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Why You Should Get an MBA In Operations For a Career In Fashion

September 01, 2021
woman with big hair sitting at desk in fashion office with mannequins

Looking to land a top job in fashion management, planning, production, or manufacturing? An MBA in Operations might be the perfect fit. This degree will fully prepare you for management and consulting jobs in the fast-paced, constantly-evolving fashion industry. Plus, it can equip you to help companies move toward a more successful, sustainable future.

If you’re intrigued by how an MBA in Operations can generate opportunities in fashion, keep reading to see what this degree entails and how it can help you create a front page-worthy career.

What’s the Difference Between an MBA in Production or Operations?

Before we dive in, let's clear up any confusion: at first glance, an MBA in Production and an MBA in Operations may appear to be different degrees. However, they’re actually the same degree with slightly different titles. Operations and production are closely connected and contain many of the same key components, so the two are often used interchangeably between universities. For the sake of consistency, we’ll refer to it as an “MBA in Operations” throughout the rest of this blog post.

An MBA in Operations combines the standard Master’s in Business Administration with a specialization in operations management/production. To put it simply, this graduate degree focuses on the way that a company can create, sell, and deliver products or services in a more cost-effective manner. While most MBA courses include general business topics such as marketing and finance, this program primarily focuses on operations management roles and responsibilities. Students will take courses on quality, supply chain management, global operations, project management, operations planning, service operations strategy, and more.1

Career Benefits of an MBA in Operations

Unlike a more general MBA, this degree specifically helps students discover new ways to develop and produce products and services to increase quality and cost-effectiveness, all while minimizing risks to an organization's profitability. You’ll become familiar with common processes, departments, and quality standards, as well as gain a global perspective of business and fashion trends.

Executives and hiring managers can tell the difference between someone who’s invested in the industry or is just in it for notoriety. With these highly sought-after, universal skills in your pocket, you’ll be a standout candidate for a wide variety of desirable fashion jobs.

How Your MBA Can Help You Add Value

When you first start to consider a career in fashion, an MBA in Operations may not seem that necessary or relevant. But when you take a closer look at the macro and micro levels of the industry, you’ll notice that operations are at the core of every transaction—from sourcing materials and hiring workers to perfecting production and delivery methods. As the fashion industry starts to “embrace the business world on multiple fronts, efficiently, economically, and ecologically,” more companies than ever are looking for candidates with MBAs in operations or similar fields.2 Brands, designers, and other fashion businesses now readily admit that they need those with a higher education to help them streamline processes, reduce waste, and increase profit.

Improve Quality, Improve Experiences

Poor product quality leads to wasted labor and ruined raw material, not to mention disappointed customers and negative reviews. Ultimately, this detracts from an organization’s reputation and its bottom line.3 To protect against this major pitfall, having in-depth knowledge of operations management means that you can help companies build high-quality production practices. This creates good production management and efficient raw material utilization to meet (or exceed) the performance, durability, and reliability expectations of the industry and its consumers.4

Reduce Costs, Shrink Overhead, and Boost Profits

Manufacturing is where a company makes or loses a majority of its money. The more it costs to manufacture a product, the more they have to charge for the product to cover those costs. As a result, customers might not be willing to pay the high prices, companies will have to cut spending elsewhere (e.g. employee wages), and they’ll lose business.

On the flip side, cost reduction from efficient, quality production means a company can charge a competitive price for its product.5 This is where you can come in: the expertise that you’ll gain with an MBA in Operations can help a company reduce the cost of producing goods while maintaining quality. With your valuable input, it’s a win-win situation, for you, your employer, and their customers.

Lead Brands to a More Eco-Friendly Future

Many fashion brands are wrestling with the uncomfortable truth that they contribute significantly to the high levels of carbon emissions, water pollution, and wasted materials every year. With 88% of consumers saying they want brands to help them be more environmentally friendly, several companies are pledging to rethink their ways.6 Rothy’s, Patagonia, and Levi’s are some of the current top fashion names who are leading the charge in sustainability, material recycling, and decreased pollution.

You can take what you learn from your MBA experience and use it to help companies rethink and restructure their production practices. Show your skills by suggesting projects that reduce wasted labor and ruined materials, and spend some time researching new measures to improve the current business model. Identifying opportunities to minimize environmental impact will show that you’re invested in the business and are looking toward the future.

Jobs for Graduates with an MBA in Operations

Armed with impressive skills and business acumen, you’ll be qualified for top-tier fashion jobs in planning, manufacturing, and producing several different kinds of goods and services.

Typical job titles for those with an MBA in Operations include:

  • Purchasing or production manager
  • Inventory coordinator
  • Warehouse operations manager
  • Supply chain manager
  • Operations consultant or analyst
  • Project manager
  • Marketing operations manager.7

Graduates with an MBA in Operations can work at a wide variety of companies within the fashion industry. That includes global and local brands (ranging from fast fashion to luxury apparel), large retailers such as Macy’s, and white-label manufacturers. An MBA can also lead to a higher salary, as the average U.S. operations manager earns over $120,000 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.8

Enter the Fashion Industry in Style

Become a leader in the fashion world by enrolling in one of the AACSB-accredited online MBA programs at the Albers School of Business and Economics at Seattle University. With each course, you’ll explore the impact of ethical, people-centric business practices and learn to apply this approach as you develop cross-functional mastery of all areas of operation.

Review our application requirements to get started, or connect with an Admissions Advisor to learn more about the program.

  1. Retrieved on April 8, 2021, from usnews.com/education/best-graduate-schools/top-business-schools/articles/2018-10-09/5-things-to-know-about-an-mba-in-production-or-operations-management
  2. Retrieved on April 8, 2021, from topmba.com/mba-programs/specializations/brand-management/how-get-fashion-management-mba
  3. Retrieved on April 8, 2021, from industryweek.com/operations/quality/article/22008165/five-steps-to-improved-manufacturing-quality
  4. Retrieved on April 8, 2021, from mbaknol.com/operations-management/total-quality-management-and-continuous-quality-improvement/
  5. Retrieved on April 8, 2021, from designbusinessengineering.com/the-whys-and-hows-of-product-manufacturing-cost-reduction/
  6. Retrieved on August 30, 2021, from forbes.com/sites/blakemorgan/2020/02/24/11-fashion-companies-leading-the-way-in-sustainability/?sh=2756965d6dba
  7. Retrieved on on April 8, 2021, from e-gmat.com/blogs/mba-operations-management
  8. Retrieved on April 8, 2021, from bls.gov/oes/current/oes111021.htm#(5)