About General Business Managers and Operations Managers
General business managers and operations managers oversee entire companies or business units within large or multinational companies. They may be responsible for operations within a geographic region, for a certain product line, or for a particular customer group. These high-level managers develop corporate policies, manage a company’s day-to-day operations, and oversee staff members.
Education and Experience Needed
While some general business managers and operations managers specialize in specific fields, most have a degree in business. A bachelor’s degree in business administration may be sufficient for some high-level managerial positions, but many executive roles require candidates to have a master’s in business administration (MBA).
Depending on your field, you may also need professional certification or third-party credentials.
Executives like operations managers and general business managers rarely take on these roles early in their careers. Instead, they typically have years or even decades of business experience before taking on an executive-level position.
Most begin as supervisors or low-level managers, move up to become middle managers, and eventually oversee departments or branches before becoming general business managers or operations managers. Many actively pursue new assignments, seek out additional training, or take on lateral moves in different departments in order to gain experience.
In addition to formal education and work experience, most high-level managers receive extensive corporate or on-the-job training. In many cases, they benefit from management training and development provided by their companies.
To achieve success in a high-level managerial position, operations managers and general business managers typically need strong leadership and management skills, along with decision-making and problem-solving expertise.
Since they need to communicate effectively with colleagues, staff members, and the general public, managers also need to hone their speaking and writing abilities. High-level managers also need good time management skills to balance their many tasks and objectives.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for general business managers and operations managers is $99,000. Compensation for executives tends to vary significantly by industry, though. Those who work in professional, scientific, and technical services typically receive the highest salaries, with median annual wages of $139,000.
Manufacturing, wholesale trade, and construction managers also tend to receive above-average salaries ranging from $102,000 to $112,000 per year. Operations managers and general business managers in the retail industry tend to earn median annual salaries of $73,000.
In addition to their annual salaries, some high-level managers receive other forms of compensation. Bonuses, stock options, and expense accounts are just a few of the extras that managers often receive.
Typical Duties and Tasks
General business managers and operations managers take responsibility for myriad tasks that touch on business strategy, staff management, budget creation, and financial objectives. Many of these executives handle daily operations for their designated units, where they develop and implement growth-focused strategies. They work with colleagues to establish key performance goals and direct assessment methods.
Many operations managers and general business managers are responsible for resource management, which includes materials and staff. They may handle procurement duties, such as overseeing inventory and purchasing supplies, and they may also take on human resources tasks, such as assessing staff needs and planning for departmental development. They may also handle financial duties, such as creating and overseeing budgets, managing supply chains, and controlling costs.
These high-level managers tend to be team players. Most directly oversee a team of middle managers, who handle much of the hands-on staff management. Operations managers and general business managers also work closely with chief executive officers (CEOs) and other top managers as they develop key strategies and strive to help the company grow.
Executive positions can be extremely competitive, but the most qualified, educated, and ambitious managers will often find opportunities to advance in their fields. After gaining experience as an operations manager or a general business manager, for instance, many candidates go on to become CEOs, vice presidents, presidents, or board directors.
As the BLS explains, the job market for general business managers and operations managers is expected to grow at an average rate over the next decade. However, the demand for CEOs is projected to decrease during this time. Since many new executive positions result from the creation or expansion of companies, executives who actively participate in the formation of new companies may better position themselves for these high-level roles.
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