Strategic management involves guiding businesses to survive against the competition and adapt rapidly to changes in business conditions. Bachelor of commerce and management of business administration degrees usually offer strategic management among their options. Career choices include working as analysts advising companies on how to improve business processes; as sales and marketing managers driving sales growth; as executives managing business units and companies; and as entrepreneurs running their own businesses.
Technology, globalization and changing customer preferences have made businesses more complex. Management analysts can guide businesses in making the strategic decisions necessary to navigate these challenges and uncertainties. Often referred to as business analysts or management consultants, they analyze existing business processes and advise firms on how to improve efficiencies and drive profits. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), management analysts held about 747,000 jobs in 2008, about 26 percent of whom were self-employed. The BLS expected employment to grow by 24 percent from 2008 to 2018, faster than the average for all other occupations.
The advertising, marketing, public relations and sales functions coordinate market research, strategic product positioning and pricing, advertising design, and media ad placements. Sales and marketing management involves analyzing a company's strengths and weaknesses, and evaluating its competitive threats and opportunities to develop appropriate strategic responses. According to BLS, advertising, marketing, public relations and sales managers held about 624,000 jobs in 2008. Their overall employment was expected to increase by 13 percent from 2008 to 2018.
Some executives are in charge of functional departments, such as human resources and sales, while others are in charge of product groups and projects. Senior executives, like chief executive officers and presidents, run business units and companies. Executives generally set the strategic direction of the departments and businesses they manage. This involves setting financial goals for managers and team leaders, scanning the competitive environment for possible merger and acquisition opportunities, and communicating with employees, suppliers, vendors and investors. Executives held about 2.1 million jobs in 2008, according to BLS.
Starting a new company, whether it is a home-based consultancy or a franchise, is a risky but potentially rewarding career path in strategic management. Start-up owners act as executives, product developers and sales managers because small businesses generally do not have the cash flow to staff separate departments. However, effective strategic management is critical to new business survival. This means controlling costs, aggressively marketing the products, and motivating employees to work long hours to meet business objectives.
Strategic management career options also exist in the government and nonprofit sectors. Instead of maximizing shareholder returns, the strategic objective usually involves delivering effective services within budget constraints. For nonprofit organizations, fund-raising is usually a strategic imperative because multiple agencies often compete for the same limited pool of donors.
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