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Overview

An operations graduate career has a primary focus on the activities associated with a business’s main line of trade. Take the retail industry for example: their operations team would be in charge of the manufacture, shipment, tracking and pricing of their products. It would maintain online ordering services whilst also making sure that customer service teams are working effectively and efficiently. People in operations essentially work to make sure that the business runs correctly, and that all aspects are working efficiently together. The management team, to their lorry drivers, are all involved within the operations of the business.

Operations teams will exist in almost any company and are essential in making sure that a business is performing as it should be and to its best ability. Industries that place particular emphasis on operations include: manufacturing, transportation, FMCG, healthcare and retail.

Somebody suited to a role in operations would be happy to work outside of the box and out of the main spotlight. A career in operations supports small changes within a business to help build the bigger picture. They work behind the scenes to make sure each section of the business is working as it should be.

Average Operations Graduate Salary

Operations Graduate Career Path

Operations is a vast area, so an operations graduate career can vary between each sub-sector. These include:

Procurement Analyst/Demand Planners progressing to Procurement Manager

Purchasing managers oversee the purchasing of an organisation. Initial roles, such as procurement analysts, generally focus on a singular area of purchasing. For example, an individual may focus on investigating historical purchasing costs and trends, forecasting costs or finding potential vendors. It involves the source and selection of suppliers whilst negotiating competitive costs for materials and labour. Purchasing managers need to have excellent communication and negotiation skills.

Logistics Analyst progressing to Logistics Manager

Analysts and managers in this area of logistics focus on warehouse and distribution operations. They are responsible for the forecast, planning, information systems, and customer service areas of the business.

Operations Analyst progressing to Operations Manager

An operations analyst studies how the operations infrastructure functions. They attempt to find areas where systems are not working efficiently, working to find ways of improvement. An operations manager is responsible for overseeing the activities of the analyst whilst determining how processes should be implemented, outlining where performance needs to be improved.

Warehouse Operations Managers

The warehouse operations manager generally functions within retail, distribution and transportation industries. They are responsible for optimising and managing placements of inventory within a warehouse environment, ensuring that levels are recorded accurately.

Customer Service Representatives progressing to Customer Service Managers

Customer Service Representatives are in charge of resolving issues and maintaining customer satisfaction, while managers are in charge of leading the customer service team. The role ensures that support for representatives is key, meeting all the contracted requirements of service. They are also focused on developing processes of support centres, whilst working within other areas such as service costs.

Chief Operations Officer

One of the most senior roles in operations is the chief operations officer. They are responsible for making sure that all aspects of the operations team are working correctly. They also work to ensure that the back end of an organisation is functioning as it should.

Qualifications and Skills Needed

What proportion of candidates as a percent we place into Operations graduate careers and the typical qualities graduate employers look for.

GRB Placements for Operations by Degree

Typical Candidate Attributes

Roles in operations generally require a 2:1 after a 4 year degree course with an element of previous industry experience. Whilst most universities offer courses in operations management, a degree in Business is equally as good, dependant on whether you want a more or less technical role. Most companies will also look at Economics, Maths, and Finance for the more data-driven roles, such as Logistics Analyst or Operations Analyst.

The following skills are generally preferred:

  • Process driven
  • Analytically skilled
  • Team player
  • Organised
  • Innovative
  • Keen problem solver
  • Strong leadership skills

Sources for Further Information

Institute of Operations Management: www.iomnet.org.uk
Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply: www.cips.org
Society of Operations Engineers: www.soe.org.uk
The Institute of Operations Research: www.informs.org