Director of operations job description (including salary)

Updated 1 August 2023

If you're interested in a rewarding and fast-paced career at the centre of a business, operations may be a good area for you. All businesses have an operational function, whatever their industry. Senior operations roles are challenging, broad and rewarding, and the field changes as new technologies, legislations and customer demands evolve. In this article, we define what a director of operations is and look at what you can expect to see in a director of operations job description, along with their salary, skills and how to become one.

What is a director of operations?

A director of operations is an individual charged with managing and delivering an effective, swift and compliant operations function within their hiring business. This role exists across most industries, and it can apply to anything from manufacturing to e-commerce. It's a vital role that lies at the centre of any business, whether it's a profit-making or non-profit entity.

Operations directors tend to have a typical working week, working Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. It's rare for operations directors to work flexible hours, but there may be certain times of the year when they work overtime to meet deadlines or submit reports. Most operations directors work full time, but it's not uncommon to find part-time positions at smaller companies.

Related: Operations management: definition and roles

Director of operations job description

There's no set director of operations job description as each position of this type is slightly different to suit the needs of the hiring business. Responsibilities may vary according to the sector, the size of the business and its stage within the organisational lifecycle. For example, an operations director within a startup might be responsible for putting a logistics infrastructure in place. Within an established firm, the role might focus on deriving greater efficiencies from existing operational systems.

These roles do tend to contain commonalities that you can expect to see across multiple industries. For example, the director of operations is responsible for every operational aspect of the organisation's strategy. They help set strategic goals while being responsible for providing timely operational data to the CEO and the board of directors. Ultimately, the operations director acts as the formal leader of all company operational activities to ensure that they can meet all business objectives effectively, efficiently and within the measures of the business plan.

The day-to-day activities of an operations director

Typically, an operations director carries out the following duties:

  • contributes to the business strategy within operational remit areas, including production, distribution and supply, purchasing and policies

  • oversees operations employees to ensure they're fully competent in their roles and motivated to perform consistently

  • devises and embeds policies and procedures that enable all core operations functions to achieve business objectives and targets

  • creates and controls all business line budgets to ensure costs remain under control

  • directs production to ensure that all finished goods or services fit the necessary standards, cost parameters and delivery targets

  • controls purchasing so that all raw materials and input resources for production meet time, quality and cost standards

  • directs or controls distribution and warehousing so that customers receive their orders on time

  • controls and directs the supply chain

  • takes responsibility for health and safety across all worksites

  • develops productive working relationships with other business directors to coordinate company activities in a way that supports overall objectives

  • gathers, analyses and disseminates all relevant operational data to aid decision making

  • acts as the organisation's internal lead and advisor for all operational function topics and stays up to date on the latest industry developments so that the company can remain competitive in the market

  • reports to the company board on relevant operational issues

  • employs operational management staff within the business and equivalent senior roles

Related: Operations manager interview questions and how to answer them

What does a director of operations typically earn?

The national average salary for a director of operations is £74,688 per year. This can vary according to the industry and the location of the role. The size of the business you work for is also a significant factor, as the director of operations is a senior role with varying responsibilities. For example, an operations director in a small startup is likely to make less money than an operations director in a large, established company.

Director of operations skills and qualifications

Although every job has its unique requirements, most directors of operations positions ask for comparable skills, experience, knowledge and attributes. These reflect the seniority and complexity of the role. For example, an operational director usually possesses:

  • a degree or relevant qualification and advanced level industry certifications

  • extensive experience in operations management or a closely aligned field, such as operations consultancy

  • knowledge of the different operational business functions and their principles of management, such as customer services, logistics and supply chains

  • advanced analytical skills to gather, assess and communicate performance metrics for all operational functions

  • in-depth knowledge of the company, its market, its operational framework and all relevant processes and products

  • superb organisational skills and proven leadership capabilities

  • advanced negotiating skills and equally good interpersonal skills

  • confident decision-making skills

  • advanced communication skills, both oral and written

  • attentive time management skills

In terms of personal attributes, an operations director is motivated to keep improving the functions of their business. This could be through:

  • embedding new technologies to improve efficiencies or to drive down costs without sacrificing quality

  • re-engineering processes to offer a better customer experience

  • seeking to attain a higher quality standard for the business in the form of accreditations or similar trust marks

  • building a stronger health and safety culture to reduce risks to the business and safeguard staff and premises

  • seeking to create a stronger and more empowering culture that encourages staff to take 'healthy' risks and to give discretionary effort in their work

  • developing new in-house training programmes that encourage employees to excel and progress within their own career paths.

Related: 14 essential operation manager skills

How to become a director of operations

A director of operations job is a senior position and a role with significant influence within the organisation. To successfully apply for these roles, it's essential that you can demonstrate an impressive track record within your career to date and show that you have the skills, ability, performance focus and drive to create real change within the business. There's no one set route into this career, but you may consider the following steps:

1. Obtain a relevant degree

A role as an operations director typically requires at least an undergraduate degree, but candidates for more competitive positions may wish to complement their skills with a more advanced qualification. This may include a postgraduate degree such as an MBA. Relevant subject areas for this role include operations management, business studies, economics and business administration.

Related: 35 head of operations interview questions (with answers)​​

2. Obtain professional certifications

The most relevant professional certifications for operations directors depend heavily on the industry they work in. These might include charterships or other awards given by specific industry bodies. If in doubt, you may want to consult any existing managers or directors for advice on the most relevant certifications.

3. Gain experience

Operations directors require extensive experience in a hands-on operational management role or equivalent consultancy experience. The most important part of an application for this role is likely to be a strong and proven track record. Ensure that you can provide evidence of strategic-level insight into your chosen industry and its operating framework. It also helps to understand the operations and culture of the specific company you're hoping to work for.

4. Develop skills

The most important interpersonal skills for this position include decision-making, time-management, leadership, organisation, negotiation and communication. Candidates may also show evidence of advanced analytical skills that allow them to work with complex data sets. This allows them to play a key role in making business decisions.

Related: The ultimate guide to management styles

How easy is it to get a job as a director of operations?

Most operations directors work towards this role by obtaining a series of more junior positions. This gives them the advantage of getting to know their business's function and its dimensions in a meaningful, comprehensive way. Some directors may begin on corporate graduate schemes straight from university. Others may join as an apprentice in a junior role and work up through the business. All candidates for this position are likely to have held a number of senior management roles in various fields, such as business administration or finance.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries‌ ‌may‌ ‌‌vary‌‌ ‌depending‌ ‌on‌ ‌the‌ ‌hiring‌ ‌organisation‌ ‌and‌ ‌a‌ ‌candidate's‌ ‌experience,‌ ‌academic‌ background‌ ‌and‌ ‌location.


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