A head of operations oversees an entire company, monitoring all employees and its finances. Heads of operations are sometimes referred to as the Chief Executive Officer, Chief Operations Officer, general manager or company president. They interview and hire managers for each department, and come up with ways to make sure the company remains stable and increase profitability.
Heads of operations don't necessarily need to be experts in every area of the company, but they do need to appoint people who are. They hold high-profile and almost always high-paying jobs, and usually answer to either an executive committee or a company's shareholders. Heads of operations analyse trends and markets and keep an eye on the competition, aiming to come up with new ways to draw interest in their business. They are expected to have great "vision" and take their company to new heights.
Heads of operations must possess excellent leadership skills, since their responsibilities lean more toward delegating than actually doing. In other words, they must motivate their employees to work as a team and find ways to keep morale high. They also must be top-notch communicators, acting as the "face" of the company and occasionally fielding questions from shareholders, board members or even reporters. Heads of operations also have to be extremely driven and organised, as well as creative, resilient and analytical. On top of those things, they need to be highly analytical, identifying issues and finding ways to overcome them.
Most heads of operations are highly educated, possessing a minimum of a bachelor's degree. Depending on the size and scope of their company, they might also need a master's degree or even doctorate. They also normally must spend a number of years as managers of at least one department, displaying a knack for coming up with ideas to make the company money.
Every company needs someone to run it, meaning jobs for heads of operations will always exist. That said, becoming a head of operations is typically a difficult task, as those who hold the position rarely have any reason to leave. In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of top executives is expected to experience little or no change through 2018. Still, some jobs may become available as heads of operations retire or switch companies, the BLS reports.
Heads of operations hold important positions and are often richly rewarded. According to the BLS, top executives earned a median annual salary of £59,520 in May 2008--with some making more than £86,450 per year.