A large number of people are wondering whether operations management is a viable career option for them. Even though there are many different factors and possibilities when it comes to developing a career in operations management, it might be even more important to take a moment and self-assess your viability as someone in operations management.
What operations managers are typically like
The fact is that many operations managers are interested in applying enterprise control, quantitative analysis, and technology in their daily lives. This is not to suggest that someone who does not enjoy these factors should not become involved in operations management, but it holds true for the most part. This is just as true as the fact that operations managers, production managers, marketing managers, and sales managers often enjoy leading people.
Oftentimes you will see that the approach for people who are great at operations management can be described as engineering-like. This manifests itself in them applying quantitative analysis and technology. Oftentimes people in operations management enjoy ‘owning the process’, evidenced by the very high enterprise control score.
The important skills for operations management
What are the skills that are vitally important for operations management? Even though the exact set of skills is going to vary, depending on the job particulars, these are some of the most important attributes that you should possess or at least enjoy if you want to consider operations management.
- Technical knowledge – You need to understand the engineering processes and the systems. You have to have a decent understanding of how the procedures actually take place, otherwise it would be impossible to improve upon them or make recommendations.
- General business knowledge – Again, without generalized, multi-disciplinary business knowledge, it would be impossible to decide upon future changes.
- Strong interpersonal skills – Too many people assume that operations management means that you instruct people on what to do, and that is all. The truth is that it is imperative to the functioning within operations management that an operations manager can work effectively with and through other people. It is often said that changes need to be communicated properly, especially to those who are reluctant to change.
- Leadership – Even though an operations manager does not have to run an entire company, it is important that they have a certain authority when it comes to giving suggestions or recommending changes.
- Negotiation skills – It is one thing to come up with a great suggestion, it is another thing entirely to get all of the important parties on the same page. This means effectively negotiating with different parties such as unions, internal customers, and suppliers.
- Presentation skills – If an operations manager is successful, he or she will often interact with the corporate senior manager. Oftentimes it is important that the discussion take place in more business-oriented language rather than focusing on engineering talk.
Corporate versus consulting
It is possible to enter into operations management within a consulting environment or have a career in operations management in a corporate setting. The corporate setting will often lead to a far more balanced lifestyle. Even though it is possible for personal plans to become disrupted due to corporate manufacturing problems, the amount of travel required is often far less within a corporate setting.
Another lifestyle fact to remember is that operations management assignments will traditionally take place at manufacturing plant facilities. Oftentimes upward (or even sideway) promotions may require relocation to other plants. This can happen more than once during a career. Supply chain positions meanwhile are available at the manufacturing facility and company headquarters.
To learn more about a career in operations management and determine for yourself whether this is a field that you would be interested, see “Interviews with Masters of Operations Management”