Why Engineers Make Excellent Business Leaders

by | Sep 21, 2020 | Business Feature

It might surprise you to hear that over 30% of CEOs have an undergraduate degree in engineering. At first glance, engineering and business might sound like two very different and distinct specializations, but when you take a closer look, the ways in which these fields can overlap become more obvious. Business leaders and engineers actually have a lot more in common than they might think. They both have an eye for innovation and creativity, both want to create something useful and efficient, and they’re both concerned with finding new solutions and making the impossible, possible. While the day-to-day work of both these professionals might be very different, the skills and knowledge that you gain from a degree in engineering can be transferred very easily and effectively into a business career. Some of the main skills that make engineers some of the best business leaders include:

Attention to Detail:

Engineering is often referred to as ‘applied math’, and as an engineer, it’s part of your job to sweat the small stuff and make sure that all the finer details are attended to. In the world of business, this skill certainly comes in handy. With the huge sums of money that are often at stake in the business world, firms are always looking for employees who have the ability to both see the bigger picture while appreciating the finer details of their operations.

Planning, Problem Solving, and Time Management:

While studying for an engineering degree, students are usually expected to complete a variety of different projects which are designed to prepare them for a real-world engineering career and encourage finding an effective, efficient, and innovative solution to a given problem. Strict deadlines and a well-structured, organized approach to finding a solution mean that students who excel in these projects often develop a range of sought-after skills in the business world.

Numeracy and Data Processing:

Engineering and math are two subjects that are very closely linked, and you’d be hard-pressed to find an engineer who doesn’t have strong mathematical skills. Although you certainly don’t need to be a math whizz to succeed in the world of business, having strong numeracy skills can certainly put you at an advantage. Whether you’re trying to make sense of data and statistics, writing the financial sections of a business plan, coming up with financial forecasts, or negotiating better deals with suppliers, having a strong understanding of numbers is a huge asset to anybody working in a business.

Teamwork and Communication:

Although some people are always going to be more outgoing and extroverted compared to others, working together on a project as a team is a key part of studying for an engineering degree. Even if an engineer doesn’t have hopes of becoming an inspiring public speaker, they will almost certainly develop the ability and skill to communicate well as part of a team or as a team leader. And, strong communication skills are one of the most important to possess when it comes to success within a business or engineering management position. It’s important to be able to not only get instructions across to teams clearly but also have a strong ability to listen and understand whatever team members are communicating with you.

Technical Knowledge and Computer Skills:

Computer and IT skills, plus high levels of technical knowledge, go hand in hand with engineering. And today, all businesses need to keep up with modern technological advancements in order to succeed and thrive. Engineers also need to ensure that their knowledge and skills stay up to date. Engineering is another industry where modern technology has had a huge impact in bringing about several changes and many engineers have a strong knowledge of programming that can be a huge asset in the business world, particularly in tech companies that are rapidly growing.

Why Do Engineers Become Business Leaders?

All of the above transferable skills are certainly a key reason why many engineers are shifting their career focus to business leadership. But even with the benefits of these transferable skills, what tempts engineers over from their chosen line of work into something so different? Along with management and leadership skills in engineering itself, many engineers are enticed by the higher rates of pay that successful business leaders can enjoy in comparison with engineers. And, many engineers find the working conditions, such as office work and 9-5 hours, more preferable to the conditions offered in engineering work.

How to Get into Business Management as an Engineer:

Whether you have been working as an engineer for some time and want a career change or have just graduated from an engineering degree and want to put yourself in the best position for career progression, an MBA is often the best option for engineers looking to become successful business leaders. An MBA not only opens up many opportunities in engineering management itself, making it easier for engineers to make the move from technical positions to office-based leadership jobs, but also move into management positions in various other industries. Click here to learn more about how an MBA education can benefit both engineers and general managers.

Benefits of an MBA for Engineers:

If you’re an engineering graduate, or current engineer considering making the move into business management, an MBA has many benefits. Firstly, it will provide you with the resources that you need to develop and build on the transferable skills mentioned above that you have already developed as an engineer, and enable you to apply them to a business environment. Studying for an MBA allows you to combine both your technical skills and knowledge with a wide range of core business abilities that will put you in a prime place for engineering management positions or provide you with a platform to launch a management career in a different industry. Whether you want to move up the corporate ladder in engineering or want to facilitate a career change and start something new, an MBA opens up several opportunities with plenty of options to choose from.

At first glance, engineering and business might seem like polar opposites – but many of the skills that good engineers possess are exactly what makes them such good candidates for business leadership.

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