How To Become a Chief Production Officer in 4 Steps

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published October 26, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

The potential of an organization stands on the qualifications and abilities of its executive office. These executive officers are responsible for various branches within the company, including the production departments of an organization. You may benefit from learning about this manufacturing executive position if you have a background in production and are seeking career advancement. In this article, we discuss the role of a chief production officer, including their responsibilities and skills, and explore how to become a chief production officer.

Related: Guide To Understanding Product Development

What is a chief production officer?

A chief production officer (CPO) is an executive who's responsible for the product organization and manufacturing processes of a company. This means they often manage the product approach, design, development and marketing aspect of the production process. They may also engage in project management and evaluating product reviews post production. CPOs lead other product management teams to build products while maintaining efficiency. They also oversee other department heads, such as the directors of product management, user experience (UX) and product analytics. CPOs may have various job titles, such as:

  • Vice President of Product

  • Head of Product or Head of Product Management

  • Director of Product Management

  • Director of Product Strategy

  • Product Design Vice President

  • Chief Manufacturing Officer

What does a chief production officer do?

Here's a list of job duties a chief production officer may perform:

  • Directing and mentoring product management teams

  • Recruiting production or manufacturing employees

  • Creating business strategies and timelines for completing project goals

  • Collaborating with chief operations officers

  • Leading product development processes

  • Researching and analyzing market trends

  • Providing guidance for marketing strategies

  • Developing and maintaining business relations

  • Assigning responsibilities throughout the company

  • Visiting manufacturing facilities to ensure employees follow safety, health and quality standards

Related: Q&A: Why Is Leadership Important In Organizations?

How to become a chief production officer

Here's a list of steps to help you prepare for becoming a chief production officer in your organization:

1. Earn a bachelor's degree

Gain a foundational education by earning a bachelor's degree in business or other degree related to manufacturing, as all chief production officer positions require a bachelor's degree at minimum. Other applicable degrees could be economics, product management, marketing, engineering or information technology. Or, you could choose one of these associated disciplines as a concentration or minor, such as a business management degree with a minor in product management. Your major and minor can help develop knowledge and skills applicable to experience in business and a future executive production position.

2. Enter a production-related position

After you receive your degree, enter a production or manufacturing position to gain experience in the field. Even if you change companies for a new position, you may want to remain in manufacturing to increase your industry knowledge. It can benefit you to establish this career progression through an advancement of roles, as this can demonstrate your comprehensive qualifications.

Accept any position that allows you to practice management skills. A CPO career path may include first entering an associate product management position, then product manager, senior product manager and finally director of product. Gaining adequate work experience may take five to 10 years.

3. Pursue a master's degree in business administration (MBA)

Consider gaining an MBA degree, as it can prepare you for networking, making important business decisions and leading an organization. Coursework for a master's in business administration may include accounting, business strategy, economics and product management. Some universities offer traditional MBA degrees, in which you commute to a physical campus. Or, you can choose to earn an MBA online, as this offers flexibility for professionals working full time.

Most chief production officers earn an MBA before entering their executive position. Although it isn't required, this degree may better prepare you for achieving an executive position. Some people choose to pursue their master's immediately after completing an undergraduate degree, while others prefer to gain work experience before going back to school.

Read more: How To Decide Between an MBA vs. Executive MBA

4. Consider additional growth opportunities

After earning an MBA, it's helpful to gain additional work experience in senior management or production roles. The added experience in leadership roles or increased production responsibilities strengthens your qualifications. Take time to update your resume by highlighting new educational and experiential qualifications. Start or continue networking with other professionals, because they may have information about open CPO positions. Also, you may choose to attend leadership conferences, workshops and hiring events.

Manufacturing professionals typically wait until they have at least 10 years of experience working in an industry-related position before applying for a chief production officer position. You may wait less time to apply for a position if you're confident in your leadership abilities and industry knowledge. Research educational, skill and experience requirements for each CPO position before applying for the role, as requirements may vary between companies. Experience requirements often include knowledge of product marketing, management, project manager software and methodologies.

Related: The Benefits of Networking: 14 Reasons To Start Your Network

Chief production officer skills

A chief production officer position requires many skills related to attention to detail and collaboration. Here's a list of the main skill requirements for a CPO and explanations for why they're important to the job:

  • Persuasion: CPOs often persuade their employees, product users and executive partners to meet or be met by company or product needs. They may also use persuasion to inspire innovation within the manufacturing department so the company can undertake new projects or product designs.

  • Decision-making: Because CPOs direct production, they make important decisions regarding the company's direction, product design, manufacturing, leadership, research and marketing.

  • Leadership: Chief production officers oversee and collaborate with many departments, executives and other businesses. Leadership skills can ensure that these relationships continue constructively through guidance and direction.

  • Communication: CPOs use communication skills to ensure that all employees, departments and manufacturers receive and convey important information. This helps the company operate smoothly throughout the production process.

  • Customer engagement: Chief production officers ask for and receive feedback from consumers so the company may note reactions to a product and make alterations or increase production. These skills may also maintain positive customer experiences and customer retention.

  • Analysis: CPOs usually analyze multiple aspects of the production process to ensure manufacturing efficiency. They also analyze products for improvements and evaluate market trends to suggest future company actions.

  • Marketing: CPOs usually use marketing skills to advertise new products to consumers, stakeholders and even other executives. They may also provide marketing strategies for future product releases.

Related:4 Tips To Improve Your Executive Skills at Work

Chief production officer work environments

Chief production officers work in almost every industry in both small and large organizations, but most CPOs work in the manufacturing, sales and business development industries. Other example industries include health care, construction and technology. Their physical work environments often include office buildings and manufacturing facilities. They work full time, often more than a 40-hour workweek, including evening and weekends.

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