Planning, directing and coordinating the activities of a public- or private-sector organization often requires the business acumen and finely honed skills of a director of operations. These executive-level professionals are counted on to keep businesses profitable and competitive through careful management of daily operations, from production to human resources.
The path to this challenging and rewarding career can begin with enrolling in a Master of Business Administration degree program.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts 11% job growth for top executives between 2012 and 2022, with slightly greater growth (12%) during that same period for the category of professionals known as general and operations managers. The increasing complexity and continuing expansion of the marketplace may spur demand for directors of operations across a wide variety of industries.
Candidates with advanced educational qualifications, broad experience and specialized knowledge should have stronger job prospects.
A company’s daily processes and functions dictate the duties of a director of operations. These professionals may work for government agencies, private organizations or publicly held firms. From top-level activities such as formulating policy and strategic planning to directing budgets and determining human resources needs, the responsibilities of a director of operations are typically varied.
In general, a director of operations takes the lead in managing all aspects of the organization’s operations to meet established objectives for growth and profitability. In this role, the operations director may be required to execute financial forecasts, develop tools to control expenses and oversee personnel management. Directors of operations may also oversee the production of goods and/or delivery of services.
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A director of operations may supervise a number of departments, including human resources, accounting, sales and distribution, and marketing. An executive in this role will usually assist department heads in establishing goals, policies, procedures, budgets and personnel needs. They typically take the lead in setting resource requirements, along with allocation and reporting.
According to BLS data, general and operations managers earned an average annual wage of $116,090 as of May 2013, with the top 25% in the field earning in excess of $147,000. Average salaries were higher for professionals employed in the financial sector, securities and commodity exchanges, and scientific research and development.
Prospective students are encouraged to conduct independent research as salary potential and employment opportunities vary based on factors such as work experience and educational qualifications, as well as regional market conditions.
Qualifications for director of operations positions vary, but a bachelor’s degree and appropriate experience are generally minimum requirements. Employers often show preference to candidates with advanced degrees, such as an MBA.
Coursework in a Master of Business Administration degree program typically includes international business, corporate innovations and new ventures, strategic cost management, and production and operations.
Employers should expect that professionals who have earned an MBA degree are able to:
If you are highly organized, attentive to detail and flexible, a career as a director of operations could be a good fit, offering a broad range of daily challenges and experiences. Enrolling in an MBA program can augment an individual’s interpersonal and analytical skills with real-world knowledge about operational processes and strategies in the global marketplace.