The DNA of the COO

DNA of the rapid-growth market COO

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COOs in rapid-growth markets who can combine the skills of managing growth and innovation with the ability to drive efficiency and change will find themselves in a very strong career position.

The economic prospects of slow-growth developed markets and newer rapid-growth markets have sharply diverged. This switch has significant implications for business priorities and for the COO.

“The requirements of the COO role are dependent on time, place and geographical area,” explains Tata International’s Business Head Leather Products, Arunotpal Thakur. “What is relevant for a COO in Western Europe might be different from what is important to a peer in South Asia.”

How is the role of the COO different in the two markets?

The differences between markets can be striking. COOs within developed markets often continue to face a challenging cost environment and limited organic growth potential. Executive teams are therefore closely focused on the bottom line.

By contrast, rapid-growth market executives face a very different set of challenges. With companies seeking to capture growth in markets where per capita incomes and budgets are rising rapidly, COOs here need to be more entrepreneurial and focused on gaining market share and scaling up capacity.

What are the attributes of a rapid-growth market COO?


Focus on scale and capacity, with an eye on efficiency

COOs in rapid-growth markets cannot ignore efficiency. If they focus exclusively on scale and capacity, they will store up problems for later, because not enough thought has been given to how they can grow efficiently and sustainably.

Shaping tomorrow’s leaders

This advantage is likely to have an impact on the nature of the global talent market over time. Already, countries such as Brazil and India have started to export talented executives to help run operations elsewhere.

This is part of a wider switch in the flow of talent, which used to run almost entirely from the west, but now is more typically characterized by a multidirectional movement of skilled executives globally.

This is a clear opportunity for rapid-growth market COOs. Their dual focus on top-line growth and bottom-line performance, with related skills forged in challenging and competitive markets, will set them up well as tomorrow’s leaders.

Over half (54%) believe they will make this switch in the next five years, compared with just 27% among developed market COOs.

The DNA of the COO - Time to claim the spotlight