Operations Director Roles and Responsibilities (With Skills)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 1 December 2022

Published 9 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

An operations director oversees all operational business activities of a company to ensure that the company achieves its business objectives productively. Operations directors serve on the board of directors and play a key role in ensuring business success. It's useful to know more about this role especially if you're in operations. In this article, we explore the roles and responsibilities of operations directors, discover the skills needed to be a successful operations director and share tips on how to become one.

Operations director roles and responsibilities

A key part of an operations director's roles and responsibilities is to direct the company's operations to ensure that the company reaches its goals effectively and efficiently. Depending on the company's size and its scale of operations, operations directors may be in charge of several areas and have multiple responsibilities. They may direct the overall operations strategy and oversee daily operations.

Here are some roles and responsibilities of operations directors in various areas:

  • Strategy: Operations directors play a key role in planning various aspects of the overall corporate strategy. These aspects may include the purchase of inputs, production of goods and distribution of products and services.

  • Management: In many companies, operations directors hold management positions. They make key business decisions with the management team that promote company growth and profitability.

  • Policies and processes: Operations directors develop policies and processes to ensure that daily operations run smoothly to achieve company targets. They implement policies related to cost and quality control to ensure profitability within a given budget.

  • Stock and inventory: Warehousing and distribution are examples of stock and inventory functions that operations directors are in charge of. Operations directors oversee the entire supply chain operations and manage the production schedule.

  • Budgeting: Managing a budget is a key responsibility for operations directors where they ensure companies maintain a healthy cash flow. They also track costs and revenue and make financial projections.

  • Product development: Operations directors support the development of new products that generate business revenue. They advise product development teams on areas such as product design and quality control.

  • People management: Operations directors manage teams and promote a safe and conducive working environment for operations staff so that they're motivated and productive. Operations directors also develop working relationships with suppliers and vendors.

  • Data and metrics: Apart from overseeing production, operations directors analyse data and metrics to evaluate company performance. They make recommendations and implement changes when necessary to maintain a company's competitiveness.

Related: Operations Director Resume Skills: Definition and Examples

Duties of operations directors

Operations directors typically work in an office setting and may sit at a desk for long periods. They may attend many meetings and may work evenings or weekends. Operations directors may work in large or small corporations and non-profit organisations. Here are some typical daily duties of an operations director:

  • oversee daily work activities of operations teams

  • approve or prepare operations budgets, production schedules and other reports

  • meet operations team leaders to discuss issues related to production, supply chain or distribution

  • manage workloads of various operations teams and delegate work as necessary to meet deadlines

  • resolve operations-related work problems such as supply delay, quality control or manufacturing issues

  • cultivate and maintain work relationships with suppliers and customers

  • ensure adherence to workplace safety guidelines

  • meet other departments to receive and provide updates on operations-related issues

  • identify operations areas that need improvement and develop plans and systems to promote productivity

  • provide work guidance and advice to subordinates and coach other colleagues

Related: Associate Director vs. Assistant Director (With Definitions)

Requirements of operations directors

Operations directors play a pivotal role in managing varied systems and processes needed for the company to achieve its targets. As directors, they hold senior management roles and usually have years of extensive operations experience. Here are the requirements of these professionals:

Degree or professional qualifications

Operations directors often hold a degree or qualifications related to business administration, finance or operations management. Some companies may seek an operations director with an MBA or a master's degree in fields such as supply chain management. Operations directors may also pursue operations management certifications to boost their credentials.

Related: What Can You Do With a Business Degree? 10 of the Top Jobs

Prior industry experience in operations

Many job openings for operations directors require candidates to have prior extensive experience in operations management. Companies may also prefer to hire operations directors familiar with the industry. Job advertisements for operations directors typically state that they require a minimum of 10 years of related industry experience.

Knowledge of diverse business functions

An in-depth knowledge of diverse business functions is a key requirement for operations directors as they manage multiple aspects of the company's operations. They hold roles and responsibilities in various areas that contribute to a company's operational success. They usually have a strong background in operations principles related to supply chain, stock and inventory, employee management and customer service.

Essential skills of operations directors

Operations directors require a diverse skill set as they typically manage diverse business functions within a company. Here are some skills of successful operations directors:

Technical skills

Operations directors require strong technical skills to manage all the operational aspects of a company's overall strategy effectively. The role requires proficiency with multiple technical software and applications such as production automation, data entry and budget management. Operations directors also work with large amounts of operational data such as sales volume, cash flow and product output.

Strategic planning skills

Aside from managing the day-to-day operations, operations directors play an important role in planning the overall operations strategy. Strong skills in strategic planning allow operations directors to perform their roles effectively. They make sound business decisions based on available information and anticipate potential risks and challenges. They then identify ways to mitigate these risks and come up with solutions.

Related: What Is Strategic Planning? With Benefits and Tips

Organisational skills

Operations directors lead a company's operations and require strong organisational and leadership skills to perform their roles successfully. They use their organisational skills to ensure that different functions come together to achieve business objectives efficiently. Successful operations directors who are well-organised create a working environment that motivates employees to meet production targets on time.

Problem-solving skills

Problem-solving is a key skill for operations directors. Problems may arise during production and operations, such as issues related to supply delay or quality control. Operations directors with good problem-solving skills can adapt to changing situations and come up with ways to deal with these concerns.

Interpersonal skills

Successful operations directors have good interpersonal skills. On a daily basis, they interact with people across different departments and use their interpersonal skills to build productive working relationships with others. They may also use their interpersonal skills to resolve conflict or to influence others to work towards business goals.

Salary of operations directors

The national average salary for an operations director is $11,317 per month. Operations directors are usually one of the highest ranking positions in companies. Their salary may vary according to the years of experience, size of company and nature of industry. Those with higher qualifications such as an MBA or director certifications may earn more.

Related:

  • What Does a Director Do? (With Roles, Salary and Skills)

  • What Does an Assistant Director Do? Definition and Duties

How to become an operations director

Operations directors are senior-level positions and their roles come with significant responsibilities. Companies often seek operations directors with relevant working experience, strong technical knowledge and proven business skills. Operations directors may work their way up from entry-level positions in operations or accumulate management experience in other areas.

Here are some steps you may take to pursue an operations director position:

1. Obtain a degree

Some companies prefer to hire operations directors with industry-specific educational qualifications. If you're undecided on which is your preferred industry, a degree in business, business administration or finance is typically relevant for executive roles such as operations directors. Pursuing an MBA may also boost your educational credentials and help to achieve your career goals.

2. Accumulate relevant work experience

If you've decided that a career in operations is your goal, start by gaining relevant work experience. You may start in a role such as operations associate and work your way up to become an operations manager. Larger companies may engage in large-scale operations activities. Look for opportunities to work in different aspects of operations to achieve a well-rounded work experience.

Related: The 3 Management Levels: Definition and Importance

3. Pursue technical certifications

As you work your way up to become an operations director, you may pursue certifications in technical areas such as supply chain management or project management. Earning these qualifications may show employers that you're committed to your career goals. They also help you keep up with the latest industry developments and trends.

4. Update your resume

Add your new qualifications and update your work experience or skills as you advance in your career. Include your work achievements and support them with concrete examples. For instance, if you've led an operations project successfully, show how you used your skills to achieve quantifiable company targets. Update your resume when necessary so that you're ready to apply for jobs if opportunities arise.

Related: 30 Director Interview Questions (With Example Answers)

5. Apply for operations director positions

If you're ready with the relevant education, experience and certifications, you may begin to apply for operations director positions. If you don't have prior management experience, be sure to emphasise that you're ready to move on to senior-level positions. Use your resume and cover letter to showcase your skills and expertise and highlight your work achievements with examples.

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