These busy professionals work in a variety of industries in businesses of all sizes, managing teams, optimising processes and implementing strategies to achieve organisational goals. It’s an important role.

Whether you already work in operations and want to refine and enhance your skill set or you’re looking to move into operations management, an MBA may help you achieve your goals.

What is an operations manager?

You’ll find operations managers in government and private sector businesses in almost every industry, including finance, insurance, retail, manufacturing, healthcare and education. Operations manager roles vary depending on the industry and organisation. Generally, they’re responsible for managing staff and resources, business finances, communications and marketing, risk management and quality control.

What does an operations manager do?

As talented professionals, operations managers provide leadership and support in a range of ways. Operations manager duties can include:

  • hiring, training and managing employees
  • developing process improvement strategies
  • managing quality assurance plans
  • establishing and reviewing budgets
  • administering health and safety plans and procedures
  • preparing and managing organisational changes
  • running day-to-day operations

Glenn De Jong, a member of MBAus, is an operations manager at the food and beverage business NON. “My job as an operations manager involves working with the team to successfully execute the business plan,” he says. “This includes building an understanding of the business to facilitate an environment where the operational team can flourish.

“Whether working with upstream suppliers, the internal manufacturing processes or the downstream supply chain and customers, my goal is to minimise friction in the organisation’s operations.”

How to become an operations manager

A typical path to become an operations manager might look like the following:

  1. Complete a bachelor’s degree in business, commerce or a similar field.
  2. Work and gain experience in your chosen industry.
  3. Move on to leadership positions.
  4. Complete a related postgraduate course such as a graduate certificate or MBA.

Depending on the industry, an employer might also require qualifications in a particular field, such as engineering.

Before becoming an operations manager, Glenn earned a Bachelor of Engineering. “I worked in several operational sites (in manufacturing and industrial maintenance) in a variety of positions during my career.

“In each role, I was fortunate to be exposed to different business projects that expanded my range of experiences. This helped me grow my skill set beyond my immediate area of expertise and allowed me to appreciate other people’s roles and the problems they’re facing. Coupled with my MBA, this has enabled me to elevate to my current role as operations manager.”

Operations manager salary and jobs

According to SEEK, the average annual salary for an operations manager is at least $105,000 to $125,000 a year. Salary is affected by job location and industry – higher-paid industries include consulting, banking and financial services, construction and accounting. Postgraduate qualifications can also lead to more senior and advanced roles.

A look at the operations manager jobs available in Australia reveals there are a range of positions in industries such as manufacturing, transport and logistics, civil construction and healthcare. Employers in these industries offer attractive salary packages of about $140,000 to $160,000 a year with cars, phones and laptops to attract skilled and qualified staff.

More experienced operations managers can become heads of operations, where salaries offered are even higher, often exceeding $200,000 a year.

The operations manager skills employers are seeking

When filling operations manager roles, employers are consistently calling for professionals with a range of soft skills. They are looking for:

  • excellent written and verbal communicators
  • critical thinkers
  • proven collaborators
  • self-motivated professionals
  • great time managers

Depending on the role, the industry and the company, operations managers might also be required to have:

  • stock control experience
  • proven experience implementing new systems
  • a working knowledge of Lean principles (which include defining value, mapping the value stream, creating flow, using a pull system and pursuing perfection) and tools for streamlining processes
  • competency in relevant tech and software
  • digital system development experience
  • knowledge of health and safety regulations

How an MBA can give you the skills and qualifications you need

An MBA equips current and aspiring operations managers with a range of skills for career success. MBA units are generally developed to deepen students’ knowledge of how organisations work and the best ways to guide and lead teams. MBA skills include problem-solving and strategic thinking, as well as financial literacy. Students learn about collaborative approaches to working, negotiation and communication and often graduate with an enhanced network.

Glenn says he applied for an MBA course to develop a deeper understanding of how businesses work. “I had a technical background, and while I knew finance and marketing were important, I didn’t understand how they fully integrated into the business. After completing my MBA, it’s much clearer how these factors can drive a business to overachieve targets.”

Glenn says his MBA helped him develop a range of skills. “I am now able to appreciate the various stakeholders, negotiate better outcomes and deal with uncertainty. I have also developed my soft skills. Most importantly, the MBA has given me the stable foundation to work with people from all walks of life to achieve great results.”

Explore an MBA today

Are you considering an MBA for yourself? While you might be contemplating a specialised course, such as an MBA in operations management, a general course, such as those offered by MBA Discovery’s university partners, is a fantastic option for aspiring operations managers. Why? Because these courses allow you to work full-time and study.

Victoria University’s MBA features units well catered to operations management. You’ll learn how to lead teams in complex situations. The Strategic Management and Business Policy unit will help you successfully lead an organisation through growth and change. Financial analysis and planning, plus performance management skills are also a learning outcome of this course.

You’ll graduate from James Cook University’s MBA with deep knowledge of the management of information resources. Learning theories from sociology, psychology and organisational science, you’ll also develop a solid grounding in management and leadership that you can apply to your future career. Business innovation is also a focus of this course, where you’ll gain a deeper understanding of technology management.

As part of Southern Cross University’s MBA, students explore a variety of leadership styles and examine their own strengths and goals as leaders. As a student, you’ll develop your communication skills for management and examine the elements that influence organisational culture dynamics. You’ll delve into information systems and database concepts and theories and graduate with a broad understanding of modern finance.

RMIT’s MBA prepares you for modern leadership and helps you hone your skills in recognising and applying different leadership styles to enhance the performance of your teams. Managing business innovation is also a focus of this course, where you will learn how to manage disruptive technologies in sustainable ways. As a student of this course, you’ll also be encouraged to investigate human organisational behaviour.

So, is an MBA worth it? Glenn believes it is. “An MBA is the greatest investment in my career I’ve made to date, as it has compelled me to reevaluate how I see the world. An MBA will develop not only your business knowledge but also your soft skills and ability to work with diverse teams. This cannot be understated as it will enable greater business outcomes for the rest of your career.”

Take the next step in your career

Operations managers are crucial to the success of many Australian businesses, and a range of industries and business types are calling for skilled and qualified professionals to fill operation management roles.

MBA Discovery’s university partners offer MBA courses designed for busy professionals. Do you have questions about how much MBA graduates earn as well as how to apply for an MBA? Discover why an MBA is an ideal pathway to start or enhance your operations management career by speaking with a Student Enrolment Advisor today.

Speak to a Student Enrolment Advisor

Whether you’re ready to enrol, or just have a quick question, simply fill out the enquiry form below to speak directly to the university’s enrolment team. They will be able to guide you through:

Course eligibility and recognition of prior learning

Course structure and what you will study

Next intakes and how to apply

Fees and time commitments