Top 5 MBA in Operations Management: Responsibilities, Career Options, Opportunities and Job Roles

Operations Management (OM) is the science of streamlining the design as well as management of processes, products, supply chains and services. It deals with the process of producing goods, and delivering services. OM ensures the efficient utilization of resources, be it within the organization or outside. It also delivers goods and services promptly to fulfill client needs.

What are the applications of Operations Management?

Operations Management can be applied at various levels, based on the location and size of a manufacturing plant to the structure and delivery of a service or a telecom network, and could even include designing technology supply chains. Besides the overall perspective, this management stream also deals with tactical and technical details such as plant layout, project management techniques, technology & equipment selection, and replacement of older methods or machinery. The operations management team also determines production schedules, manage inventories, control quality and manage material flow. A plant's equipment management and maintenance policies are also set by them.

What are the responsibilities of Operations Management personnel?

In the global marketplace, Operations Management personnel are the backbone of a company's operations, determining costs, quality and delivery of products and services. They are involved in all processes, right from choosing the right raw materials to selecting suppliers, and providing a customer experience to savor. They ensure that a company's strategy is implemented on the ground, whether in the factory or in the marketplace. As a result, Operations Management has become a critical function, especially when it comes to ecommerce or technology products, where suppliers as well as customers are spread across the world, and expect quality products or services. Optimal operations can thus ensure a competitive edge and is the key factor upon which the long term success of a company lies.

What does an MBA in Operations Management Offer?

MBA programs offer students the expertise to tackle the vast and complex sphere of Operations Management. The curriculum focuses on conceptualizing, implementing and tracking various processes. The processes could involve capital, labor, raw material, information, technology and the customer. Students learn how to connect all the disparate elements that make a product or service into a smooth, replicable structure. They understand various quality processes like Six Sigma. The programs also stress on innovation and efficiency with Lean Operations and Lean Six Sigma. MBA students master methods of implementing a process and learn to apply measurement systems. Of late sustainability and environmental issues have become a part of the top curricula. For details download our MBA Research Guide.

Operation Management Career Options

Operation Management careers can be at various levels, including strategic, tactical and operational. Nearly every type of organization and sector requires strong Operations Management, especially the service, manufacturing and retail industries. Management consulting and IT are 2 other sectors of potential employment. Responsibilities could stretch from handling a region, to covering the globe.

Possible roles include
Sales or Marketing Operational Manager, Operational Manager of a particular section or department, overall Operations Manager, Business Analyst, Senior Associate, and Operations Consultant.

Here are our top 5 picks for MBA in Operations Management

1) MIT Sloan

Sloan's Operations Management Group is at the forefront of all related activities and is rated
as the best in this field. The group fosters interaction with a wide variety of disciplines like Operations Research, Marketing, Industrial Engineering, Behavioral & Organizational Sciences, IT and Microeconomics. It is well known for cutting-edge research in Operations Management and Systems Dynamics that includes Strategic Sourcing, Supply Chain Management, eCommerce, Pricing, Quality, Inventory Control, Process Design and Product Development. The school also has a host of Research Centers that help advance the curriculum and students' knowledge in this field. They are The Lean Advancement Initiative, Operations Research Center, MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics and Productivity from Information Technology.

The core curriculum includes subjects like Economic Analysis for Business Decisions, Organizational Processes and Intro to Operations Management. Students seeking a career in Operations Management can choose from a wide range of relevant electives, including from 2 particular streams - Operations Management, Operations Research/Statistics and System Dynamics. Some of the electives on offer include International Supply Chain Management, Seminar in Operations Management, Manufacturing System and Supply Chain Planning, Management of Supply networks for Products and Services, Management of Services, Logistics Systems, Systems Optimization, Queues - Theory and Applications and System Dynamics for Business Policy.

Sloan also provides the opportunity of completing a Sustainability Certificate that teaches students how to transform markets, communities and organizations for sustainability. For the past 3 years, the Operations & Project Management function, has been consistently ranked #3, after Consulting and Finance. In 2012, Operations accounted for 9.5% of the class, at a median base salary of $118,500.

2) Carnegie Mellon University - Tepper School

Carnegie Mellon University's Tepper School of Business is renowned for its Operations Management curriculum, which covers a large range of subjects and offers MBA students wide choices. The school also leads in research through its Carnegie Bosch Institute for Applied Studies in International Management, and Center for Organizational Learning, Innovation and Knowledge. Together, they cover areas like global orientation of business, organizational behavior, operations management, information systems, strategy, and economics.

The 1st year core curriculum covers 2 subjects in Operations Management, and one in Statistics & Decision Making. Students can then pick tracks like Global Enterprise Management or Management of Innovation and Product Development for careers in Operations Management. They can also pick from 13 concentrations that include options like Information Systems, Operations Management and Operations Research & Statistics.
The Operations Club at Tepper promotes operations management, supply chain, production, manufacturing studies and operations research. It also holds events that help students understand subjects related to Operations Research. They include the Operations Boot camp, Nuts about ops speaker series and the annual International Case Competition (ICC).

In 2012, Operations/Supply Chain/Logistics Management functions hired 5.39% of the class for a median salary of $110,000.

3) Wharton School of Management

Wharton's Operations and Information Management Department strives to improve quality and productivity of organizations through research and education. It focusses on innovation, negotiation, decision making, efficient service delivery, making choices under risk, internet-based technologies & services, and supply chain design. The Fishman-Davidson Center for Service & Operations Management, studies operations in the service and production sectors, through research, forums and workshops.

Wharton's Fixed Core curriculum teaches Operations Management, while the Flexible Core offers Operations Management subjects like Business Analytics, Information Technology, Innovation and Operation Strategy. Students can then choose up to two majors, with options for Operation Management careers like Environmental and Risk Management, Information: Strategy and Economics, Marketing and Operations Management (Joint Major), Multinational Management, Operations and Information Management and even an Individualized Major.

The Operations Club supports professional interests in Operations and Information management. It organizes Simulations, Case Competitions, Factory Tours, Industry Speaker Series, Factory Tours, and Career Advice & Interview Preparation. While the Operations/Production Management function saw less that 1% hires in 2011, General/ Project Management saw 5.5% of the class being hired. Overall, the median salary at Wharton was $110,000.

4) Purdue University - Krannert School of Management

Purdue University's Krannert School of Management has a strong focus on Operations Management, with research centers such as Center for Customer Driven Quality, Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER), Digital Enterprise Center, Global Supply Chain Management Initiative (GSCMI) and Purdue E-business Research Center. GSCMI incorporates cross-disciplinary research from sales, marketing, manufacturing, product design, IT and finance. It studies sourcing & procurement, logistics management, channel partners, customers, and supply & demand management.

The core curriculum at Krannert covers Business Analytics, Operations Management and Management of Information Systems. Students can choose up to 2 concentrations called study areas, which offer a very wide choice of options for students looking to work in Operations Management. They include Management Information Systems, Operations, Global Supply Chain Management, International Management and Manufacturing/Technology Management. These concentrations are also functional areas where students can expect to be placed on graduation.

The Operations Club organizes Speaker Series, Plant tours, Workshops, Case competitions, Guest speakers and Information sessions. Krannert has the highest percentage of students who have found employment in the Operations Management function - 34%. The overall median salary for the class of 2012 was $87,500.

5) Ross School of Business

Ross has a Technology & Operations Department that utilizes technology to transform processes and create lasting value. R&D is focused on supply chain management, manufacturing & service operations, IT, Business Innovation and Business Analytics. The Tauber Institute for Global Operations partners with the Ross School and the College of Engineering at University of Michigan. It empowers careers in Operations Management with education in operations, supply chain and manufacturing, using a cross-disciplinary, action-based teaching process. The center gives students the opportunity to attend a 14-week consulting projects for companies, tackling operations management, supply chain, as well as manufacturing issues.

Ross' core curriculum covers Operations Management while the electives include courses like Applied Regression and Data Analysis, Manufacturing and Supply Operations, Project Management, Global Supply Chain Management, and the Tauber Institute Team Project. The Operations Management Club gives students the means of obtaining a career in Operations through the Annual Global Operations Conference and other events that provide hands-on experience in Operations Management.

In 2012, the Operations/Engineering Management function took up 2.5% of the class, with a median salary of $110,000. The Operations/Process Consulting function hired 1.4% of the class, with a median salary of $125,000.

Recommended Resources

1) MIT Sloan Operations Management
2) Operations Management Club - Tepper School
Wharton Inside Operations
4) Krannert Purdue Operations Management
5) Ross Operations Management Club

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