General Manager

A General Manager (GM) role requires a candidate to build a team to localise all services, create partnerships, and drive all marketing activities to acquire and retain customers. If you are looking for a GM role or would like to find out how to become a GM, what skills you need, and what salaries are on offer, you will find a complete guide below.

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What is a General Manager?

A General Manager is a high-level executive responsible for overseeing and leading the overall operations and growth of a business. They are responsible for developing and executing strategies to achieve the company’s goals and objectives.

This person is responsible for leading the growth and expansion efforts of a brand within a certain market. They would be the main point of contact and commercial lead for the specific market, working closely with other locations.

General Manager objectives

A General Manager should conduct market research to understand the target audience and competitors in their market. Based on their findings, they would develop a growth strategy to position the brand effectively. This strategy would encompass all commercial aspects, including product localisation, partnerships, and marketing activities aimed at acquiring, delighting, and retaining customers.

This role also involves building and leading a team to support the growth efforts. They would hire and manage individuals across various functions, such as marketing, product management, and partnerships. Additionally, they would ensure compliance with local legislation and regulatory requirements.

As the in-market figurehead, the GM would handle public relations, government relations, and communications with various stakeholders, including media agencies and legal teams.

To excel in this role, a candidate should possess strong leadership skills, with experience in managing teams across multiple functions. A data-driven approach, excellent communication and influencing skills, and the ability to work hands-on and be detail-oriented, particularly in the early stages, are also essential for success as a General Manager.

General Manager career

The career stages of a General Manager can vary depending on the industry, organisation, and individual circumstances. However, there are common career stages that many GM’s go through in their professional journey:

Starting out: The first stage involves starting in a junior or entry-level management position – this could be a department supervisor, team leader, or assistant manager role. At this stage, individuals learn the basics of managing teams, implementing processes, and gaining industry knowledge.

Mid-level: In this stage, individuals progress to mid-level management positions such as department manager, regional manager, or business unit manager. They have more responsibilities, oversee larger teams, and are involved in making strategic decisions that impact the department or division they are responsible for.

Management: At this stage, individuals hold titles such as Senior Vice President, Director, or Chief Operations Officer (COO). They are responsible for managing multiple departments and play a crucial role in setting the company’s overall strategic direction. They work closely with other senior executives and the CEO to drive business growth, manage resources, and ensure success.

General Manager: The General Manager stage represents the pinnacle of a management career. General Managers are typically responsible for overseeing the entire business or a significant portion of it. They have broad authority and accountability for all aspects of the business, including operations, finance, marketing, human resources, and strategic planning. GM’s are often part of the executive leadership team and report directly to the CEO or board of directors.

Executive leadership or CEO: In some cases, GM’s may progress to executive leadership positions, such as CEO or other C-suite roles. 

General Manager salary

There are many factors used to determine the General Manager salary and package expectations – size of business, industry, growth stage, product pipeline and company turnover – just to name a few.

We’d expect a salary between £100,000 – £300,000 with additional benefits such as private medical insurance, performance related bonuses and pension contributions as standard for this level of role. The salary is largely determined by the organisation type, i.e., a large global listed business will be closer to the top range, with an early-stage scale-up towards the lower end of the scale, potentially with an equity package to enhance the overall package.

Equally, if an employer requires a General Manager with specific niche experience and knowledge, the candidate will often be able to negotiate a salary at the higher end of this scale.

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General Manager job description

A typical General Manager job description will read something like the below:

We’re searching for a UK General Manager for a very high-profile US consumer healthtech/wellness brand who’s recent multi-$100m funding round positions them to localise their service across new European and Global territories and enter new markets.

The UK General Manager role involves leading the UK growth strategy formation and execution, across all commercial levers. Over time you’ll build a UK team to localise all services, create partnerships, and drive all marketing activities to acquire, delight and retain UK customers.

This is a rare opportunity to take a high-profile consumer wellness service with a proven product market fit and significant funding into the UK market. You’ll be very hands on initially, building a high performing team over time.

The UK General Manager will:

  • Be the point person and commercial lead for the UK market, leading the growth effort and engaging with US HQ teams and leadership
  • Conduct UK market research to understand consumers and competitors
  • Develop the UK growth strategy to position the service in the UK market
  • Create a prioritised roadmap of actions which tie back to clear impacts on top and bottom line for the UK
  • Own the local product experience across localised product features, creating a roadmap of product feature roll-outs, development and initiatives for UK users
  • Work with US teams to identify and craft UK service features, monitoring the quality of customer service, analysing research and driving Marketing with the Director of UK Marketing
  • Develop a standard format to provide feedback to HQ teams on where gaps exist on the local customer experience
  • Ensure compliance with UK legislation and regulatory requirements
  • Build a team to enable partnerships and activations which can drive organic growth for the business
  • Be the in-market figure head, handling PR and government relations in conjunction with comms teams, legal teams and agencies

Candidates for the UK General Manager role must have:

  • Previous experience in a commercial leadership role for a consumer facing digital service from any consumer sector
  • Ideally experience with a scaling consumer tech brand / Scale Up / Start Up experience
  • Leadership experience across product management, marketing, partnerships and all commercial growth levers
  • Comfortable being hands-on and detail focussed, particularly in the early stages.
  • Strong experience building and leading high performing teams, across marketing, product, partnerships
  • A very strong data focus and comfort generating insight, measuring performance and solving problems using data
  • First class communication and influencing skills to manage internal and external relationships, engage and pitch to partners and for PR/Press communications

What skills are employers looking for?

These skills are specific to the role of a GM and are valued by employers seeking candidates who can successfully lead and drive growth in a dynamic and competitive business environment.

  1. Strategic vision: The ability to formulate a clear and compelling vision for the future and align the team towards achieving it.
  2. Market expansion: Proven experience in expanding into new markets, entering new territories, and driving growth in diverse geographical locations.
  3. Business development: A track record of successfully identifying and executing strategic partnerships, collaborations, and business opportunities to drive revenue growth.
  4. Global market knowledge: In-depth understanding of global market trends, consumer preferences, and regulatory landscapes to navigate international expansion.
  5. Scaling operations: Experience in scaling and improving operations to accommodate rapid growth, including implementing efficient processes and systems.
  6. Investor relations: Demonstrated ability to manage relationships with investors, secure funding, and effectively communicate financial performance and growth prospects.
  7. Brand building: Expertise in building and managing a strong brand identity, developing brand strategies, and driving brand awareness.
  8. Product localisation: Experience in localising products or services to cater to specific markets, including adapting features, pricing, and marketing strategies.
  9. Team leadership: A strong track record of building and leading high-performing teams, fostering a culture of innovation, collaboration, and accountability.
  10. Regulatory compliance: Comprehensive knowledge of industry regulations, compliance requirements, and the ability to ensure adherence to legal and ethical standards.
  11. Crisis management: Proficiency in navigating and leading through crises, demonstrating resilience, adaptability, and the ability to make timely and effective decisions.
  12. Competitive analysis: The capability to conduct thorough competitive analysis, monitor market trends, and develop strategies to maintain a competitive edge.
  13. Public relations: Experience in managing external communications, media relations, and representing the brand to the public and key stakeholders.
  14. Customer acquisition and retention: Expertise in developing and executing customer acquisition and retention strategies to drive revenue growth and enhance customer loyalty.
  15. Cultural intelligence: The ability to understand and navigate diverse cultures, both within the business and in international markets, to establish effective working relationships and drive success.

General Manager FAQs

What does a general manager do?
General managers oversee the day to day operations of a line of business or a business segment. The role involves leading the growth strategy formation and execution, across all commercial levers. The General Manager will need to localise all services, create partnerships, and drive all marketing activities to acquire and retain customers
What's higher than a general manager?
In most business structures, a General Manager position would report into the Vice President of Operations or Chief Operations Officer.