How to Become a Strategy Manager (With Steps and Skills)
Updated August 16, 2023
Strategy managers develop strategies that help companies identify opportunities, improve their processes, and increase the success of their businesses. If you're interested in pursuing a career as a strategy manager, it might be helpful to learn more about this career to decide whether it suits your interests and skill set. In this article, we discuss how to become a strategy manager, explain what one is, and outline the basics of strategy management.
What is a strategy manager?
A strategy manager is a professional who helps companies improve their operations by identifying opportunities for growth and determining where company strategy is working and which areas need improvement. As a strategy manager, you might oversee one or multiple departments in the areas of policy implementation, resource allocation, and financial decision making. You often work with the management team and executives to develop plans that help organizations meet their long-term goals and objectives. Some of the common duties of strategy managers include:
Creating detailed plans for hiring, training, and development processes
Identifying challenges facing departments and working to correct weaknesses
Analyzing the effectiveness of current strategies
Recommending changes and updates to company policies
Developing strategies for risk mitigation
Overseeing new strategy implementation
Understanding company goals and objectives
A strategy manager is just one of the numerous job titles that perform a similar role. When searching for career opportunities, companies might not use the strategy manager title. Instead, you might see other closely related job roles, such as a corporate strategist, finance manager, operations manager, business development analyst, management consultant, or executive officer.
How to become a strategy manager
If you want to help companies improve their processes and make their businesses more successful, you might wonder how to become a strategy manager. Strategy managers focus on the development of business plans which consider the company's available resources, the organization's business objectives, the risks, and the stakeholder's input. Listed below are the steps you can take to become a strategy manager:
1. Earn your bachelor's degree
The first step to becoming a strategy manager is to obtain a bachelor's degree. There are a number of universities that offer specific programs in strategy management. You can also choose to earn your degree in a related field, such as economics, business administration, finance, or general management. Whatever you decide, it can be beneficial to take courses in the following subjects:
Human resource management
Financial decision making
Dynamic team development
Organizational behaviour analysis
2. Develop strategy management skills
To help with your career goals, there are some skills you can cultivate while studying. These include:
Communication: This is an essential skill for a strategy manager because you convey information about policy updates, optimization methods, and strategy implementation measures. You're also responsible for implementing process changes and communicating with the teams involved in the process.
Problem solving: As a strategy manager, your job includes solving and strategizing through numerous problems. Developing the right strategies to approach these challenges can help you in your career.
Analysis: Honing your ability to analyze problems is an important tool for a strategy manager. Since you help managers develop new policies and procedures, continuous analysis helps evaluate the effectiveness of the proposed solutions.
Leadership: Strategy managers often lead teams through policy changes. That's why it's important that they also possess strong leadership skills.
3. Gain work experience
Many graduates find a job where they can gain some experience. This can help you develop your skills and allow you to implement strategies on a smaller scale before you perform the same functions for larger organizations. You can take this step prior to pursuing further education for a master's degree. This step is optional, and some people may choose to go straight into furthering their education before applying for a job.
4. Earn your master's degree
Those who wish to progress further in their careers often pursue a Master of Business Administration, also known as an MBA. The skills and knowledge you learn here can make you a better strategy manager because courses focus on the broader economic landscape and can help you see the long-term consequences of certain strategy implementations. MBA program admission can be very competitive, but completing this degree can mean the potential to work in executive positions and earn a higher salary.
5. Apply for professional certifications
Though it isn't a requirement, you might choose to get a professional certification, which can lead to new opportunities and demonstrate that you're a leader in your field. The Canadian College for Leadership and Management offers one known as the Certified Strategy Professional. You can also consider reviewing job postings to see if open positions ask for any certifications. This can help you identify which courses are most in-demand and which ones you might want to pursue.
6. Update your resume
Update your resume to reflect your current education, work experience, skills, and certifications. This is where having work experience can be beneficial, since it can make you more attractive than other candidates. Ensure your resume includes any strategies you've implemented in the past and their outcomes to show potential employers what you're capable of and how you can influence their own operations in a positive way.
7. Apply for the role of a strategy manager
Look for companies that you think could benefit from your unique skills and experience. Be sure to tailor your resume for every position, highlighting the qualifications you have that the company is looking for. Before you go to the interview, prepare some examples of how you helped other companies achieve their goals.
8. Achieve experience and ongoing knowledge
To stay informed on the latest developments in strategy management, you may also choose to take additional courses and do some reading. This experience and knowledge can lead to even more job offers and opportunities for professional advancement.
How to implement strategy management
Strategy management is the process of developing business plans that account for a business's resources, objectives, and long-term goals. Strategy managers can follow these steps when implementing strategic management principles:
1. Identify objectives
The first step is to outline the organization's objectives. Managers consider factors like stakeholder desires, market trends, and competitor operations. By looking at all the components of a company's strengths and weaknesses, you can help develop effective strategies that improve operations and maximize success.
2. Develop policy
Always keeping the company's goals in mind, strategy managers design policies and create plans to help achieve those goals. These policies might help the company become more competitive. Policies might also help distribute resources more effectively or improve processes that aren't working as efficiently as they could. Strategies can apply to both short and long-term goals and consider shifts in the economic landscape and the changing priorities of the company over time.
3. Allocate resources
Once you've designed the policies to help the company achieve its goals, your next task is to allocate the resources needed to implement them. This means assigning personnel to specific tasks, depending on the desired outcomes. This is a key part of ensuring success, as you can't implement the strategies without the right people to execute them.
4. Revise strategies
Another major part of strategy management is the continuous process of revisiting, assessing, and revising strategies to ensure they're working in the most efficient way possible. If a company finds the proposed strategy isn't working, then you might adapt the existing strategy or create a new one to address the shortfall. Part of your job as a strategy manager is being adaptable and having the ability to analyze and look objectively at strategies to determine if they're serving the company satisfactorily.
Please note that none of the companies, institutions, or organizations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.
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