A career in operations management demands an expert ability to get things done. A popular career choice for ex-military personnel, operations management focuses on streamlining processes as effectively as possible and requires the ability to apply logical thinking, especially when under pressure.
As the industry continues to change and grow, it also offers exciting opportunities within change management, management of risk, and management of benefits and outcomes.
A worthwhile area of work to consider upon leaving the Services, the duties of operations management roles are successfully met with the aptitude to demonstrate commitment, flexibility, perseverance and the ability to work well in a team - all skills that make up the core pillars of a rich career in the military.
James Clarke left the Army as a captain at the end of 2008, having served for seven years within the Royal Logistic Corps. He initially worked with Portakabin Ltd as a business development manager to help support the company’s growth. In 2014, he took on the role of commercial manager within the Portakabin refurbished business.
He says that operations management follows a structured environment that mirrors the operations of production within departments in the military. Many individuals have gained experience within health and safety, and quality management, which is highly prized within the industry.
David Thomas, formerly with the Royal Navy, is Health Service Senior Manager of Emergency Departments for both York and Scarborough Hospitals. He commented that although operations management experience is important, it’s the military propensity for resilience which transfers particularly well in the NHS – as is the ability to deal with problems in a dynamic environment.
David says, “In the military, we’re used to fast and rapid moving HQ – we have to prepare briefs, while providing on the ground solutions. In my role within the NHS I need to be tactical and act quickly in the moment in one situation, then switch to discussing plans on a more strategic level.” He adds “As an operations person, we have to deal with the detail on one hand and complexity on the other – a skill that’s developed very early on in the military.”
Operations management roles can present significant differences from one sector to another. The roles can vary greatly depending on the size of an organisation, or whether it’s public or private. For David, the NHS felt like a natural path to follow because it didn’t differ too extremely from the government departure structure of the MOD, on a national and regional layer. However, for Alex Dow, he found his niche in the commercial world, working for a larger sized organisation. After leaving the Army in 2011 as a Specialist Team Leader, he began working in his current role as Construction Operations Manager at Siemens, based in Manchester.
Many individuals may prefer to take the route of a smaller organisation like a start-up. Proving to be a great career choice for Will Orme whose first role after leaving the Royal Navy was as an Operations Director at Alertacall, an award winning start-up company that creates software technology to improve the quality and frequency of contact between clients and their customers.
Will’s earlier days of job hunting saw a great deal of feeling deflated at the number of job descriptions stating the need for ‘specific skillsets’. He now recognises that in a small business, you are given the opportunity to learn a broad range of skills – from selling to HR and planning and this particularly suits those who enjoy the challenge of continual learning.
Within a smaller organisation, as you’re less likely to be reliant on a third party, there is more opportunity to throw up ideas, learn by trial and error, and experiment in whichever way you see fit. The key is to get things done so that the business can deliver to it’s potential.
He adds: “In comparison, becoming master of your own destiny can take longer in some larger companies. In a smaller business you can have an immediate impact.”
Some example job titles for which an operations management qualification may be suitable are:
Operations Manager; Plant Manager; Store Manager; Facilities Manager; Warehouse Manager; Retail Area Manager; Planning Manager; Packaging Engineer
Operations management positions are generally well-paid, with the average salary for an operations manager ranging from £45,000 upwards per year.