Engineering management: from "oily rag" to the boardroom

The amount of experienced engineers and technical professionals, deciding to earn an MBA, has seen a dramatic rise in recent years. Technical experts realize that business skills are decisive for their career in the 21st century, allowing them to be more enterprising in taking knowledgeable decisions company-wide and paving the way to senior executive posts.

Engineers have had the so called ?oily rag? image recently, which brought a steady decay to their status. The other professions, like accounting and marketing, have become more valuable and lucrative. However, what is called the commercial side of engineering is sure to have its future, judging by the changing role of an engineer in a modern industrial company, where he is rather a manager that has to carry a new technology into effect. It requires a wider education that a technical degree can offer, in particular specific knowledge and skills in finance, marketing, human resource management, organizational behavior and management strategy. This tendency drives an increasing number of engineers to complete MBA courses. You can not but mention the fact that engineering management experts are often taking senior executive positions at the top of industrial organizations in such developed countries as Japan, the USA and Germany.

To begin with, it is impossible for a technical professional to climb the career ladder without management skills. This frustration is one of the reasons that urge many technical experts to take MBA courses in their attempt to break through the limitations, set by technical skills and qualifications and to advance more rapidly to senior posts. In addition, many technical experts are attracted to MBA courses through their entrepreneurial zeal, which combined with the skills and knowledge, acquired during an MBA course, is a confident way to the business success.

Moreover, engineers choose to study at business schools due to the growing number of technical MBA programs, specifically designed for engineers. For instance, Bradford, Bath and Lancaster business schools in the UK have courses that focus on Technology and Information Management. Some business schools even offer dual-degree engineering management programs, combining the MBA and Master of Science in engineering degrees. The number of engineers, taking engineering management courses has nearly doubled recently.

The MBA broadens the outlook of engineers, providing them with wide knowledge that their technical degree lacks. MBA courses are usually for people with a work experience. Sharing this experience in seminar classes helps students understand the work of the company more profoundly and in more details in the areas, not usually embraced by their engineering qualification. Adult students, who usually study part-time, can bring plenty of experience to these classes. You would have to work in a wide range of jobs in many different organizations to gain the equal amount of awareness in business issues.

The MBA is something more than only additional management skills, offering a wide range of the so-called "life experiences" as for the interaction with a great network of like-minded people with the similar background. Additionally, due to the multicultural intake, there are many chances to develop language and interpersonal skills and make the most of discussion and exchange of views with peers, coming from multiple industries all over the world.

You can not help mentioning the stumbling block that is common for the majority of prospective students of engineering management courses. It is the risk of leaving usually an influential job and the perspective of facing at least twelve months with no salary and, what is more, the necessity to start from the point zero in seeking a suitable employment. One of the ways out (at least for the UK residents) is the Sainsbury Management Fellows sponsorship that helps students really concentrate on their studies. The sponsorship gives MBA graduates the freedom to consider more thoroughly their post-MBA career perspectives, to be more observant and selective in their job choices and not to jump at the first job offer that helps to get rid of debts. It also allows MBA graduates, who have discovered their gift of an entrepreneur, to start a business shortly after their graduation.

Engineers, taking MBA courses, benefit not only from the understanding of business fundamentals and the broad outlook, there is much more in the courses than formal learning and getting a CV qualification. It is a life changing experience and a strong set of skills for business today.

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