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Women Thriving in Operations Roles - Insights from Industry

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It’s widely acknowledged that numerous industries still face challenges regarding gender representation. In operations, women make up only a fraction of professionals, highlighting a significant underrepresentation in this field.

Despite progress, the proportion of women in operations management remains low, with just 14% occupying management roles. At GRB, we recognise the importance of addressing this issue. As a glimpse into gender disparity, we've reached out to graduates that we've successfully placed in operations roles to share their perspectives on working in the industry.

If you’re a woman considering a graduate role in operations, or just interested in finding out more, read on!

What responsibilities does a job in Operations include?

Operations management involves the strategic planning, organisation, and supervision of business processes, to enhance profitability through improvements. 
This can include a comprehensive analysis and measurement of current processes, ensuring that they align with the company's overarching goals. 
Put simply, a role in operations will include streamlining processes to improve business efficiencies and maximise opportunities for growth and profitability.

Hear from some GRB graduates in Operations roles

Meet Karishma, an Economics and Geography graduate from the University of Leeds, now serving as a Graduate Project Manager in Operational Analytics for a thriving grocery e-commerce platform. 
We’d also like to introduce Hannah, a Business and Management graduate from Nottingham Trent University, participating in a Graduate Commercial Leadership Scheme with a reputable equipment rental group. 

Another successfully placed graduate, Rachel, a Management graduate from the University of Leeds, and Liberty, a Geography graduate from the University of Nottingham, both excelling as Operations Managers at a globally renowned eCommerce company.

Let's dive in with some questions…
When asked about their career choice, Karishma explained, "Studying Economics and geography taught me to analyse what drives business success by enhancing efficiency through streamlined operations, while geography deepened my understanding of adapting to unforeseeable factors." Rachel added, "Initially, I wasn’t drawn to operations, but as I researched for my interview, I discovered how my retail skills directly correlated with operations."

Reflecting on their experiences, Rachel expressed, "It's been amazing! I've tackled personal and professional challenges, pushed beyond my comfort zone, and evolved into a better version of myself." Liberty concurred, stating, "It's exceeded my expectations. The fast-paced nature keeps me engaged; every day presents new opportunities."

Highlighting the allure of a graduate role in operations, Hannah noted, "The diversity of challenges keeps you on your toes. Whether it's being reactive or proactive, it touches every aspect of the business - finance, customer service, compliance, marketing." Karishma added, "I relish the dynamic environment and the opportunity to find innovative solutions. Working in operations fosters invaluable skills applicable across various careers."

Addressing the gender gap in operations roles, Hannah remarked, "The male-dominated nature of ops historically deters women, especially when faced with being the only woman in the workplace or as a manager." Liberty echoed, "Women are underrepresented as it's not the conventional choice. We need to recognise and leverage our unique skill sets beyond conventional norms."

To aspiring women considering operations careers, Rachel offered the following advice, "Find a company aligned with your values; a successful and fulfilling career in operations awaits." Liberty agreed, "Don't hesitate; embrace the challenge! If you thrive in diverse, fast-paced environments, operations is the perfect fit."

So, there you have it. Despite gender disparity in the industry, there are still a number of women thriving in successful operations careers, launched by graduate opportunities. The best part? You don’t have to have a degree in operations to be successful in an operations role. 

group of women talking around a table

What skills and experiences are nice to have in operations roles?

Most skills and experiences will provide you with transferable skills for a career in operations. We’ve listed a few below that are particularly relevant to the core job functions within operations and operations management.

  •  Strong analytical abilities will enable anyone in an operations role to assess complex situations and optimise processes for efficiency. 

  •  Effective communication skills are essential for collaborating with diverse teams and stakeholders. 

  •  Adaptability and resilience enable the navigation of fast-paced environments and the ability to overcome challenges. 

  •  Leadership qualities empower, inspire and motivate teams toward common goals. 

  • Any experience with project management, logistics, or data analysis can provide valuable insights and enhance the efficiency of operations.

Are you interested in kick-starting a career with a graduate role in operations? 

We’re excited to be able to highlight two Graduate Operations Programmes, with leading passenger transport providers Go North East (Newcastle) and Go North West (Manchester).

About the Graduate Operations Programme 

On the 18-month Graduate Operations Programme starting September 2024, you will undergo rotations, giving you a broad understanding of the business and how it operates. You’ll get the opportunity to work on industry-leading projects and gain hands-on experience in areas such as:

  • Depot Operations
  • HR - Recruitment and Training
  • Commercial
  • Marketing and Customer Service
  • Health, Safety and Risk
  • Engineering
  • Driving a bus in service – get your PSV licence!
  • Secondment to another local Go-Ahead branch (Go North West or Go North East)

With this structured operations career path, at the end of the scheme, you will be able to specialise in an area within the operations function, where you will continue to be supported and developed.

Interested in a career in operations? Find out more and make your application for a career in operations with Go North East or Go North West, today! 

Go North East - Graduate Operations Programme

Go North West - Graduate Operations Programme

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Now in our 20th year, Graduate Recruitment Bureau (GRB) is the UK's highest review-rated graduate recruitment consultancy. Every day our teams of sector-specific experts get contacted by major graduate recruiters, SMEs and start-ups who are looking for high calibre university students and graduates.

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