Starting a career as a chief operating officer will allow you to focus on operational excellence, resource management, and cross-functional collaboration to drive the organisation’s success. This career is highly vital because it can bring numerous benefits to a company. A chief operating officer also plays a key role in driving innovation and changes in an organization.

A position as chief operating officer is the second-most senior executive in the company. As a result, before you can attain this career path you must have the needed skills and the right educational background.
This piece will walk you through the requirements and the steps that are needed to pursue a career as a chief operating officer.

How to Start a Career as a Chief Operating Officer

  1. Obtain a Bachelor’s Degree

    You need a bachelor’s degree to start a career as a chief operating officer. You can obtain a degree in disciplines such as business management, business administration, or a related field. These disciplines will give you foundational knowledge that will enable you to navigate your career efficiently.

  2. Obtain a Graduate Degree or an MBA

    This may not be a compulsory requirement. However, some employers or organisations might prefer to hire COOs with a graduate degree or an MBA. Additionally, a graduate degree will give you access to more opportunities and a good career income.

  3. Gain Practical Experience

    You need to start working in your preferred industry for at least 10 to 15 years before you can advance to a COO position. Therefore, you must start acquiring those experiences early enough. You can start gaining experience through internships or trainee programs. You can gain experience in areas such as logistics, operations, production or project management. Additionally, gaining experience will allow you to develop leadership and project management skills.

  4. Obtain Professional Certifications

    Acquiring professional certifications as an operations manager can boost your reputation and competence. Additionally, you can gain advanced knowledge in various areas of this field. You can acquire Certifications such as Certified Manager of Operational Excellence (CMOE) or Project Management Professional (PMP).

  5. Build Vital Skills

    As a chief operating manager, you require a wide range of skills to efficiently carry out your duties. You can develop skills such as problem-solving, leadership, project management and communication. You can build these skills through experiences, and professional courses.

  6. Join Professional Associations

    You need to build a professional network with colleagues and experts in this industry. You can do this by registering with professional associations and attending industry events.

  7. Commit to Continuous Learning

    This field is a dynamic one. This is because you can work in different sectors and industries as you grow in your career. Therefore, it is critical to stay current on industry trends, new technology, and best practices. Additionally, you can participate in ongoing learning opportunities such as workshops, conferences, webinars, and appropriate professional development programmes.

Crucial Skills for a Chief Operating Officer

  1. Strategic thinking
  2. Communication skills
  3. Business acumen
  4. Multitasking
  5. Leadership skills
  6. Operational Efficiency and Process Optimization
  7. Organizational development
  8. Stakeholder management
  9. Innovation
  10. Adaptability

Types of Chief Operating Officers(COO)

  1. Technology COO

    They have a strong focus on technology and innovation. Additionally, they are responsible for utilising technologies to enhance operational efficiency and drive digital transformation.

  2. Operations COO

    They are responsible for managing the daily operations of an organization. Their major responsibilities include duties such as driving operational excellence and improving productivity in an organisation.

  3. International and Global COO

    This kind of COO handles cross-border issues, handles cultural differences, and negotiates the complexity of international marketplaces.

  4. Strategy Focused COO

    This kind of COO makes sure that the organization’s operational actions complement its strategic aims and objectives. Generally, they analyse market prospects, appraise possible business projects, and help formulate the organization’s overall strategy.

  5. Financial COO

    This sort of COO combines operational and financial knowledge to drive financial performance, manage budgets, optimise resource allocation, as well as maintain solid financial practices throughout the organisation.

Universities in Africa that Offer Business Administration Degrees

  1. Lagos Business School- Pan Atlantic University, Nigeria
  2. Gordon Institute of Business Science- University of Pretoria, South Africa
  3. Strathmore Business School- Strathmore University, Kenya
  4. Henley Business School- South Africa
  5. The American University in Cairo School of Business, Egypt
  6. ESCA Ecole de Management, Morocco
  7. Graduate School of Business, University of Cape Town, South Africa
  8. University of Stellenbosch Business School, South Africa
  9. Wits Business School- University of Witwatersrand, South Africa
  10. Milpark Business School- Milpark Education, South Africa

Pursuing a career as a chief operating officer can give several unique options in the business, as well as skill-based employment prospects. As a result, once you’ve defined your areas of competence, you may evaluate your selections. You must have solid business and management experience. This will enable you to interact with businesses and handle many types of activities. Furthermore, you must possess the appropriate skills and knowledge in the industry in which you wish to operate as an operations manager.

Good luck!

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