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Using Your MBA in Production or Operations Management Roles

May 13, 2022
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A career in production management or operations management can be a highly rewarding life choice. It offers tremendous opportunities to combine a wealth of personal strengths with the leadership skill and business expertise taught in the best MBA programs—all with the goal of optimizing business output.

The terms “production management” and “operations management” are often used interchangeably. Although there is significant overlap, or at least intersection, between the two fields, they’re distinct from each other in several important ways.

Read on to explore key similarities and differences between production management and operations management. Consider a number of personality traits that will help you thrive in these areas, along with the skills—gained as an MBA student—which will prove indispensable to your company and your career.

The Need for an MBA in Operations Management Positions

An operations department focuses on strategies that maximize its company’s potential, from efficient product design and quality control to supply chain optimization and cost-minimization.1

Operations management involves planning, organizing and controlling the production of goods or the provision of services. Focused on efficiently utilizing resources to ensure an optimized output, it involves diverse, essential tasks, including:2

  • Resource procurement
  • Stakeholder communication
  • Report generation
  • Process improvement

Each of these is crucial to the success of the entire process. When companies are hiring, therefore, they look for seasoned professionals whose educational background has prepared them to understand the processes within the company, identify areas of improvement and scopes of innovation, and work under tight deadlines. For this reason, among others, you’ll be in a prime position to use your MBA in operations management work.

Successful operations managers understand their company’s values. Further, they’re adept at:

  • Budget development
  • Conflict management
  • Critical thinking
  • Data processing
  • Deadline management
  • Decision-making
  • Organization
  • People management
  • Stress management

Broadly speaking, operations management is prominent in the areas of manufacturing/production and service. The production manager for an automotive company, for example, needs a firm command of resource and logistics management, in order to ensure a product that gets to market in sufficient supply to meet demand. In a healthcare organization, though, the operations manager will be more involved in interpersonal service: admitting patients, assigning the right professional to provide care, documenting medical histories, handling finances, and so on.

Operations managers:

  • Focus on production management as well as product production
  • Have skills and responsibilities that involve managing internal employees and communicating with external clients or customers
  • Work with people, budgets, and logistics
  • Are often employed by administrative businesses such as banks or hospitals

The Need for an MBA in Production Management Positions

Production management centers on the transformation of inputs and raw materials into a company’s finished products. It encompasses planning, coordination, supervision, control and decision-making regarding resources and output.

Production managers strive to achieve smooth production processes through efficient planning and control of business operations. With the goal of optimizing production capacity to keep expenses low and meet customer expectations for quality and timeliness, they look to create and maintain an ideal balance of quality, quantity, time, and cost. Again, you’ll be poised to use the skills you acquired as an MBA in production management leadership.

Production managers:

  • Focus on the physical production of a product
  • Benefit from technical design skills that require a hands-on approach to a product
  • Are typically employed by industrial businesses that create physical products

Clearly, operations managers and production managers do similar work and need similar expertise. In some businesses, one person handles the responsibilities of both positions. The skills and experience held by production managers and operations managers often overlap, so it can be easy to move between roles. Many small-and-medium-sized businesses (SMBs) make little differentiation between the two but in companies where both roles exist, a production manager will usually report to an operations manager.3

Personal Traits and Expertise of Successful Production and Operations Managers

Production managers and operations managers are usually highly motivated and organized people who are naturally good leaders. Strong candidates for an MBA on an operations- or production-focused path have significant people skills: they’re reliable, respectful and self-motivated; effective communicators; adept at persuasion, mediation and conflict resolution; able to adapt quickly to changing needs; and graceful under pressure when diplomacy is called for. They need the skill and confidence to make business-critical decisions independent of higher management.

An MBA that highlights operations and production will aim to strengthen these personal traits and will then teach the expertise that helps managers take responsibility for business success. Once you develop a combination of strong analytical skill along with excellent people management and financial sense, you’ll have the winning formula required to excel in these fields.

The Value of Your MBA in Operations or Production Management Roles

A high-quality MBA program will equip you with the expertise to manage the operational or production side of running a business—which will make you a vital asset to your company. In your graduate program, you’ll learn to:

  • Optimize resource usage and the efficiency of the supply chain
  • Streamline processes
  • Maximize employee efficiency
  • Manage finances
  • Maximize company profits
  • Oversee and manage the teams that develop, produce and market your company’s products

The skills you gain as an MBA student will help you lead teams to success in areas such as:

  • Operations management and strategy
  • Supply chain design and management
  • Manufacturing strategy and process
  • Product design and development
  • Logistics
  • Data analysis and modeling

Operations and Production Management Success with an Online MBA

Seattle University’s Online MBA program instills the expertise you need to excel in production and operations management. Our rigorous curriculum and experienced faculty will help you identify, understand, and solve emerging business challenges, all with a layer of empathy and collaborative ethos that you won’t find anywhere else. Our user-friendly online platform gives you access—from anywhere—to the course content and faculty support for which the Albers School of Business and Economics is known.

Review our application requirements to get started, or connect with an Admissions Advisor to talk through the details.

  1. Retrieved on March 8, 2022, from smallbusiness.chron.com/role-operations-manager-14234.html
  2. Retrieved on March 8, 2022, from mygreatlearning.com/blog/mba-the-golden-ticket-to-a-career-in-operations-management
  3. Retrieved on March 8, 2022, from keydifferences.com/difference-between-production-and-operations-management.html