Prof. Pramod K Gupta talks about the skill gap and the scope of a career in operations management
Prime Minister, Narendra Modi's Independence Day address to the nation has been hailed as unusual in more ways than one. Leaving behind the age old practice of using this ceremony for listing politico-economic priorities, Modi not only emphasised upon the need for vital socio-cultural reforms but also stressed on the need for exemplary growth in the production of goods and services. In case, India gains an entry into the league of developed nations in the next decade, this address would certainly be remembered for his clarion call to the nation for the need to “Make in India”.
Apart from several other imponderables, the growth story of India in the next decade would depend on how well managers in India adapt and fine-tune their operations in making and delivering their offerings to the global consumers. This underlines the emerging role and exponential importance of operations management in future. Operations management is a specialised area of management which concerns itself with creation and delivery of the products and services of a company. This is a challenging and vital function in all types of organisations ranging from manufacturing to retailing to services.
The efficiency and effectiveness of any organisation revolves around how well it manages its operations. Deft management of operations is all about getting the processes right and integration of organisational resources as well as with myriad supply chain management functions affecting the output. Operations managers are critical lynchpins responsible to get the product manufactured or the service offered in the most appropriate way thus, serving the interests of both the organisation and the customer.
Activities involved in the profession supplement all the other activities of an organisation. The research and development activity needs to be focused on developing a product that is the need of the customers and could garner enough market share. The finance function addresses the cost considerations and projects forecasts about the productions in terms of fixed cost, variable cost and overhead costs. The task to hire people with appropriate knowledge, skills and abilities to meet the organisation's objectives is the job of the human resources department. The operations department integrates all these functions and reconciles the varying requirements of the plethora of organisational functions in the provided budget by utilizing the best of the available resources in order to produce an offering that makes it easier for the marketing teams to target the desired market segment.
To become an operations manager, one needs a degree in the field he intends to work in, for instance a relevant degree in mechanical , electrical or electronics engineering for technical products or heavy engineering industry, degree in metallurgy for iron and steel industry or a degree in electronics or telecommunications for telecommunication industry etc. In order to work for MNCs as well as for quick progression in their careers, technical graduates are required to acquire enhanced qualifications in operations management. An MBA aspirant equipped with technical qualifications can pursue is operations management. Specialisation in operations management and its allied fields such as logistics and supply chain management has gained prominence in all business schools in India and abroad.
An average salary for a fresh graduate equipped with a degree in engineering ranges from Rs 3 to 5 lakhs per annum. On acquiring enhanced qualifications like MBA, operations managers with an experience of three to five years can draw an average salary of Rs 6 to 9 lakhs per annum.
The pool of operations managers in India is severely constrained due to enhanced economic activity witnessed during past two decades. The shortage of skilled manpower in critical sectors like manufacturing, warehousing, supply chain and logistics has also been recognised by the government. Due to this shortage at all levels, a professional with requisite skill sets has many options across the spectrum of industries from infrastructure to retailing to services. With quantum increase expected in the manufacturing sector, the options would only increase for the professionals in this field.
— The author is professor, Asia-Pacific Institute of Management, New Delhi