In business, you definitely need to be business savvy and consistently upgrade or update your skill sets, especially if you are transferring from a different industry or line of work.
I know this post seems a little bit biased leaning more towards engineers, it’s only because I wanted people to debate the facts from their own experience. I personally have nothing against MBAs and I know that it totally depends upon the persons work ethic.
As an engineer myself, I really didn’t find the transition from engineering to business as difficult, it just requires a lot of private, offline study time. You really have to want it to understand business, especially from the strategic BPM/BPI perspective. To help my transition easier, I started from the project management field, which basically encompasses all industries but institutionally stems from higher educational business certifications and business degree programs.
The Engineering Statement
Engineers are much better in business than most people would like to admit.
I believe that we are better at problem solving and understanding the necessary formulas to producing long-term, continuous results under the most competitive, changing market conditions. Unlike the average business mind, an Engineers work ethic is all about proficiency and the mechanics behind the business processes that we implement to include the architecture involved to sustain the positive slope of success. We create the most effective and efficient ways of working, usually supported by a philosophy that focuses on strict engineering disciplines that can be integrated into any strategy.
Most times, it’s really difficult for people to understand the ‘method behind the madness’ unless you have worked in the engineering environment. We are all about getting to the root cause of any issue tirelessly, solving the problem with patience, and creating a dynamic structure that prevents those problems from reoccurring.
A Brief History of Engineers In Business
“Missing since 1940: engineers as business leaders.
Looking back in America’s history, some of the greatest business leaders were engineers. The Panama Canal construction was managed entirely by engineers like John Frank Stevens. Thomas Edison is one of the most notable American engineers and businessman. Henry Ford, Jimmy Carter, Herbert Hoover, the list goes on. Somewhere along the line, something changed. While today an impressive 20 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs have a degree in engineering, there is an opportunity for many more to become leaders. In the 1950s and 60s there was a shift in American culture from industrial-focused careers to careers focused on business. We started to see big businesses running the economy, and this has increased as time passed.
Through this transformation, engineers began to lose their positions as leaders of the great businesses they had helped to create, replaced by professional business managers. As a result, a leadership mentality was slowly stripped away from engineers and the engineering mentality started to play a lesser role in business decision making (Sasha Gurke. “Why Engineers Could Make The Best Business Leaders”. Business Insider: Engineers. 19 Decemeber 2011. Web. 05 November 2012).”
Even in the past engineers reigned supreme, but due to the politics of the corporate structure and all of the hidden agendas involved in these competitive strategies, engineers were removed from power by the corporations of America.
Today, I believe that it is a direct reflection of our failure in business and the great decline of our economy because the people that understand business most, are not in the position to utilize their talents to make the necessary change to improve the economical structure of America. It’s all about putting on a show now days, how well a person can persuade regardless if the product is flawed or not, and getting the cheaper labor that degrades the quality products of American manufacturing.
It’s all because of the failure to adopt the strong engineering discipline and practices that this great country is currently having so many problems.
Even our presidential candidates are businessmen that lack the true understanding of how to solve America’s complex problems that we have created overtime for ourselves and obviously they are not problem solvers, but rather business consultants. A business consultants job is not necessarily to solve problems but to maintain processes to prevent organizations from falling in those well known pitfalls. It is the engineers job to figure out the problem and then solve it.
Even in today’s startups and the real of entrepreneurship, engineers appear to be more effective than MBA degree holders.
Engineering Degrees vs MBA Graduates
“So you want to start a company. You’ve finished your undergraduate degree and you’re peering into the haze of your future. Would it be better to continue on to an MBA or do an advanced degree in a nerdy pursuit like engineering or mathematics? Sure, tech skills are hugely in demand and there are a few high-profile nerd success stories, but how often do pencil-necked geeks really succeed in business?
Aren’t polished, suited and suave MBA-types more common at the top? Not according to a recent white paper from Identified, tellingly entitled,”Revenge of the Nerds”. The company, which analyzes Facebook profiles, combed through its database, culling information on the profiles of CEOs and founders to see what path they took to entrepreneurial success. The result: Three times as many had advanced degrees in engineering than had an MBA.
When it came to company leaders with only an undergrad education, the number with degrees in business and engineering was about evenly split (Jessica Stillman.”The Best Degree For Start-Up Success.” INC. 02 Feb 2012. Print.).”
The MBA Problem
“Traditionally, it has been believed that entrepreneurs should go to business school and receive an MBA. It is now coming to light that this is probably not the best approach for most entrepreneurs to pursue.
The biggest problem with the traditional model towards business success is that most business schools do not teach their students how to be innovative thinkers or actively teach them how to take the initiative they would need to be successful as entrepreneurs. Business schools focus on teaching students how to fit in with the traditional structured environment with the expectation that they will be migrating into the corporate world. They will occasionally mention that it is important to challenge the status quo, but in actuality they teach their students to conform to it far more often.
Students are taught how to solve problems and that if they use a different solution they will not be successful. Obviously, such philosophies are the enemy of true entrepreneurship and many find that attending business school will actually dampen their lust for innovation. Conversely, engineering students are regularly instructed not only to challenge the status quo, but how they can do so successfully.
The curriculum of an engineering program is centered around innovative thinking. It is no coincidence that so many great entrepreneurs came from educational backgrounds in the fields of engineering, physics and computer science. In a career that is centered around the importance of innovation. It is counterproductive to pursue a field of study that so often crushes the innovative spirit (Kalen Smith.”Why Engineers Often Develop Business Better Than MBAs”. Engineer A Business: Networking For Success In Technology Entrepreneurship. 12 April 2012. Web. 05 November 2012.)”.