There are endless types of companies: small or large, local or international, high-tech or low-tech… The list goes on. Despite the incredible variety of businesses, they all generally share the same goal: to increase revenue and grow the company. In order to meet their growth objectives, some companies choose to hire a strategic planner.
What does a strategic planner do, exactly? This career guide explains the major areas of responsibility for these professionals and walks you through a typical strategic planner job description. Read on to find out whether this position could be right for you.
In This Article:
- What Does a Strategic Planner Do?
- Strategic Planner Job Description Overview
- How To Become a Strategic Planner
- Take the Next Step by Earning a DBA in Marketing
- Essential Skills and Characteristics for an Effective Strategic Planner
What Does a Strategic Planner Do?
As the name suggests, a strategic planner is a high-level professional who is responsible for developing and implementing strategies and processes that are intended to enable a company to meet its growth objectives. In order to truly understand the role of a strategic planner, it’s helpful to have a deeper understanding of strategic planning itself and how it benefits companies.
Strategic planning is a dynamic, continuous process. It involves conducting an assessment of where the company currently stands (Point A), what the vision for the future is (Point B), and how to transition the company from Point A to Point B. It’s typical for strategic planning to map out a short-term future — usually the next three to five years — although there are exceptions.
The results of strategic planning are captured in a written report. The strategic plan is crucial because all types of companies need a clear, firmly established mission. The strategic plan provides a roadmap toward achieving that mission.
A typical strategic plan will contain the following elements:
- The company’s vision
- The company’s mission statement
- Specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-defined (SMART) goals
- An explanation of the strategic processes that will enable the company to meet those goals
Strategic Planner Job Description Overview
A strategic planner job description will vary depending on the particular needs of the business. In general, however, you’re likely to find the following job responsibilities listed:
- Conduct an analysis of the company’s mission, vision and goals
- Identify overly cumbersome processes that could be streamlined and made more efficient
- Conduct market research and evaluate industry trends
- Develop new strategies and tactical processes designed to enable the company to meet its objectives
- Develop written reports and present the work to senior decision-makers
- Evaluate the implemented strategies to assess their effectiveness and make modifications as needed
It’s often necessary for a strategic planner to work closely with not only the company’s top executives, but also with department managers. For example, a strategic planner may need to develop product or service plans for any given department as well as to re-evaluate them periodically.
Strategic planners must also keep their eyes and ears open, continuously monitoring the business climate. This is particularly true for businesses in industries that are subject to significant oversight. Strategic planners may need to modify their strategic processes to align with emerging regulatory guidance.
How To Become a Strategic Planner
As you might expect, strategic planners tend to have a strong academic background in a business and management field. For example, they may hold a bachelor’s degree in business administration, business management, marketing, accounting, finance or economics. If you’re a current high school student who is thinking of pursuing a career as a strategic planner, you should enroll in a relevant business-related degree program.
If you’ve already graduated and your degree was in a less relevant field, you can still work toward pursuing your dream career. It may benefit you to enroll in a master’s degree program in a business and management field. This would enable you to develop foundational and advanced competencies in that area.
The job of a strategic planner is not typically an entry-level one. Expect to need at least a few years of relevant work experience. For example, you might gain experience by working as a marketing coordinator, financial analyst or product development specialist.
Although it’s possible to find a job as a strategic planner with just a master’s degree and relevant work experience, you can set yourself apart from the competition by earning a doctoral degree. A Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) can be a good choice. A DBA differs from a PhD in that a DBA focuses on applying theories to solve real-world problems, whereas a PhD is more focused on theoretical research, rather than its applications.
Take the Next Step by Earning a DBA in Marketing
If a strategic planner job description appeals to you, it may be time to take the next step in your career. Because the role of a strategic planner is typically a high-level position, employers may prefer to hire strategic planners who hold an advanced credential, such as a Doctor of Business Administration in Marketing.
You might not necessarily earn a DBA in marketing right away, however. If it’s been a while since you were last in college, it’s a good idea to brush up on your academic skills by first taking a DBA bridge program. A bridge program will also prepare you to pursue a doctoral degree if your undergrad degree was in an unrelated field.
The specific curriculum for a DBA bridge program will vary, but in general, you may expect to study topics such as the following:
- The principles and practices of financial accounting, including financial statement analysis, accounting theories, the components of a balance sheet and the foundations of revenue recognition
- The basics of finance, with a look at financial analysis, financial planning, capital structure, working capital management and asset evaluation
- Mathematical, probabilistic and statistical concepts
- Marketing management, with an emphasis on marketing research, processes, product development innovation, pricing strategies and distribution value drain
You can typically complete a DBA bridge program entirely online. After completing your bridge program, you’ll be ready to apply to a DBA in marketing program.
Essential Skills and Characteristics for an Effective Strategic Planner
Now that you’re familiar with the answer to the question, “What does a strategic planner do?” it’s time to take a look at some skills and characteristics that help a strategic planner execute the necessary tasks.
- Interpersonal skills: Strategic planners must be able to work well with a range of people from all different backgrounds and with differing expertise.
- Communication skills: As a strategic planner, you’ll need to have excellent active listening skills so that you can fully understand the business’s needs and goals. You’ll also need to be able to clearly communicate your findings and recommendations in written reports as well as verbal presentations. Additionally, you’ll need specific communication skills such as negotiation, persuasiveness and, occasionally, conflict resolution.
- Analytical reasoning: Strategic planners need to be able to accurately assess a situation, identify areas of improvement and develop a plan for improvement.
- Creative problem solving: As a future strategic planner, you’re likely to encounter numerous challenges that may seem insurmountable at first blush. You’ll need creative problem-solving skills to develop innovative, workable solutions.
- Adaptability: At some companies, strategic planners have priorities that are subject to sudden changes. Strategic planners must be adaptable — able to adjust to rapidly changing priorities and changes in the business climate.
- A collaborative mindset: The nature of the strategic planning job requires close collaboration with a variety of stakeholders.
You can prepare to pursue higher-level opportunities when you earn a graduate degree at Grand Canyon University. In addition to our numerous undergraduate business and management degrees, the Colangelo College of Business is pleased to offer the online Bridge (Doctor of Business Administration: Marketing) program, which provides a pathway toward earning a DBA in marketing. Fill out the form on this page to learn more about joining our academically stimulating online learning community.
Approved by the dean of the College of Doctoral Studies on March 1, 2023.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.