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Careers Centre

General management

Sector Overview

General Management involves being responsible, on a day-to-day basis, for the direction of a business, or part of a business, against the backdrop of an increasingly global market place. It’s varied, hands on and challenging with responsibility not only for the output of a team of staff but also to more senior managers for achieving project based work and management targets. Consequently, roles can be very busy but also stimulating and rewarding.

General Management activities typically include:

General Management attributes profile

Key attributes needed for the roleWhere you could develop these skills or attributes
Excellent communication and interpersonal skills CAPOD offers courses on these kinds of skills regularly within its Professional Skills Curriculum.


Taking on positions of responsibility in student-run societies will give you the chance to put these into practice

Persuasiveness and negotiating skills
Decision-making abilities and leadership potential
The ability to think strategically and to plan ahead
Flexibility to adjust to changing circumstances, while still meeting targets or deadlines
Commercial awareness Keep up-to-date with business and news, and develop this attribute through extra-curricular activity in student-run societies such as the Playfair Project and the Management Society
Other key attributes demanded for the role: do you possess them?
  • Resilience, an ability to handle criticism and make difficult decisions

Nature of sector or roles

There are opportunities in both the private and public sectors to join a general management graduate scheme with the chance to experience a range of management functions before deciding to specialize. Employers typically name these "general", "commercial", "operations" or "business" management schemes; they are ideal for graduates who can demonstrate management potential but who don’t have a clear idea of the function which is best suited to them, or those who don’t want to specialize too early in their career. Some are listed in the 'How to get a (graduate) job' section below. Graduates on these schemes tend to undertake project-based rotations within the business (and sometimes with partner or client organisations). It is worth noting that general management graduate schemes are often open to any subject area, but not all guarantee a job at the end; some schemes expect you to apply for a specific vacancy.

If you would prefer to opt for a particular management function you can turn your attention to a greater array of employers offering graduate schemes in the likes of purchasing, production, marketing, sales, business development, finance, HR, retailing, manufacturing or logistics/distribution. Some organisations may offer a specialist entry point but also the opportunity to rotate around a small number of other business areas as part of their graduate development programme. Graduates are also often encouraged to work in other functions during their time with a particular organisation and, interestingly, to reach managing director level, most large companies will look for someone with experience in more than one management function and, increasingly, in more than one organisation. A global outlook and experience is often valued and the opportunity to work internationally forms part of a growing number of graduate programmes.

Networks - why and how to use them


Why are networks important?

Where alumni work now

Your networks

 There are several ways to make contact with alumni.

Have a look at the Network with Alumni section of our website for more advice and information.


How to get experience/internships


How to get a (graduate) job

Applications, interviews and assessment centres

The selection process for general management graduate training schemes varies from company to company, but is typically in three or four parts:

You need to be aware of what the recruiters are looking for. An awareness of the employer's business and the sector in which it belongs will be important. Typically, large employers use 'competentcy-based' selection processes but some have moved towards strengths or values/motivation-based recruitment. Read employers' websites and brochures carefully.

Relevant Postgraduate Study

Is it a requirement?

A postgraduate degree is not usually necessary for obtaining a place on a 'general management' training programme. Some employers offer the opportunity to undertake a Masters in Management or Business whilst in employment. Other relevant professional qualifications are likely to be encouraged depending on your area of specialism at the end of the training programme, eg CIMA or CIPD.

Key Links and Resources

Careers Centre resources


Take Away



Use CareerConnect, your central careers hub, to:


Relevant Careers A-Z pages


General management-related careers information and vacancies

Professional Bodies, Trade Organisations & Journals/Magazines