It’s hard to think of a business function that has had a more meteoric rise in the past couple of decades than business operations, or BizOps. While the idea of using data to make better decisions and drive business impact is far from new, having dedicated BizOps roles and teams is. Just 15 years ago, BizOps roles were only beginning to appear at leading tech companies — now, they can be found everywhere from 10-person startups to Fortune 500 organizations. And for good reason: tasked with cutting across traditional cross functional boundaries to help companies set strategy, improve performance and drive results, BizOps teams are able to have an outsized impact on the success of their organizations.
But BizOps doesn’t just present a tremendous opportunity for companies — it presents a tremendous opportunity for your career as well. Offering you the ability to shape company direction, collaborate with a wide variety of cross-functional stakeholders and gain a unique understanding into the drivers of business performance, BizOps can help prepare you for just about any role you might be interested in.
I recently chatted with a couple of my colleagues at Glassdoor to explore how working in BizOps had impacted their careers — read on below to hear about their journeys. (And if you like what they have to say, consider joining us: the Glassdoor BizOps team is hiring!)
BizOps as a Career Accelerator
One of the things that makes BizOps so unique is that you don’t need one particular background to succeed in it — in fact, having a team with diverse backgrounds will only help you come up with more innovative business solutions. Those who do thrive in BizOps tend to be “people with strong analytical curiosity and strategic thinking,” said André Keiser, a Manager of Business Operations here at Glassdoor. “It’s also important to collaborate and develop strong cross-functional relationships in order to help drive initiatives forward and execute.”
André came to us with a degree in Physics & Economics and prior work experience at a management consulting firm and a small Enterprise SaaS startup, where he worked on projects from customer success to data science, marketing, product management and more.
“Ultimately, I realized I love the combination of business strategy (my consulting days), analytics (my Physics background) and operational work (my many startup hats), creating a recipe for business operations,” André said. “I was especially drawn to Glassdoor’s Business Operations team, which maintains a strong functional alignment within the organization, deeply embedded in the teams they support.”
Today, André specializes in supporting our Self-Service business division.
“Our Self-Service business is fast-paced and quickly changing as we continue to improve the product, so we get immediate feedback in our metrics and directly from customers when we make any changes. I love coming in each day, diving into recent trends and partnering with cross-functional teams to drive incremental improvements which we can then monitor on a regular basis,” André said. “At the end of each month and quarter, it’s been remarkable to look back at our growth and determine what our next priorities should be. I also always continue to be impressed by my colleagues both within BizOps and across the company, from which I’m sure to learn something new each day.”
In the two years that André has been with us, BizOps has allowed him to work with executives, develop and present key business strategies and have a hands-on role in a number of different projects.
“I’ve had the opportunity to take on many growth opportunities ranging from developing our Growth Sales plan, working on our annual strategy review through our five-year strategy and now function as the Business Operations lead for our Self-Service Business unit,” André said. Through these projects, he’s “had regular exposure to our executive team and even the opportunity to present to our Board of Directors.”
While André’s tackled a number of different projects, the consistent theme throughout his tenure at Glassdoor has been growth.
“Glassdoor has provided me with exposure to a variety of company functions and challenges that a scaling business needs to solve. I’ve worked through new product updates, partnered with marketing to ramp digital and offline advertising, implemented pricing strategies, monitored key pilot projects and rethought our go-to-market strategy. These experiences have pushed me to further develop my analytical skills, strategic thinking and operational know-how, as I look to take on strategic leadership positions further in my career,” André shared.
And he’s certainly not alone in this regard — “my teammates have not only progressed upwards within BizOps as our team continues to grow, but many have made lateral career moves into leadership positions at the company in B2B Product and Marketing,” André added.
BizOps as a Gateway to Other Fields
Take, for example, Leah Karlins — a Product Manager at Glassdoor who started out on the BizOps team. Although she had a strong background in strategy and analysis coming out of her MBA program, working on Glassdoor’s BizOps team allowed her to apply that prior knowledge on a day-to-day basis.
“I literally learned nonstop during my first year on the team. I was initially given the challenge to turn around the financial performance of one of our products whose sales were slipping. This involved close partnership with stakeholders across Sales, Marketing, Product, Operations and many other teams to figure out what wasn’t working, and then identify and implement solutions. I made a ton of mistakes along the way, but really appreciated the crash course in how to grow a business line,” Leah said. “Midway through my first year, I was asked to take over our pricing function, which required building a new set of analytical skills and a deeper partnership with our sales leadership. And then several months later, I had the chance to help launch a new sales innovation initiative, which gave me the chance to practice longer-term strategic thinking and project management. Every time I began to feel like I had mastered something, I had a new opportunity to continue growing.”
After a while, however, Leah began to carve out her niche in product.
“Product was definitely an area that I was interested in, but frankly I didn’t have enough exposure to it prior to joining Glassdoor to know whether it would be a good fit for me. However, as I began partnering with our product team to explore growth opportunities for some of our employer products, I got really excited about the potential to innovate and improve our product suite in ways that would create unique value for both employers and job seekers,” Leah said. So, “after years of being an advisor and business partner, I decided I was ready to take a more active role in driving product decisions and working with engineering and design to build new products and features.”
After Glassdoor’s acquisition by Recruit last year, the company made an increased investment in product — so when leaders began to discuss building a dedicated team for the product Leah had long been focusing on, she saw an opportunity to transition into a more product-centric role.
“I started having conversations with mentors about what my long-term career path at Glassdoor might look like, and whether product management might be a future option for me. I ended up having a series of brainstorms with a couple of our product leaders about our product strategy and the vision for this new team, and those turned into an offer for me to join the team as PM,” Leah shared.
Although Leah has been thriving in her new role as a product manager, she still cites her background in BizOps as invaluable to her career.
“My time in BizOps gave me exceptional visibility into our overall company strategy and priorities, so I feel like I have a great sense of where we are headed as a business and how my particular product fits into that. I [also] had the opportunity to work closely with many of our go-to-market teams and get a ton of valuable feedback on our customer needs, sales positioning and areas for improvement, which directly informs my product roadmap,” Leah said. “And finally, I developed strong relationships with many incredibly talented folks on the BizOps team and beyond who I still rely on for both formal and informal advice and collaboration.”
The Bottom Line
Whether you’re hoping to climb up the company ladder or explore new fields altogether, the fundamentals that you learn to master through BizOps — data analysis, strategy development, cross-collaboration — will serve you in nearly any role. Add to that the exposure you get by working with both higher-ups and the soft skills you hone through project management and presenting, and you’re well-positioned to move into whatever job title or field that you’re interested in.
If you’re an intellectually curious, data-driven person with a knack for critical thinking, consider looking into BizOps — it might just be the perfect next step for your career.
This article was originally published on LinkedIn. It is reprinted with permission.