A director of operations oversees the day-to-day operations of a business, ensuring maximum efficiency, quality and productivity while minimizing costs, waste and ineffectiveness. A director of operations plays a crucial role in the success of any size or type of business.
What does it take to become a director of operations?
This is considered a top-level executive position, generally requiring a college degree and a certain level of professional experience. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the majority of top executives have at least a bachelor’s degree and considerable work experience. It’s possible to earn such a position without a degree, but this is usually done by working your way up through the company ranks.
Because a director of operations may work in any field, from media to manufacturing, health care, food service or finance, degree subjects vary widely, but often include business administration or operations management.
You should also be a creative problem-solver. Would different materials improve cost or quality? Is there a way to streamline the system? Communication skills are of critical importance, because the ability to effectively communicate policies and motivate workers will drive your company’s success. And it’s important to be able to wear different hats. For instance, you’ll need skills in accounting, since you are likely to oversee an operations budget, but you’ll also need “soft skills” like empathy and teamwork, as well as technological know-how, since your company’s day-to-day work will usually depend upon it.
Finally, ensure that you’re up to date in your field by obtaining the latest certifications and continuing education, and become an astute observer of trends in your field. You can’t be a director of operations without constantly seeking ways to learn and evolve.
Where does a director of operations work?
Directors of operations can be found in all types of businesses. You might work for a food manufacturer, overseeing the production of raw materials into packaged snack foods, or at a hotel or resort, supervising the overall workings of every aspect from the front desk to housekeeping, to ensure that guests enjoy a quality experience. In a hospital, you’d seek ways to trim costs, improve facilities and equipment and improve patient outcomes.
Although you may find directors of operations anywhere, the jobs all have some things in common: inventory management, budgeting, process management, marketing, total quality management and transportation are all part of the job.
The future of director of operations jobs
The BLS says that these top executive jobs are among the most highly paid in the economy. Growth among them is projected at 0 percent, simply because they are highly coveted, relatively few in number and directors of operations tend to remain in these positions for a longer time than in other jobs. However, the BLS also suggests that certain fields may see more growth than others–health care, for instance.