Supply Chain Excellence – Production Manager

Hunter Campbell’s Supply Chain Excellence Series profiles roles within the Supply Chain job family including jobs in demand, salaries, and employment prospects.

In this article, the role of Production Manager is in the spotlight.

Purpose of the Role  

Production Managers are the heart and soul of a manufacturing environment. Their task is to plan, coordinate and control the manufacturing process so that finished goods are produced efficiently within the assigned budget. Production Managers are constantly trying to find a balance between productivity, rate of output per unit of input, throughput, speed at which your company takes raw materials, processes/manufactures them in to finished goods, and sells them. Throughput is a measure of effectiveness of a process, where productivity has a more ‘quantity produced’ focus. 

So, in essence, the Production Manager is responsible for the efficient running of a process, that will include both people and machines, which as a result will affect a variety of important stakeholders – including engineering, quality, health and safety, sales, marketing, planning and logistics. Hence, this person will not only need technical knowledge with regards to equipment and process, but also be able to display leadership ability to get the best out of the human element of the production line(s).  

Automation is obviously gaining momentum, so managing the human element in some cases will become less important over time. Although in a practical sense, I think although automation is popular to bring up in discussion, the actual equipment needs to be more affordable for widespread automation to become mainstream for a number of industries in a country the size of New Zealand. 


Production Management is an interesting career with regards to qualifications. You could come from a hands on production environment where you have had on the job training. If a tertiary qualification is preferred, you might have studied in the following areas: 

  • Engineering or manufacturing technology 
  • Food technology 
  • Purchasing and materials management 
  • Quality assurance 
  • Supply chain management or logistics 

We also see candidates who have on the job training to start and then build a tertiary qualification into their resume later in their career as the roles become more complex. Another route taken is doing a trade qualified course, for example a recent placement of ours started his career as a mechanic before going in to manufacturing where he ended up running one of the largest manufacturing sites in the country for close to a decade. That’s one of the great things about a production environment, in that if you are willing to learn and upskill, the options are endless in manufacturing and production.  

Key Skills Required  

Production Managers are required to be across the entire manufacturing process in which they are responsible for. As alluded to above, if the environment is highly automated then they will need technical knowledge. If the process is still somewhat manual, they will need both technical and managerial skills from a production background. A large percentage of Production Managers start on the production floor which gives them great understanding from the ground up. A quote from a recent conversation with a Production Manager placement of ours “I don’t expect anyone to do anything that I haven’t done before. The fact that I have done every role from the start of the process, brings a lot of credibility when getting buy in from the team.” 

The below skills will help you succeed as a Production Manager: 

  • Technical knowledge of different production processes (batch, job, flow) and methodologies (eg. Lean, Kanban, Just in Time) 
  • Technical problem-solving skills around process and equipment (a decent percentage of Production Managers have some sort of engineering qualification whether tertiary or trade qualified) 
  • Highly organised 
  • Project management skills 
  • The ability to communicate with and lead a team 
  • The ability to problem solve individually or within a team environment 

Career Prospects 

High performing Production Managers are highly sought after. They are essentially manufacturings’ most important cog, and a good one can make all the difference. You get to work with a raft of stakeholders, giving you experience across functions including engineering, quality, health and safety, sales, marketing, planning and logistics. This means your day is full of variety and a career that is extremely fulfilling. The next progression can be a Site Manager position responsible for multiple manufacturing/production processes. As the environments become more complex, to progress you will need to transition from hands-on production management, to someone who can lead large teams; put in place succession plans for critical staff; be able to take on the financial responsibility – running a site’s P&L/budgeting/resource allocation; and potentially sit on the senior leadership team. 

Recruitment Forecast 

We believe the quality of Production Manager in New Zealand is very good. Our background as hands on DIY types, lends itself to this type of career, especially in the regions within the primary industry sector. We are always coming across top talent which makes the job market very competitive. With the continuation of manufacturing onshoring, due to global Supply Chain disruption, we see a big uptick in production/manufacturing recruitment over the next 3 – 5 years.  

Salary Guide  

This information is anecdotal and based on roles Hunter Campbell is currently recruiting or has previously recruited and relate to base salaries. They do not include any additional bonuses or benefits. 

Junior: $80,000 – $100,000 

Intermediate: $100,000 – $120,000 

Senior: $120,000 – $150,000 

Salaries of Production Managers vary depending on the level of experience and the responsibilities within a role. A junior Production Manager looking after a simple production line could expect a salary between $80,000 – $100,000. Once you gain some experience and show they can run a team of operators, look after the equipment and optimise production, you would then step up into a bigger role paying a salary between $100,000 – $120,000. Senior Production Managers/Site Managers looking after single, or multi-site complex production/manufacturing environments would demand $120,000 base salary plus. 

These salaries will vary depending on the industry, company size and levels of responsibility. 

If you would like to find out more about the role of a Production Manager, please contact Senior Consultant John Boyle. John specialises in specialises the recruitment of Operations and Engineering. For more news and views, visit our website by clicking here, see what opportunities we have available here or follow us on LinkedIn.


Back to Insights