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A Guide to a Career in Strategic Planning

In simple words, a strategic planner makes strategic plans for an organization. The goal of their plan is to lead the organization towards growth and profitability.

The plan is based on information gathered from internal and external sources, which includes market reports, financial reports, competitor’s data, and more. A strategic planner gathers relevant information and analyzes it to create a plan that will help the organization to grow despite increasing competition and dynamic business landscape.

A strategic planner does this by collecting information related to market trends, industry, and competitors. This requires planners to understand an industry inside out. Additionally, planners require familiarity with various business functions, so that a synergic plan can be created. The planner works with managers to ensure planning is efficient by taking employee performance into consideration.

To sum up, strategic planners are business strategy professionals who work at the intersection of business strategy and planning, requiring skills for both.

 Role of a strategic planner  

  1. In the entry-level role, as a strategic planning associate, they work with strategy managers or senior management teams to collect data, make presentations, understand business problems, spot business opportunities, and even solve operational challenges.
  1. In the mid-level role, as a strategic planning manager, they work with various teams and management leaders to craft holistic plans to increase the productivity of teams, improve business performance, and increase the revenue of the business. This requires planners to have good business acumen, strong interpersonal and communication skills, and a collaborative approach.

3. In senior roles, strategic planners are often found in a c-suite role. Prior to achieving this role, a strategic planner can be the head of a business or corporate strategy team, where junior strategic planning associates can report to her. In a senior role, strategic planners actively participate in business decision making. At times, strategic planners are part of the board and participate in corporate strategy decision making.

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 Skills of a strategic planner 

With the above information, it may seem that strategic planners need analytical skills at best. However, this is far from the truth. Initially, a strategic planner needs more analytical skills than any other skill. As they progress in their career, new skills are required to be added.

  1. Business acumen: A strategic planner is expected to think along the lines of business. What actions will help a business grow and what will hamper a business are questions that a strategic planner should be able to answer in the context of their employer.
  1. Analytical skills: Initially, a strategic planner does a lot of data crunching to understand a business landscape, obtained from internal and external sources. They use the data to spot opportunities and even avoid potential business risks.
  1. Communication skills: A strategic planner at all levels communicates with managers, junior employees, management leaders, and others to convey their ideas and keep track of the execution of planning. This requires them to communicate clearly both in written or verbal.
  1. Collaboration skills: In junior, mid, and senior-level roles, a strategic planner collaborates with team managers to ensure smooth execution of planning. They often work with team managers to define their KPIs.

 Qualification of a strategic planner 

Typically, business school graduates are preferred for the position of a strategic planner. An MBA in business strategy is the most sought-after credential for this position among employers.

Professionals with experience in corporate strategy, business strategy, business development, and management with a business strategy certification can enter this role.

All in all, to make a career in strategic planning, you need a gamut of business-oriented skills coupled with soft-skills.

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