Operations Officer Job Description
Operations officers manage and optimize the day-to-day activities of companies in a variety of industries in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors. They typically work at the executive level and report directly to the CEO, which affords them a high level of influence but also an extensive list of responsibilities. This includes leading teams of workers, analyzing performance data, and strategizing for the future.Some operations officers are brought in to fixup struggling organizations, while others work slowly up the ladder of a single company over many years.Heavy schedules and high-pressure work environments result in long weeks that often exceed 40 hours. However, operations officers are well compensated for their efforts with comprehensive benefits packages and an above average salary.
Operations Officer Duties and Responsibilities
The exact nature of an operations officer’s work depends on their organization, but the following core duties are common across the field:
Oversee Operational Procedures
The operations officer’s primary responsibility is ensuring that their organization’s daily activities run smoothly. It is largely a managerial role that involves assessing current procedures, analyzing performance data, and updating policies to reflect recent developments.
Devise and Implement Innovative Strategies
The operations officer devises new strategies in reaction to market changes. These innovative procedures aim to increase company growth or efficiency. The operations officer is held personally responsible for effective execution of these new strategies.
Manage Available Resources
The operations officer prioritizes and manages company resources in order to meet goals and objectives. This includes both material and personnel resources, with operations officers often hiring, firing, motivating, and training staff.
Communicate Operations Performance
Regular analysis of operational activities allows the operations officer to assess overall company performance. They present this information to the executive leadership team through written memos and oral presentations. Operations officers also contribute to leadership discussions and assist in strategizing how to improve performance.
As an arm of executive leadership, operations officers are responsible for a subset of departments and teams. They develop successful, high-performance teams through effective training, motivation, and communication.
Review Market and Regulatory Developments
Keeping abreast of market and regulatory developments helps operations officers plan appropriately. They conduct consistent research and network with influential figures to stay up to date.
Operations Officer Skills and Qualifications
Effective operations officers are highly driven, results-oriented individuals who are comfortable working under pressure. Employers look for candidates with five or more years of business experience, plus the following skills:
- Leadership – as part of the executive leadership, operations officers motivate and direct employees to achieve high targets. They are comfortable managing multiple teams working collectively toward a single goal
- Resource management – operations officers prioritize and manage available resources, such as personnel and revenue. They must also exercise these skills to manage their own time and fulfill their extensive responsibilities
- Data analysis – an operations officer extracts critical and actionable information from large amounts of data. They regularly review performance and sales records to uncover how operations can be optimized for future growth
- Problem-solving– unexpected developments demand that operations officers exercise keen judgment and creative thinking. They must design time-sensitive and effective solutions to these problems while remaining calm under pressure
- Communication skills – operations officers use clear oral and written communication to manage large teams and convey critical information to the executive leadership team
Tools of the trade
Operations officers make use of a range of software to effectively communicate with their teams and analyze large banks of information:
- Operations management software (from Microsoft Office Suite to enterprise applications like NetSuite and OnSpring)
- Email (filters and folders are crucial for managing a full inbox)
- Data analysis tools (such as AdSense trackers and database reporting software)
Operations Officer Education and Training
Operations officers usually have a bachelor’s degree in business administration, finance, or accounting, plus at least five years’ experience in upper-level management. Although a master of business administration degree isn’t required to work as an operations officer, job candidates with an MBA are highly desirable.
Operations Officers Salary and Outlook
The median annual salary for operations officers is just under $100,000. Since operations officers work in small and large businesses, there is a wide range of salaries. The lowest 10 percent of earners make less than $44,000 a year, while the highest 10 percent earn over $200,000.
Operations officers can expect benefits like paid vacation, sick pay, and health insurance. The outlook for operations officers, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, is expected to grow at an average rate of 8% in the coming years. This projects almost 2.5 million positions by 2026.
The following resources will be valuable to those considering a career as an operations officer:
Chief Operating Officer Business Forum – the COO Business Forum gives members access to collaborative peer learning from business leaders across the globe, with frequent discussions on best practices, emerging trends, and business results
The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement – Eliyahu M. Goldratt and Jeff Cox’s book on management thinking has been cited as an influential favorite from several leading operations officers
LinkedInCOO Network – this LinkedIn group includes more than 40,000 chief operating officers who use the group to share ideas and knowledge of recent business developments
Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done – another favorite of successful operations officers, Larry Bossidy, Ram Charan, and Charles Burck used their world-class expertise to write this guide to effective leadership and strategy
APICS – this association is the leading provider of research on supply chains, logistics, and operations management. Members have access to journals, research documents, and other valuable resources
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