Saturday, October 01, 2011

A Virtual Walk Through My Office

I get comfortable writing about things, and sometimes forget that the reader may not know me as well as I think. I've been writing from time to time about business and economics, but have not explored the ways different people in the same company might see the situation. Also, some folks have written me (thank you) about their MBA search, and it might be useful to consider the ways that degree can be used. Rather than try to cover a comprehensive spectrum, I'd like to walk you through my company's corporate office and 'visit' the different officers who make our business run.

We are a mid-sized multinational corporation, and a joint venture partner with a very large multinational. That means we operate autonomously, but with boundaries and of course we operate by our own written policies and procedures. Without considering everyone - we have about 60 people working at our corporate headquarters, which is also a warehouse from which we can ship product - the main roles at the top functional level are the General Manager, Operations Manager, various regional Sales Managers, our Warehouse Manager, our Defects Manager, Purchasing Manager, our Controller, Accounting Manager, Accounts Payable Manager, Remittance Manager, our HR Manager, and me, the Global Credit Manager. I'm going to cover these in a series of posts, but let's start with the General Manager.

Before our Joint Venture was finalized, we had a CEO, but when the JV went into effect the role changed gradually, and now we have a General Manager, roughly equivalent to a Division Vice President in authority at the parent corporation. The GM is responsible for everything our comnpany does, and signs off on everything from budgets and projections to the actual results. He gets instructions and approvals in general from the corporate headquarters, then uses the authority of his position as he sees fit. On the rough side, he is personally responsible for everything we do, but he also has broad authority within his boundaries to get the job done. He can, for example, go over budget to a degree, but he'd better not surprise the parent company. He has to get AFE's prepared and approved for capital expenses ahead of time, which is something I work on, but budgeted expenses are generally in his control. Our GM has an MBA from Harvard and a Bachelor's from Texas, and had about 15 years management experience in project sales and operations before taking on his current role. His normal hours are around 8 AM to 7 PM, except when a project is in the works, when he may work later. The hours are misleading, though, since he has to be available by email/phone pretty much 24/7. The GM role is high-level, which means he has to be aware of performance vs projections, understand deadlines and assign/delegate tasks as needed to meet them. He has to be VERY tactful and able to work with sometimes conflicting requirements, and to meet with major customers whenever appropriate.

(to be continued)