critical role.

With an average salary of $100,780 and a significant degree of authority, a career in Operations Management gives you a direct path to a leadership role and a position as a C-suite executive. So, what does it take to succeed in your chosen role? Read on to find out if you’re ready for a career in Operations Management

1. Qualifications

Many people start their career by studying for a bachelor’s degree, and this is certainly a good idea if you want to become an Operations Manager in the future. Although you can undertake a bachelor’s degree in Operations Management, this isn’t a prerequisite. If you studied an alternate degree at undergraduate level, such as Business Management or Human Resources, you could complete an advanced qualification to hone your skills.

With an MSc in Operations Management, for example, you can further your knowledge and develop the skills you’ll need to succeed. As well as gaining valuable knowledge regarding Operations Management in general, you could choose to customize your degree and specialize in a particular area, such as Healthcare Management or Global Leadership.

2. Experience

If you aspire to a top role, such as Operations Manager, you’ll need to gain significant experience within your chosen industry. Before being promoted to executive level, you may work as a Supply Chain Analyst, Logistics Manager, Procurement Specialist and/or an Operations Team Leader.

Working your way up the career ladder in this way gives you the opportunity to develop your skills incrementally. In addition to this, you’ll get an in-depth view of the various processes and workflows that pertain to the job. Often, it’s this practical experience which gives aspiring Operations Managers the motivation and confidence they need to succeed in a leadership position.

3. Character

Not everyone is suited to a career in Operations Management, so you’ll want to ensure the role suits your character and personality. With a significant amount of responsibility and decision-making, Operations Managers aren’t afraid of accountability and are eager to make their mark. While data-driven decision-making gives you a solid foundation, you’ll need to be able to analyze the information you’re presented with and find creative solutions that deliver genuine value.

If you combine creativity with caution, you strive to create pioneering solutions and you’re eager to inspire others to do the same, a career in Operations Management could be the right option for you.

4. Skills

Throughout your career, you’ll develop new skills and enhance your existing abilities. Although many of the skills you’ll hone will be directly related to Operations Management, you’ll also need a wide variety of transferable skills, or ‘soft skills’, to enable you to succeed. As an Operations Manager, for example, you’ll need to:

  • Hire and develop top talent
  • Motivate your teams
  • Communicate well, in writing and verbally
  • Be highly organized
  • Identify key metrics and analyze data
  • Pitch new ideas and gain support
  • Apply critical thinking skills
  • Negotiate with in-house colleagues, stakeholders and partners
  • Delegate responsibility
  • Create effective solutions
  • Be commercially aware
  • Make data-driven decisions
  • Resolve conflicts
  • Be accountable
  • Adapt to new processes

As you can see, there are a great number of skills that you’ll need to succeed. While this can seem overwhelming at first, there’s no need to be dissuaded. To reach the top of any profession, you’ll need to develop a wide range of transferable skills and you’ll have the opportunity to do this as you gain experience in your chosen field.

5. Industry Knowledge

Operations Managers work across a variety of industries, so you’ll have the opportunity to specialize in a particular sector, if you choose to. If you have a financial background, for example, you may choose to specialize in Operations Management within the banking sector. Alternatively, manufacturing, tech, healthcare and the service industry all offer distinct specialisms and career paths.

Whatever industry you work in, however, you’ll need in-depth knowledge of every aspect of your organization. In addition to this, you’ll need a good grasp of what the future holds, both for your business, your industry and operations management as a whole.

While no-one can predict the future, identifying emerging trends will set you apart from other leaders and enable you to outperform competitors. Take a look at this blog post to get an idea of how Operations Managers are using automation to maximize efficiency and improve quality control, for example. It’s these innovations which drive your profession forward, and being able to predict and identify them will enable you to deliver value in your capacity as an Operations Manager.

6. Broad Outlook

When you work in Operations Management, you’ll need to be able to put things into context and establish how they fit into a bigger picture. You might focus on improving quality control, for example, but you’ll need to be able to determine what fiscal impact this has on the business as a whole and, therefore, what level of input can be justified. Alternatively, you might be negotiating with suppliers in order to streamline the supply chain, but you’ll need to determine whether a potential vendor can facilitate upcoming growth plans.

Operations Managers are adept at paying close attention to detail while maintaining a broad outlook and global insight. By combining these two approaches, you can ensure that your expertise allows you to make meaningful in-house changes to enhance your organization’s national or global performance.

Launching Your Career

Whether you’re looking for your first graduate role or you’re considering a career change, moving into Operations Management gives you the opportunity to enjoy fast-paced, energetic and varied roles. From learning the roles as an Operations Analyst and gaining experience as an Operations Team Leader, every position you hold will take you a step closer to achieving your goal of becoming an Operations Manager.

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