For engineers who want to progress to leadership roles within the industry, undertaking a master’s degree seems like a logical step. However, it isn’t just the engineering industry that’s scouring the job market for candidates with engineering leadership skills.
In fact, highly-qualified engineers with managerial expertise are in high demand across all industries and sectors. For experienced professionals with an MBA engineering qualification, the career options are endless, so what is it about engineering graduates that makes them stand out from the crowd?
Engineers are known for their unique approach to problem solving, and that’s a trait that’s needed in any business. While engineers naturally take an analytic approach to problems, they also possess a creativity that enables them to come up with innovative and bespoke solutions.
This combination is what allows companies to deliver proprietary products, be the first to create new innovations and streamline their internal processes. What’s more, engineers are adept at assessing all the data that contributes to an issue. In short, an engineer’s approach to problem solving can help businesses to cut costs, increase turnover and sidestep competitors.
The vast majority of practical and academic engineering work involves working in collaboration with others. Engineers routinely work on large projects alongside a range of other professionals. This experience ensures they bring a collaborative approach to the ventures they’re involved in.
Regardless of whether an engineering leader is working within the sector or in another industry, their ability to work with others and establish interdepartmental collaboration works in their favor. As businesses seek to encourage a more collaborative approach, the natural tendency of engineers to work as part of a team makes them an obvious choice for leadership roles.
Whether you’ve got a background in mechanical, electrical, chemical, civil or geotechnical engineering, you’ll be used to making decisions. Although engineers are well-trained to assess all relevant inputs before coming to a conclusion, they’re no strangers to taking ownership of their decisions.
Of course, this is a stand-out characteristic of a good leader and one that is hard to come by. Businesses look for managers who can make informed, clinical decisions and stand by them, so it’s no surprise that engineering managers are in such high demand. By using the skills they’ve honed throughout their career and transferring them into a different sector, engineers can successfully move from one industry to another, jumping up the career ladder as they go.
Engineers are required to communicate with a variety of different personnel, and they can use this skill in any role they subsequently take on. In day-to-day working life, engineers liaise with a wide range of workers, from CEOs and Project Managers to construction workers, inventors and clients. Furthermore, engineers need to be able to communicate well both orally and in writing. When they progress to leadership roles, it’s clear that superior communication skills will put them in good stead.
It’s no secret that great leaders can communicate effectively. Indeed, it’s being able to communicate well that inspires a workforce, drives motivation and gets results. As engineers rely on effective communication throughout their careers, this is a talent they can transfer to any workplace and any sector.
Most engineering roles involve some type of risk management, so this element of leadership roles is a natural transition for an experienced engineer. With the ability to transfer these skills into the boardroom, engineers are quick to weigh up the pros and cons before making informed decisions.
Whether they’re designing a new product or interviewing candidates for a new role, engineers are quick to draw on all the resources available so that they can assess the risk outcome of any situation. Leaders are required to make both short- and long-term risk management projections on a day-to-day basis, which is one of the reasons that engineers can become most effective when they’re in leadership roles.
Most engineers will work in the industry for a number of years before they move into a leadership role. However, there are steps you can take to climb the ladder sooner. Gradually accepting more responsibility and seniority can give you great leadership skills, for example, and the experience will enable you to decide if a leadership position is right for you.
To secure top leadership roles, however, you’ll need to develop your skills and highlight your management expertise. By undertaking further study and gaining a master’s degree, for example, you can learn key management principles and understand how to use them in the workplace.
When combined with practical, academic and theoretical experience as a working engineer, this additional training and education can be invaluable. As many organizations actively look for leaders with engineering backgrounds, you can use your expertise to operate in any sector or industry.
Although many engineers are keen to progress their careers, juggling a full-time career and in-depth study can be tricky. Traditionally, engineers would be forced to scale back their job role if they wanted to enroll in a master’s program, for example. Fortunately, that’s no longer the case.
Online learning has opened up a world of possibilities, particularly for adult learners who may have a range of competing demands to cope with. If you’re working and raising a family, for example, you may not be able to take a year off to complete your studies. By enrolling in an online engineering management master’s, however, you can gain the knowledge and qualifications you need without giving up your job or your income.
Furthermore, an online program gives you the opportunity to incorporate the management theories you learn into your day-to-day role. This practical experience strengthens your understanding and puts you a step ahead of the competition when it comes to securing leadership roles.
Great managers possess many of the qualities associated with engineers, so it’s not surprising that they’re in high demand. For engineers who want to diversify into other areas or take the next step up the career ladder, undertaking an advanced management course may be their best option.