What are the typical career paths in Operations Management?
• Consulting. Most consulting projects are not only related to developing strategy but also to executing strategy, which by definition is operations management. Although consulting projects that refer to “operations” typically consist of identifying and alleviating bottlenecks in manufacturing and service oriented firms, many consulting projects that do not mention “operations” explicitly are geared towards the deployment of technology solutions to streamline processes in service, manufacturing, and government organizations. As The Economist reports, “even the elite three [McKinsey, Bain and Company, and the Boston Consulting Group] now make most of their revenue from implementing ideas, from finding ways to improve clients’ internal processes and from other tasks not traditionally considered “strategy consulting”.”1 Major consulting firms recruiting at UCLA Anderson include Bain, BCG, Deloitte, Ernst & Young, IBM, McKinsey, Mercer, PriceWaterhouse, and ZS Associates.
• Technology Management. The value proposition of many technology firms is operations-driven. For instance, Amazon.com reduces the effort involved in online shopping to one click; Paypal makes payment processes seamless; and Salesforce.com creates unprecedented opportunities for managing a pipeline of potential and existing clients. Product-based firms are embracing technology and big data to streamline their processes. For instance, Zara collects information about their customers’ preferences in their stores and uses it to create the design of new collections. Disney parks provide RFID wristbands to their visitors and have therefore real-time information on the most congested areas of the park. For UCLA Anderson, representative recruiting companies in that space include Adobe, Amazon, Apple, Cisco, eBay, Google, HP, Intel, Microsoft, SanDisk, Symantec, and Yahoo!.
• Supply chain management. Within a corporation, operations management is often associated with supply chain management. Take Mattel for instance. Every year, 80% of their products are new. For each of these products, supply chain managers must determine where to produce them, whether to insource or outsource their production, and how much they need to produce. Given that most of their sales occur during a two month window, most of these decisions must be made a long time before the Christmas season. Some representative companies that have hired recent UCLA Anderson graduates in this area include Amgen, Caesars Entertainment, Google, Green Dot Public Schools, Mattel, Microsoft, and Tesla Motors.
There are many other positions that extensively use the tools of operations management, even if they are not branded as such. For instance, internal consulting, product management in technology firms, and quality management (e.g., think of Six Sigma Black Belts) are heavily operations-driven. In fact, more and more CFOs and CEOs are now taking direct control of a company’s operations.