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Managing Director vs. General Manager: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

A managing director and general manager are both high-level executives who oversee the operations of a company. Though these positions share some similarities, there are several key differences between them.

In this article, we discuss the differences between a managing director and a general manager, and we provide additional information on other management positions you may be interested in pursuing.

What is a Managing Director?

Managing Directors are responsible for the overall management and operation of a company or organization. They develop and implement strategies and policies to ensure that the company meets its goals and objectives. Managing Directors also oversee the work of other executives and managers, and they may be involved in the hiring and firing of employees. In some cases, Managing Directors may also be responsible for raising capital for the company through investment banking or venture capital. Managing Directors typically report to the Board of Directors or the company’s shareholders.

What is a General Manager?

A General Manager is responsible for the overall management of a company or business unit. They develop and implement strategies and plans to ensure that the company meets its goals and objectives. General Managers also oversee the day-to-day operations of the company, including the production, marketing, sales, finance and human resources departments. They ensure that all company policies and procedures are followed and that the company complies with all applicable laws and regulations. General Managers also represent the company to shareholders, the media and the public.

Managing Director vs. General Manager

Here are the main differences between a managing director and a general manager.

Job Duties

General managers and managing directors share some job duties, such as overseeing daily operations, delegating tasks to employees and making strategic business decisions. However, the daily management responsibilities of a general manager typically involve specific aspects of an organization, such as sales, customer service and production. For example, a general manager for an automobile manufacturing company may oversee vehicle production, quality assurance and employee training.

Managing directors often have additional job duties that differ from those of general managers. A managing director is responsible for directing and advising upper management on important company decisions, such as mergers and acquisitions, corporate restructuring and expansion plans. In addition, managing directors are usually in charge of supervising and evaluating the work of general managers.

Job Requirements

Managing directors and general managers typically need at least a bachelor’s degree in business administration or another related field. Many employers prefer candidates to have a master’s degree as well, but it is not required for entry-level positions. Additionally, many managing directors and general managers pursue certifications through professional organizations, such as the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) or the Project Management Institute (PMI). These organizations offer training programs that teach professionals how to use management software and other tools they might need on the job.

Work Environment

Managing directors typically work in an office setting, often with other high-level executives. They may travel to visit different locations and meet with clients or vendors. General managers usually work in a variety of environments, depending on the needs of their company. They may spend time at customer sites, working directly with employees and customers. General managers also spend time in offices, where they can collaborate with other members of management teams.


The specific skills used on the job by a managing director and general manager can differ depending on the company and industry they work in. However, both roles typically require excellent leadership, communication and organizational skills.

A managing director is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of a company or organization. They may also be involved in developing long-term strategies and goals. A general manager is responsible for managing a specific department or division within a company. They may also be involved in developing operational plans to achieve specific goals.

Both managing directors and general managers need to have strong decision-making skills. They also need to be able to delegate tasks and manage staff effectively. Additionally, both roles may require financial management skills.


The average salary for a managing director is $135,809 per year, while the average salary for a general manager is $63,331 per year. The salary for both positions can vary depending on the size of the company, the industry in which the company operates and the location of the company.


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