Operation executives work in every industry, holding high-profile (and often high-paying) positions. They are responsible for the company's bottom line, developing strategies and setting policies, and making sure employees work as a team and morale stays high. Along with those things, operation executives often act as the "face" of the company, taking heat when things go wrong and receiving most of the credit when the company is successful. Mostly, though, they need to make sure it remains profitable, and even exceeds expectations.
Operation executives must possess outstanding leadership skills, communicating the company's needs and how employees should work to meet its goals. They should be confident, driven, organized, analytical, able to identify obstacles and find ways to overcome them. Most operation executives also need to be strong in areas such as marketing, accounting and technology, as they often use computers to track sales and manager finances.
The criteria to become an operation executive varies by industry, and even each individual company. Still, the majority are expected to have obtained at least a bachelor's degree, or even a master's or doctorate, in their chosen field. Along with that, many operation executives spend years working in their industry, first as lower level employees, then as managers, before being given the keys to a company.
Employment of operation executives is at the mercy of their industry and, of course, their performance. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for top executives are expected to experience little to no change during the 2008 to 2018 decade--compared to an 11 percent growth rate for all jobs during the same span.
Operation executives in most industries are among the highest earners in the country, with many making at close to or more than six figures in salary. According to the BLS, top executives earned a median salary of $91,570 per year in May 2008. Those in the computer system design industry were the highest earners, with a median salary of $133,140 per year.