Focus on Management
What jobs are out there, how much they pay and what you can expect to find in the management profession
Think you've got what it takes to inspire employees, make decisions that could make or break companies and organise myriad different tasks all at once?
If your answer is yes, then this story is for you. FM Campus has investigated the ins and outs of the management profession to help you decide if being the boss one day is your cup of tea.
People who can make good decisions quickly, present detailed and convincing reports, analyse problems and lead a team make good management material. And skilled managers are in high demand in SA. With the right credentials, management professionals are some of the highest paid people in the world.
Several benefits attend a career in management. One advantage is that it' s portable. 'You don't need to pass a specialised exam to be able to work overseas in management, as opposed to professions such as accounting and law,' says Christof Boshoff, chairman of the department of business management at the University of Stellenbosch. 'A basic degree in management qualifies you to work anywhere in the world.'
How much can you expect to earn
And then there's the advantage of being in such a broad field. The list of potential careers in management is vast, since every industry and profession requires managers. This means that there are all kinds of jobs out there in spheres as diverse as mining, telecomunications, education and many others.
The retail and wholesale sector employs the most people in SA, according to the latest Stats SA labour force survey, so there are lots of low-level management jobs available in this sector. The social and personal services sector employs the next most people, followed by manufacturing and finance. All of these sectors need managers.
Another advantage of going into management is that you eventually earn a significant pay cheque. But be aware that there is a wide range of remuneration for managers - not all managerial positions are equally well paid. The most highly paid careers in management are usually the financial ones.
'Many non-finance students tend to avoid subjects where they are confronted with numbers, formulas and calculations,' says Boshoff, who is also on the board of the SA Institute of Management Scientists and editor of the SAIMS journal. 'But my advice is to do a few of those quantitative subjects because they give you a competitive advantage over others.'
A top finance and administration manager in Gauteng can expect to earn about R250 000 to R300 000 per year, according to local recruiting firm Recruitment Direct.
But don't expect to be earning big bucks from day one. 'The industry standard for a basic BCom graduate degree ranges from about R8 000 to R12 000 gross,' says Chris Grayson, head of Recruitment Direct.
Graduates going into special learnership or internship programmes might earn less (something like R4 000 to R6 500), but they often get benefits, such as discounts on cars or laptops, and interest-free loans.
There are many different streams you could be studying with the ultimate goal of going into management. You may be studying toward a bachelor of commerce degree, specialising in management, for example. That will give you an excellent background in financial management, including investment, personal finance and risk management services.
With such a degree, you can become an investment manager, personal financial services consultant, financial risk manager or an enterprise risk manager.
A BCom in general management, on the other hand, is broader and allows you to become a general manager, operations manager, human resources manager, labour relations manager or a production manager.
Becoming a manager usually isn't something you'll do right after graduation, even if you're planning to go into management.
First, you'll need to decide what industry you are interested in, then get an entry-level job and work your way up into management in that field.
After finishing a management degree, most students end up getting jobs through specialised agencies and internship programs that place them in large corporations such as Procter & Gamble, Unilever, and so on.
But you can also choose to specialise by doing postgraduate studies. 'It can be beneficial to get a job and start working your way up right after graduation, but it's specific to one area are only,' Boshoff says. You're likely to learn about just one area of an industry. Boshoff recommends considering doing honours before venturing into the job market.
When you have some experience, you can consider studying for a master of business administration (MBA), a globally recognised degree for managers, or a masters of business leadership (MBL), offered at Unisa.
'The MBL and MBA open doors both in the private and public sectors,' says Krishna Govender, academic director at Unisa's Graduate School of Leadership. 'They definitely give someone in a management position an edge. Depending on the quality of the candidate, organisations are willing to pay substantial packages.'
If big money is what you're after, a postgrad degree can put you in a higher salary bracket.
'You'll be looking at about R12 000 to R15 000 a month gross or higher,' says Grayson at Recruitment Direct. That's if you have at least two or three years of experience in the industry.
But for those who don't intend to do postgrad study, there's always a demand for management graduates.
'It's not only the large corporates - medium-sized companies also offer many young managers opportunities,' Grayson says.
Boshoff agrees. In smaller and medium-sized companies you quickly get exposed to a far broader range of managerial issues than you would in a large company, he says, so there are definite advantages to going this route.
Finally, it's a good idea to join a management society as soon as you can. They provide their members with information on the trends, developments and accepted practices within the profession.
The Institute of Management Consultants for South Africa (IMCSA) is one such association. IMCSA is the professional body that represents the management consulting profession. It sets and maintains standards for the profession in southern Africa and is consistent with internationally accepted standards. (See www.imcsa.org.za for more information.)
Another association is the South African Institute of Management Scientists (SAIMS). It is mainly academic-oriented, and aims to promote the interests of management scientists in southern Africa by creating and developing a forum for discussion of appropriate management education and research. (See www.saibw.co.za for more information.)
This article was originally published in FM Campus. It is reprinted in FirstStep, courtesy of FM Campus.