The Director of Operations (DOO) or head of operations needs its own unique job description outlining the central tenets of the role and its defining features. This article provides employers with the guidance they need to design a successful director of operations recruitment process. In addition, it helps candidates looking for head of operations or director of operations roles to tailor their applications and career plans.

Within this guide, you will learn about what should be included in the director of operations job description, including relevant skills, qualifications and responsibilities.

Duties and responsibilities of a director of operations

It is the responsibility of the director of operations to oversee and coordinate the daily activities of the business. They are the lynchpin in the everyday running of the business. As part of this, the head of operations needs to manage resources in the moment, while also strategically improving and developing operational plans to improve efficiencies and productivity in the future.

As part of their role, the director of operations is often integral to the hiring and succession process of key players in the business. They are often the central communication channel between different departmental heads, especially in relation to compliance. They work in conjunction with these departments to develop and refine financial plans.

The role of the head of operations, or director of operations, can vary notably from one organisation to another. The larger the business is, the more complex and senior the role. In smaller businesses, the role may include broader elements.

Duties and responsibilities include:

  • Collaborate with strategy formulation, specifically covering production, purchase, distribution and supply chain.
  • Hire and manage operations staff.
  • Understand business goals and design appropriate policies and procedures to help the business meet its objectives.
  • Set, oversee and manage operational budgets.
  • Oversee compliance and standards, ensuring production is safe, reliable and delivers within deadline and to budget.
  • Responsibility for purchasing for production in line with budgets and standards.
  • Manage and organise warehousing and distribution functions meeting the expectations of customers.
  • Oversee and manage supply chain operations.
  • Overall responsibility for developing and maintaining required health and safety policies and procedures.
  • Communicate effectively with other directors and coordinate their activities.
  • Evaluate and analyse operational performance.
  • Advise other company leaders on operational concerns and knowledge.

Director of operations qualifications and skills

When hiring a head of operations, you need to look for an experienced and qualified candidate with a very broad set of skills, all demonstrated at a high level. There should be evidence in place that the individual can manage complex and demanding situations on a daily basis while also working strategically to improve productivity, safety, efficiency and spending. Experience in the relevant industry is typically considered essential. The director of operations job description should cover all required experience, skills and qualifications.

Qualifications may include:

  • Bachelor’s degree.
  • Masters or further degree e.g. MBA.
  • Any relevant professional qualifications required for the specific role.
  • Experience managing large and varied teams, potentially across multiple locations.

Experience should include:

  • Broad operations management experience 7-10 years.
  • Industry or sector experience.
  • Experience working with different business departments, teams and functions e.g. customer service and supply chain.
  • Relevant business size experience – look at the size of the companies where experience has been gained as this can affect the role and the experienced gained significantly.
  • End-to-end project management experience.

Skills required:

  • Knowledge of the specific company or industry, especially its processes and products
  • Excellent communication skills (both written and verbal) with high-level negotiation skills
  • Business acumen and understanding of corporate objectives
  • Strategic and planning ability
  • Leadership and motivational capability
  • Skills managing and overseeing multiple functions under pressure
  • Budgetary insight and know-how
  • Analytical and evaluation skills, as well as reporting skills
  • Unrelenting time management skills
  • Advanced decision-making skills
  • Results-focused approach

Job description must-haves

The director of operations job description should always include the fundamental aspects relevant to the role. Typically, a contract for a head of operations will set a 9-5 working practice, but additional hours are typically expected at this level, according to the needs of the business.

The role’s location should be set. For the director of operations, this is usually at head office. However, it may be at the largest production site. Travel is often a feature of the job for directors of operations, as they will be required to travel between different sites.

Director of operations salaries

The role of a director of operations in a small single-site business is vastly different from the same role in a multi-national corporation in a complex industry. Salaries vary accordingly. Often, salaries are comfortably in excess of £100,000 per annum.

The head of operations role is usually highly incentivised with a tailored KPI-related bonus scheme. Individuals in these roles should be able to expect attractive benefits packages.

How to find your director of operations candidate or role

Recruiting a director of operations or head of operations is a notoriously difficult process, most likely because candidates can come forward with vastly different depths and breadths of experience despite a similar career pattern. Finding the right candidate that can successfully oversee and manage the operations of a business on a day-to-day basis can be complex. They must align with the objectives of the organisation and understand multiple facets of the industry and business.

In these situations, despite crafting an excellent director of operations job description, recruitment can be challenging and requires the skills of a headhunter. A headhunter will identify suitably experienced and qualified candidates by looking at the role they are already doing, and matching it to your organisation. Ideally, a headhunter that also accepts direct application from potential candidates, is the most ideal as you can cast the net wide but in a refined way.  

Discover more about how a headhunter can help you find your next director of operations.

Potential career paths

Directors of operations typically come from an operations management role in a larger or similarly sized organisation. Alternatively, they may already be the head of operations in a smaller organisation within the industry. Some directors of operations go on to become managing director or CEO.

Director of operations recruitment FAQs

How do we get the best director of operations?

For complex leadership roles, such as the head of operations, a headhunter will deliver the best recruitment strategy. They will identify passive candidates working effectively elsewhere and nurture relationships to bring them in line with your goals and objectives.

What qualities make a good director of operations?

Calm, organised individuals who are strategic thinkers make the best operations managers. They have strong analytical capability combined with outstanding communication skills. Individuals with deep level experience within the specific industry are best.

What should we look for when choosing a director of operations?

Use your director of operations job description to specify you’re looking for an experienced individual with excellent industry know-how. This should be coupled with evidence of their capability against your required duties and responsibilities.

How long does it take to fill the director of operations role?

It can be a complex process filling the director of operations role. These are senior and experienced candidates typically already working with a 3 month notice period. The best candidates will be sourced most effectively via a headhunter who can efficiently bring them on board.

Why do I need a director of operations job description?

The director of operations role varies enormously from one company to other. So that you can recruit the right candidate for your role, you need a director of operations job description to set out the specific parameters of the role and match this to candidates with the relevant experience, qualifications and skills.