A Day in a Life of a Corporate Manager

What is a corporate manager? By corporate manager, we mean jobs such as an assistant manager, manager, senior manager, vice president and even c-level people (aka, the head honchos) of today’s large companies. When we see the title manager on someone’s name card, do we know what exactly do they do?

Let’s take Arvindra (not the real name), who is a manager in a company that imports and sells textile. As wholesalers, the company has only 2 outlets and the outlets are taken care by store managers.

Arvindra works in the corporate office, so he does not oversee customers. As a manager who is in charge of textile supply, his job is to ensure that the orders are made in time and inventory(the stock of textile) reports are ready and that both stores are well stocked. He also has to ensure that he has all the information of the latest textile types and designs to be presented during his monthly meetings with his boss.

Arvindra goes into the office at 8.40 a.m. The office hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with lunch break between 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. He drives and parks in the parking lot provided by the company. Not all companies provide parking facility, and most people have to be creative to find their daily parking spots in a typically congested town or city. In the office, the first thing Arvindra does is turn on his laptop, and get connected to the internet.

After getting everything ready (and maybe a quick browse of Facebook), he checks for any appointments such as meetings with suppliers, overseas calls or meetings with his team or his boss. Upon checking his schedule for the day (most people use their computers for this, for example, the Outlook Calendar feature can tell you all the meetings that are planned throughout the year), he commences work on his assignments.

The first assignment that is due that week is an order report he has to present to his boss. He has to create a report on his computer. For this he will be using an application that the company has installed on the computer, ie. Excel. He needs information for this work. He calls Arya and Anisha, the two staff reporting under him for the information. He has asked them to email the information last week. Arya and Anisha discuss with him the information they have and Arvindra asks for them to put all the information down in an Excel sheet and email it to him immediately.

Later, Arvindra compiles all that information, lists down a few points that need to be highlighted and creates the full report. Finally, he prints out a copy and keeps it on his desk.

During the rest of the morning, Arvindra gets a couple of calls from their suppliers who want to confirm a few shipment details and Arvindra asks his administrative assistant to check the accuracy of these details. An administrative assistant is an office assistant that helps with filing, taking calls for managers and bosses, keeping appointments and managing the office. Arvindra also calls one of the stores to enquire on the special inventory they have rolled out for Diwali, and whether the inventory is sufficient for customer orders.

It’s lunch time and most of the time, Arvindra goes out for a quick lunch with Arya and Anisha, and occasionally with his boss. They usually eat at the stalls behind the office or on some days, they drive to the Indian restaurant downtown.

At around 2 p.m, Arvindra joins his boss in a meeting where he presents the report. The presentation is done using a projector that shows all the information on the computer to a large screen on the wall. Arvindra answers his boss’s questions regarding the new prices quoted by a supplier from Egypt and they discuss whether they can negotiate better prices. The boss also highlights the fact that competitors are bringing new stock from Korea and if Arvindra can do some research on that. The boss asks Arvindra about Arya’s next upgrading, and Arvindra provides some feedback on Arya’s overall performance.

After the meeting, Arvindra takes a short tea-break in the office pantry, and gets back to his team to discuss if they can start the research work. Arvindra also asks Arya and Anisha to finish up on the 7 other orders that they need to email to suppliers in Japan.

Time is now 5 p.m. Does Arvindra go home now? No, not really. This is where the corporate culture of the company kicks in. If the boss wants you to stay as long as he does, then most managers will stay until 7 p.m. to wrap up other reports or simply, hang around. In some places, the bosses are open to managers doing their work from anywhere (these, by the way, are becoming trendier and more desirable now), and managers leave around 5.30 p.m. or 6 p.m. At 7 p.m., Arvindra leaves office and thank god, it is Friday, he will be off tomorrow and the day after.

Over the next few years, if the company grows fast, Arvindra will be promoted to higher managerial positions and will receive a lot more in salary and perks. Perks for managers extend to car allowances (around RM700 to RM2000), higher medical coverage, more annual leaves and paid parking, but this differs widely between one company to another. Bigger, more established companies are known for better benefits, nicer offices, better gadgets (such as laptops) and more learning and development programs such as training and even, paid MBAs. However, if the company grows very little and competition for jobs becomes stiffer, Arvindra might find more people vying for his job and he may have to work harder to keep his position. Corporate jobs, for one, are cyclical in nature and opportunities come and go, dictated by the overall economy and the company’s performance.

Summing up, a corporate manager’s job varies significantly from one sector to another, from one company to another and from one department to another. It hinges closely on the top leadership’s style, on the owners’ goals and the immediate bosses’ capabilities, aspirations and attitude. In the end, of course, it depends on you and how you manage your workload, keep your bosses happy and most importantly, whether you can continue to progress and grow in a particular environment.

So, are you cut out for a corporate manager’s job?

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