How to Become a Chief Operating Officer: A Comprehensive Guide

Are you looking to become a Chief Operating Officer (COO)? If so, you’ve come to the right place. This comprehensive guide will provide you with all the information you need to know about becoming a COO. According to Windler, COOs must have a combination of education and work experience. To become a COO, you must have a business degree or a proven track record of building successful teams.

As the COO, you will be responsible for the day-to-day operations of the company. You can think of the position as something similar to that of a high-powered general manager. You will report directly to the CEO and play an integral role in leading the organization. The CEO develops strategies and sets objectives for the organization, while you will be the one to figure out how to make those plans a reality.

For example, if the CEO wants to expand the company by offering a new set of services, it will be your task to lead the discovery team to determine what departments, acquisitions, or investments the company will need to make. The COO is sometimes referred to as a chief operating officer, managing director, or “executive vice president of operations”. As the COO, you will be known as the one who gets things done. You will have contact with people in both small companies or startups and larger corporations.

In small companies or startups, you can establish relationships with all employees. In larger corporations, you may work primarily with department heads and other executives. Web interviews with current and former COOs indicate that 10 to 15 years of experience in a specific industry are needed (but not always in the same job). It is crucial that you have a very deep understanding of your industry in order to properly guide a company.

Think of Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's chief operating officer, who knew from the start that she wanted to get involved in a technology company. Therefore, if you are planning your path to becoming a COO, pay special attention to the industries that interest you and start from there. If you are already a project manager, you are in an excellent position to assume a COO position in the future. You will already have many of the skills you will use every day as a COO.

If this is the case for you, you should round out your skills with some solid business administration skills. An online MBA can give you exactly what you need to fill this knowledge pool. If your bachelor's degree is not already in business, do not worry! Some COOs hold titles that have nothing to do with business, such as technical degrees. However, if this is your case, consider developing your business knowledge as you prepare for becoming a COO.

Consider complementing your next steps in education with strategy or leadership courses. Advanced degrees are common in the boardroom, especially MBAs. Having an MBA can improve your chances of earning a higher salary and puts in your hands the skills needed to competently manage a company's operations. We highly recommend that you consider getting an MBA, especially if your bachelor's degree isn't already in business. An executive MBA can also set you apart from the competition by giving you both business knowledge and leadership skills needed for this position. Your ability to move up to Level C depends largely on who you know.

This is especially true with positions such as chief operating officer, where you'll be chosen based on how well your personality and specific skills complement those of the CEO. If you are thinking about improving your business skills (for example, getting an MBA), pay attention to what types of networking opportunities exist alongside your education. A developed professional network will prove to be tremendously valuable. Generally, an operations director must have at least 15 years of experience working for a company in the same industry across a wide range of businesses. They must also have a minimum of five years of experience working in a senior management position within the industry. Ideally, companies prefer to hire chief operating officers who have risen through the ranks within the organization, as this ensures that they know everything there is to know about the business. To be considered for a director of operations position, you need a combination of education and significant experience. If you believe you have the work experience and educational background for the position, read job descriptions of director of operations and highlight relevant work experience that may qualify you. Preparing your resume in this way can also reveal other areas where you may need to expand your experience before applying for chief operating officer positions. An operations director's salary varies depending on their area of specialization, level of experience, education, certifications, and other factors. The chief operating officer is accountable to the chief executive officer (CEO) and is among the corporation's highest-ranking employees.