The operations management MBA specialization focuses on the underlying concepts behind the production and operations function of an organization. An operations management MBA program may include the following areas of study: design-related activities that form the function of a particular operation; the planning and control activities necessary to run the operation; and improving the way a particular operation performs its function.
Operations management is often an attractive specialization for MBA students interested in following management careers in engineering, manufacturing and logistics. Qi Annabelle Feng, associate professor of operations management at Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management states: “The majority of MBA students concentrated in operations management have an engineering background.” Krannert’s operations management graduates are hired to work in a number of industries including consulting, manufacturing, financial services, electronics, consumer products, and retail.
Professor Feng contends that “globalization, decentralization and intensified competition in today's business world" pose great challenges in terms of inter-firm and intra-firm coordination. These challenges require students to have a cross-functional view and apply a systematic approach. Professor Feng adds: “it is important to understand not only operations principles in different areas including procurement, manufacturing, inventory, logistics, distribution, etc., but also the interconnections of different parts in the supply chain.”
One of the key operations management skills employers are looking for is quantitative ability, which is becoming increasingly important as corporate IT systems become more sophisticated. Feng states: “Making decisions based on data analysis has become the norm. With the numerous data volume we are dealing with now and complexity of the business process, it is important to train our students in the ability to develop a comprehensive framework to analyze business process and support decision making.”
Krannert is number nine in this year’s operations management specialization table, maintaining its 2011 rank. In fact, the position of most of the schools in the top 10 has remained remarkably stable. The top four schools are all from the US, with MIT taking the top spot above Harvard and Wharton. The change in the top ten from last year is the addition of The Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, which takes the number ten spot at the expense of The Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon, which drops to 13th.
While US business schools lead the way for operations management, making up almost half of the MBA programs in the operations management specialization ranking, its impressive total of 24 out of 50 schools is three fewer than last year.