Career Profile: Operations
Operations exist in all companies both formally and informally, the degree to which they are a part of the company depends on the organization. Most companies have established operations departments whose function is to ensure that all business processes are running efficiently and effectively. The scope and dependency organizations have on their operations departments varies, but it remains an important component of a company because it is that department that establishes a company’s infrastructure and supports the initiatives of a company.
The manner in which operations departments run varies according to the industry and company they serve. In manufacturing environments, operations departments are concerned with the production of a product and timely delivery to a customer at a profit to the company. In more corporate office environments, operations may be responsible for establishing processes and procedures and making sure that they are followed by the rest of the company for optimal efficiency.
Professionals in operations implement big picture ideas and leadership’s company goals into manageable and executable strategies that can be achieved throughout an organization. They also look to identify prospective problems and inefficiencies to remedy before they begin to affect the company and profitability. Similar to other departments within companies, in particular large organizations, operations has senior leadership, mid-level management, and administrative personnel to assist maintaining company processes.
Traditionally, there is a Chief Operating Officer (COO) who works with the other members of the executive team to determine the company’s vision. From there, front line managers, such as operations directors or managers work with staff to define goals according to the company plan. Activities such as hiring policies, where a company is headquartered, etc. are just a few of the responsibilities covered by an operations department.
A career in operations is very much focused on attending to the needs of the organization and involves participation at different levels of a company and the departments within it. In some cases, again, depending on the size of a company, operations may also encompass accounting, marketing, and sales. Career tracks available for those pursuing a career in operations include purchasing managers who oversee the purchasing operations of a company, process engineer who analyzes processes to make sure they are efficient, and operations manager who oversees the entire department, to the COO who is in charge of maintaining efficiency of all operational responsibilities.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job opportunities in operations are expected to grow at about the same rate as the average for all occupations. However, industries such as high tech will most likely have better employment prospects than other industries such as manufacturing.
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