A Day in the Life of an Operations Manager

operations manager

Frans Truter: Operations Manager

You usually just walk into a clothing store, choose what you want, and get going on your way again. Your grandparents have probably told you in great depths about how they used to have to make ALL of their clothes. From scratch. A thought that is totally incomprehensible to most of you.

But WHY is it incomprehensible to you? You simply walk into a clothing store and have a variety of clothing options. It’s no longer necessary to make clothes thanks to the people who work in factories and the machines people invented we no longer have to make our own clothes. We interviewed Frans Truter, an operations manager at a clothing factory. He makes sure the entire process runs smoothly – from the clothing’s manufacturing to its delivery and placement on the shelves of shops.

What does a typical working day involve? What are your day-to-day activities?

Time of Day Activity Comments
06:00 Wake up and get ready for work. No time for breakfast
06:30 Leave for work while enjoying a cup of coffee (yes, while driving)
07:15 Clock in and greet office personnel. A must, don’t want any grudges against me.
07:25 Set up a quick Gantt Chart for production line. This makes it easier for people to visualise how far they are and how far they still need to go before completing the order.
07:30 Go to production floor, do roll call at my section and make sure that my production line is balanced. Make sure everyone is in the right place.
08:25 Take hourly capacity To know how many garments has been produced. It’s done every hour so just assume what I’m doing every hour from now onwards.
09:00 Make sure production line is tidy and neat. Compile each operators efficiency. Insert all the latest data into the computer, to keep a record Keeping the line organised. Go motivate the production line where needed.
10:30 Tea time: reply to all my whatsapp messages while having a yogurt and a cup of coffee Should probably call it coffee time, since I never have tea.
11:30 Identify each operator’s daily target and make sure they do the operations properly. If the person working at the certain operation is not doing their job properly, the whole line will not be meeting the line target.
12:15 Time all operators with a stopwatch to determine if they are doing each operation fast enough in order to reach their target. This is essential to know each operator’s time for that specific operation. This can tell you if they are struggling or coping.
15:30 Then for the last time during the day go and take the hourly production of each operator. Now I will add up all the garments produced to see whether we have met the daily target.
15:45 Write a daily report explaining the problems we had on the production line, how we tend to solve it. This report must be done before 16:15 and be on the desk of the COO’s before I leave work. (Normally I email it)
16:30 Lock up office and go home. Takes about an hour to drive home because of the traffic.


What do you enjoy most about your job?

The thing I really enjoy about my job is that every day has its own set of problems. It’s like walking into a new job every single day. Getting to solve problems on a regular basis… every problem is unique, so you don’t get bored.  

What do you enjoy least about your job?

The working hours. There are days where you are really pressed for time and need to get things done, and normally you will be required to work over-time. Sometimes the nights can get long. So getting a good night’s rest is very rare.     

What exactly is the role of an Operations Manager?

The major objective is to make a company more effective and efficient with less effort and money.

Is there a qualification required to perform this job? Where and what did you study?

Yes there is. I studied at CPUT Bellville to obtain a National Diploma in Operations Management. The qualification duration is 3 years full-time, but the course is also available for part-time studies. At a later stage you can do your BTECH in Operations Management through UNISA, or the  Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU). CPUT is currently not able to accommodate BTECH operations students. 

Is there any training provided by the organization once you come on board?

Yes, the company has offered some leadership skills workshops to help develop leaders within the company.

What type of person would be well suited to this job?

Any person that can think outside the box, is able to manage time correctly (crucial), is a people’s person, and last but not least, is a leader (people will look up to you, and you as the operational manager need to lead by example). To become an operations manager, you must have a passion for business and be open minded. You as an operational manager should be able to visualise the outcomes and consequences for each move you make and take on full responsibility of the consequences.

How long have you been in this position and how did you get there?

I’ve been working for the manufacturer company for about four months now and got the job through my university contacts that knew people (they were really helpful).

Do you have any additional advice for someone interested in pursuing this career?

Read a lot of business-orientated books. Start your research with Henry Ford (person behind Ford Motors) by reading how he revolutionised the production line. Henry Ford is one of the many founding fathers of Operations Management. If you have what it takes to change and improve an organisation, then I would recommend you go study Operations Management.

What is the earning potential of this career?

Junior position (0-2 years’ experience):  ±R250,000.00 CTC per Annum

Skilled Position (2-5 years’ experience): CTC ±R300,000.00 CTC per Annum

Senior Position (5-10 years’ experience): ±R800,000.00 CTC per Annum 

Executive Position (10 years or more experience): ±R1,200,000.00 CTC per Annum

You can work in the private or public sector, this will also determine the outcome of your salary.

Do you have some quirky advice for our readers?

Bear in mind, you will never walk straight from university into a company expecting to become the COO straight away.

As you have just heard, a lot of responsibility comes with the title. The people above you expect you to make sure everything runs smoothly and perfectly and that all hiccups are handled quietly and without any expense or loss to the company.

This is why Frans jokes that, “being OCD (partly) will count in your favour.” It will ensure that you naturally make sure things are perfect and that anything less than perfect must be fixed ASAP. Of course being too OCD would mean that nothing ever gets done. So make sure you like perfection, just not too much.

EduConnect 2cents

An Operations Manager has a lot of responsibility and a simple mistake could lead to chaos. Every day brings different problems and situations so you can be assured that things will not be the same.

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