Careers rarely develop the way we plan them. Our career path often takes many twists and turns, with particular events, choices and people influencing our direction.

We asked James Stewart from Smart Futures to give some advice for people considering this job:


James Stewart

Science Communicator

Smart Futures

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  James Stewart
Get some experience even if it is voluntary work so that you have an idea if you like the sector and you will have something to talk about at interview.

Administrative people are interested in work that offers security and a sense of being part of a larger process. They may be at their best operating under supervisors who give clear guidelines, and performing routine tasks in a methodical and reliable way.

They tend to enjoy clerical and most forms of office work, where they perform essential administrative duties. They often form the backbone of large and small organisations alike. They may enjoy being in charge of office filing systems, and using computers and other office equipment to keep things running smoothly. They usually like routine work hours and prefer comfortable indoor workplaces.
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At a Glance... header image

Business Organisation & Business Management

All businesses have employees who work at different levels of responsibility, depending on their place in the structure of the business, or the way in which the business is 'organised'. In turn, there is no area of life where business skills are not needed, from budgetary control to business management, marketing, human resources, communications, sales and procurement.

Career options for those interested in world of business and management are also wide and varied. There are numerous roles in this sector from entry level, to highly-skilled Executive, Management and Specialist posts.

Business Management header image

Business Management

Management in simple terms means the act of getting people together to accomplish desired goals. Management is made up of planning, organising, resourcing, leading or directing, and controlling an organisation for the purpose of accomplishing a goal. A manager's job is to maintain control over the way a business or an organisation does things, while also leading, directing and inspiring their staff. A key managerial responsibility is 'resources'. This means finding the right people (Human Resource Management) or money (Financial resources), or whatever else is required to keep an organisation running. Other resources that a manager may be responsible for include:

  • Information Technology (IT)- ensuring effective IT systems are being used in the organisation
  • Materials - making sure materials are used productively and with minimum waste
  • Time - ensuring time is used efficiently across operations
  • Buildings, machinery and equipment - ensuring safety, appropriateness, maintenance and efficient use 

Managers have responsibility for the many services that allow organisations to operate efficiently. Specific duties for managers vary according to the degree of responsibility and authority they have.Business Management roles can be found in all of the following example areas:

  • Retail  -  supermarket or store manager
  • Manufacturing - production or personnel manager
  • Utilities   -  operations manager (electricity, gas and water supply)
  • Construction  -  project management
  • Distribution  -  distribution/logistics manager
  • Hotel & Catering -  hotel manager
  • Transport  -  ICT and business services manager

Managers can exist at different levels in an organisation:  Senior management is generally a team of individuals at the highest level of organisational management who have the day-to-day responsibilities of managing a big company or corporation. People with even greater levels of responsibility, such as a Board of Directors and those who own the company (shareholders), will focus on managing the senior management, rather than the day-to-day activities of the business.

Large organisations may have many managers: Managers in charge of different regions (Regional Managers); Managers in charge of different aspects of the business, for example they might manage a department (sales) or particular function (IT). These mid-level managers develop departmental plans, set goals and deadlines, implement procedures to improve productivity and customer service. Mid level managers may also be involved in the hiring or dismissal of employees (HR Managers). 

Getting into Business Management

Educational requirements for business organisation and management vary widely depending on the size and complexity of an organisation. In small companies a two-year Higher Certificate from a Third Level College would be desirable. Some work experience may also be required for positions in office management. In larger organisations where specialist management roles are performed, higher business and management qualifications are usually looked for, such as level 7/8 Degrees.

Employers typically seek job applicants with commercial awareness for management positions. Business studies graduates should have the edge here because they develop specific skills: business analysis; marketing; research methods; sensitivity to organisational needs; and good quantitative skills during their studies. Those wishing to enter into HR should try to ensure that this topic is part of their degree programme.

Business graduates consistently have good prospects across the industry sectors in the areas of business services, legal services, the regulatory environment, financial services, communications, social services, tourism, culture and marketing. 

Business Organisation

All businesses have employees, who work at different levels of responsibility, depending on their place in the structure of the business, or the way in which the business is 'organised'. The organisational structure indicates such things as: the method of leadership that the business uses; where the dividing lines are for responsibility; lines of communication; company policies; authority and chain of command; and the direction of information flow etc.

Business organisations commonly adopt either a Hierarchical organisational structure, or a Flat structure. 
Some may opt to follow a Matrix or Cluster model.

Hierarchical business organisations are like a pyramid - they have employees at many different levels, with a clear 'Chain of Command' in place:

Top Level:

Board of Directors; President; General Manager;

Chief Executive Officer (CEO); 


Finance Manager; Production Manager; HR Manager;

Sales & Marketing Manager; Operations Manager; 

Entry or Operational Level:

Senior Accountant; Assistant Accountant;

Area Sales Manager;

Production Supervisor; Team Leader;

Sales Staff; Production Operatives;

At the bottom, or lower end of the chain of command are Operatives, the staff who produce the products or services that the business offers. Operatives report to the next level e.g. Team leaders, who are responsible for day-to-day, hands-on management roles. Team Leaders in turn, report upwards to roles such as Operations Manager, who in turn reports to a General Manager.

The number of employees at each level of the hierarchical business structure depends on the size of the organisation. Opportunities for promotion up through the business may be from a department, to become an expert in a particular area or function, to then run a section and become part of the Management Team.

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Human Resource (HR) refers to the management of an organisation's most valued assets - the people working in the organisation who individually and collectively contribute to the achievement of the objectives of the business.

HR is one of the specialist management roles in any medium or large organisation. HR Managers usually require specific education and training in order to accomplish their tasks, and often achieve their roles after years of experience in business.
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