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Career Path: How to Become a Business Operations Manager

The Business Operations Manager oversees every aspect of production and the day-to-day activities of an organization. In this role, you’ll use your business savvy and know how to streamline operational systems, build a talented workforce, improve quality and increase revenues. Opportunities for Business Operations Managers exist in a variety of industries including retail, construction, transportation, the hospitality industry and healthcare organizations.

To excel in this career, you’ll need to have strong managerial, communication and organizational skills. You might wor...more

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Career Path: How to Become a Business Operations Manager

The Business Operations Manager oversees every aspect of production and the day-to-day activities of an organization. In this role, you’ll use your business savvy and know how to streamline operational systems, build a talented workforce, improve quality and increase revenues. Opportunities for Business Operations Managers exist in a variety of industries including retail, construction, transportation, the hospitality industry and healthcare organizations.

To excel in this career, you’ll need to have strong managerial, communication and organizational skills. You might work closely with others in leadership such as the General Manager, Brand Manager, Human Resources Manager or the Quality Assurance Manager.

Degree and Education

Because you must have a thorough understanding of every aspect of business operations, a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree is required. You will be most attractive to employers if you have a Bachelor’s degree in management, finance, industrial technology or a related field. Some classes that would be beneficial to you in this position include statistics, cost accounting, marketing research, database design and organizational behavior. For highly technical businesses such as automotive or software manufacturers, a degree in engineering or computer systems might be more attractive.

Certifications or designations like Certified Business Analysis Professional, Six Sigma Black Belt Certification, Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) or Certified Business Operations Professional (CBOP) are other ways in which you can enhance your resume.

If desiring to advance into senior or executive level management, you can pursue an advanced degree in business (a Master’s in Business Administration). Schools like Harvard University, Georgia Tech and Duke University also offer Doctoral degrees in Technology/Operations Management, General Business Administration and Project Management.

How to Become a Business Operations Manager/Landing Your First Job

While pursuing higher education, you’ll want to gain valuable work experience in the business arena. Consider a job as a Retail Sales Associate or a work-study job such as Library Assistant or Resident Advisor. Additionally, getting involved with campus activities will look really good on your resume. Join a sorority or fraternity, student alliance or sports group. If elected to an office within the organization, you will further develop as a leader, increase your confidence and learn to motivate others.

In most corporations, the Business Operations Manager is not an entry-level position. Instead, you’ll need to acquire work experience in business-related areas such as manufacturing, retail management, customer service, supply chain management or financial controls. All of these are good career paths to becoming a Business Operations Manager. Other related job titles include Business Operations Analyst, Program Manager, Business Process Manager, Production Manager and Project Manager.

The Business Operations Manager should be a generalist with a knowledge of every aspect of running a business. Therefore, some skills you’ll want to highlight on your resume include team building, the ability to multi-task, experience with drafting budgets and program development. Some other skills an employer might be interested in include:

  • Computer skills – You must be familiar with software applications including word processing, spreadsheets, database management, e-mail and multimedia presentations.
  • People skills – The majority of the time you will be working with personnel. Only a small portion of your time will be spent troubleshooting problems with equipment or machinery. Therefore, being able to work with everyone from customers to stakeholders is crucial to your potential success in this career.
  • Negotiation skills – You will often need to use negotiation skills to solve problems or gain an advantage for your team or business.
  • Leadership ability – Having respect, being able to inspire, encourage and influence others on the team is an important trait of a strong Business Operations Manager.
  • Analytical skills – Extreme accuracy, thoroughness and attention to detail when reviewing financial spreadsheets, legal documents and corporate procedures is a skill that you will also need.
  • Meeting/presentation skills – Whether talking to the public or in a closed meeting with fellow managers, you must be able to confidently communicate strategies and ideas and summarize status reports.
  • Workflow process skills – As important, you will need to have both an analytical and creative mind. One of your core responsibilities will be to develop day to day business activities that keep employees motivated, supports team collaboration and improves functionality.

How to Become a Senior Business Operations Manager

After a few years of experience, you will be ready to take on more responsibility. At the senior level of business operations, you’ll work with executive leadership to revise operational policies and procedures to reach optimum performance, efficiency and customer satisfaction. You might also review and renegotiate contracts related to material purchases, equipment leases and building rentals. Depending upon the organizational chart, duties such as facilities management, logistics and distribution of goods is at times part of the job description.

Being a part of the managerial team, you’ll participate in numerous leadership meetings to brainstorm safety, performance, personnel and technical solutions. Getting promoted to Senior Business Operations Manager will require a successful record in cross-functional duties. You’ll also need to be a solid negotiator and able to influence both your superiors and junior personnel. An MBA (Master’s in Business Administration) might also give you an advantage over your competition.

To build your resume for a senior level position, you’ll want to record your job successes. Some things you’ll want to highlight include: reducing costs, leading a project, resolving problems, increasing sales and securing new clients. Keeping abreast of changes in both the field and industry are also crucial for career growth and development. It is important to subscribe to popular publications such as the Journal of Operations Management and other business journals. You should also become involved in professional associations and attend educational workshops/conferences to learn more about this career. Lastly, get to know others in the profession, an ideal set up for networking opportunities.

Business Operations Manager Job Description

The Business Operations Manager might work for a company that produces either goods or services. In this capacity, you will work with numerous departments and managers. This might include marketing, accounting, human resources, production and purchasing.

Concerned with quality and responsible for overall operations, you will recruit, hire and train both a production and support staff. Ensuring your staff complies with company standards and procedures, you’ll conduct audits/inspections, collect client feedback and building corporate promotions. Other administrative tasks include departmental budgeting, inventory control, accounts payable and staff scheduling.

Job Duties

  • Staffing
  • Training
  • Supervision
  • Accounts payables
  • Inventory control
  • Budgeting/financial management
  • Contract negotiations
  • Scheduling
  • Drafting managerial reports
  • Safety programs
  • Pricing
  • Managing relationships with customers/clients
  • Managing input/output of resources

Desired Skills

  • Strong analytical skills
  • Technical knowledge
  • Leadership abilities
  • Project and risk management skills
  • Procurement
  • Communication skills
  • Administrative skills
  • The ability to multi-task
  • Team-oriented
  • Microsoft Office Suite

Business Operations Managers often work full-time with some overtime hours. Attendance at evening or weekend marketing or public relations events might also be necessary. It can be a stressful job as you will have varied responsibilities and will be accountable for both the successes and failures of the production and manufacturing processes. Highly pressured at times, you may be in the hot seat if you are operating under a tight budget. In order to reduce costs, you might also have to make tough decisions related to employee layoffs or cutbacks. Staff meetings may become just as intense as you broach difficult subjects like poor team performance or non-compliance with corporate standards and procedures.

Business Operations Manager Career Paths: Where to Go From Here

So what are your long-term goals after 10 or more years of work experience? Having such a broad business background, there are several career paths and advancement opportunities that you can take as a Business Operations Managers. Direct promotions for Senior Business Operations Manager include that of Director of Business Operations, Strategic Planning Manager, Director of Supply Chain and Logistics, Chief Operating Officer or Vice President of Operations. However, many will choose to use their skills to transfer to another department as a leader or manager. This includes positions like Financial Controller, Executive Director (of a non-profit), Facilities Director or Human Resources Manager. Another option is to become a Consultant working with client corporations to help them maximize costs and performance. As a Consultant, you can work with a firm or start your own company.


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