The typical corporation is a large company with operations in several countries.
A career in corporate management can take various avenues- the three main functions where future CEOs develop their core skills are operations, commercial and finance- and usually they also gain experience in other functions.
Working hours are usually more reasonable than in other careers such as investment banking and consulting, with the average week being between 40-60 hours. The competition for advancement is variable, compensation is reasonably high (usually higher than in equivalent roles in smaller companies), and the work is often fairly routine with (more or less) frequent project assignments.
Managing teams of people is a core aspect of a corporate career. Those aiming at the top of the corporate ladder will need to factor in relatively frequent changes in function, role and possible assignments in foreign countries; they will need to manage increasingly large teams, budgets and P&L.
Many people are drawn to a corporate career for the learning opportunities. These include structured formal training programs, on-the job training, rotational programs. Additonal magnets are dealing with a diverse workforce and the perks.
A large company provides lots of opportunities to demonstrate team play, diplomacy and political skills. People appreciate the work-life balance that comes with being in a system that needs to plan on a large scale- although this is less so when getting to the top of the ladder. They also enjoy the opportunity to live for a number of years in different countries. Typically people in a corporate career are also lured by the opportunity to get things done and see the results of longer term plans.
Relatively high salaries at all levels; benefits also from lower levels
Exposure to many different roles and functions, with real responsibilities- for managing people, delivering turnover, managing budgets
Great learning opportunities, both on the job and through formal trainings.
Exposure to many different clients
Visibility from outside, results are easily spotted
It is a career where if you are interested in people and business, in playing an important social role you can find your place and get the right level of satisfaction
The personality of someone suited to work in a large Corporate typically has a majority of the following character traits:
The corporate career path attracts people who:
Like to be part of a large organization and like the structure, order and discipline that it entails
Appreciate the greater stability of a sizable organization as well as the relative “safety net” that it typically carries compared to other business careers like Investment Banking, Management Consulting or Private Equity
Seek multiple career paths and a variety of assignments along a multiyear career (within or outside a specific functional area/department)
Are comfortable with a relatively slower pace and lower risk/reward parameters compared to other careers
An area sales manager typically manages sales force within its defined regional territory. He/she is responsible for overseeing sales operations, meeting targets and managing the sales team in the region. Primary job responsibilities of an area sales manager would include:
The operations manager role is mainly to implement the right processes and practices across the organization. It is also to supervise, manage and ensure the delivery of goods or services, despite unexpected issues and obstacles. The specific duties of an operations manager include formulating strategy, improving performance, procuring material and securing compliance.
The role of a Corporate Finance Manager is to maximise bottom line opportunities for a business. Corporate Finance Managers are responsible for identifying and securing M&A deals, managing and investing large monetary funds, and buying and selling financial products, as well as securing that the company has the financial means and controlling structure to deliver the expected financial results and earnings. An important aspect of the role is also to comply with all administrative tasks, issue quaryterly, half year and yearly results as well as managing accounting and taxation matters.
Human resources managers plan, direct, and coordinate the administrative functions of an organization. They oversee the recruiting, interviewing, and hiring of new staff; consult with top executives on strategic planning; and serve as a link between an organization’s management and its employees. They advise managers on organizational policies (such as equal employment opportunity and sexual harassment)and handle staffing issues (such as mediating disputes and directing disciplinary procedures).
Contribute to fullfill a functional task with defined responsibilites
Perform the functional tasks assigned in liaison/coordination with the other contributors according to Company organisation and processes. If senior, then often mentor/coordinate junior contirbutors.
Manage individual contributors
Ensure that his/her team achieves the goals of the functional role, managing people that could be geographically spread. Coordinate with the other managers according to Company organization and processes. Often define and implement goals/strategy for own team inside a broader strategic frame.
Ensure that his/her teams do achieve the goals of their functional roles, managing teams that could be geographically spread and possibly encompassing more functional families. Coordinate with the other managers according to Company organisation and processes. Define and implement goals/strategy for own team inside a broader strategic frame. Can manage teams from a single function or start to be more generalist, managing more functions.
Lead the consultants’ team: plan their work, supervise work quality.
Manage for the whole company a function or a large Business Unit and be part of the Executive Committee
The most senior functional role in an organisation (reports directly to CEO). Gives the strategic and operational functional inputs. Ensures that the functional country teams do achieve their goals, manages teams that are geographically spread. Coordinate with the other functional SVP and regional managers according to Company organisation and processes. Contributes to the overall strategy and management of the Company. In many organizations is in charge/supervises also Regions. In publicly traded companies, SVPs are the pool from which Named Executive Officers get selected (in based of the highest level of compensation) and their comp data is made public. Some of them work with different Board Committees
Manage the Company/Group
The most senior role in an organization (AKA Chief Decision Maker). Gives the strategic and operational inputs, having the ultimate responsibility for the company. Works both with the Board and the company organization. Relates with external stakeholders (authorities, markets, investors, shareholders…) Ensures that the functional and regional teams do achieve their goals, manages teams that are geographically spread. Manages the Executive Committee, defines and implements the senior management policies.
On average, a corporate career carries a better work life balance than others. Back office functions (Finance, Legal, HR, IT, R&D…) require far less travel than sales, technical service or (sometimes) operations but, even then, we are far away from the 80-100 hours/week schedule of Investment Banking or Management Consulting. Conversely, work environments tend to be less dynamic and frenzy (the extreme opposite of a startup). While more formal than startups, the Corporate world has relaxed a bit more as of recent and dress code and etiquette are far less rigid than in the past. Off course this changes by country/location as well as corporate character and culture.