• Question: is it true that despite the fact that you study your respective fields that you will probably end up in a management position that will demand different skills to what you learned.

    Asked by saieem to Marcus, Claire, Alex on 18 Jun 2014.
    • Photo: Alex Lyness

      Alex Lyness answered on 18 Jun 2014:

      Hey @saieem,

      This is a brilliant question, where did you hear that from?

      The answer is: yes and no!

      The higher you go up in an organisation after school/uni it is likely you will have to manage more and more people. In order to manage them well its really important to know what they are doing and to delegate tasks and review their outputs. So you will need knowledge from your respective fields to be a good manager.

      When managing people, you will learn to have good people skills, balance time well and have good discipline, it all sounds a bit like being a teacher doesn’t it? Well that’s because he/she ‘manages’ a class everyday.

      However, if all managers/teachers did their jobs without any knowledge of their fields they would not be able to make very good decisions or impart much information. So to be a good manager you need to know your field really well and then learn the other skills on top of and not instead of those things you studied for.

      Hopefully that should make you seem a little more optimistic about becoming an engineer, manager or teacher 😀

    • Photo: Claire Brockett

      Claire Brockett answered on 18 Jun 2014:

      Hi Saieem
      Great question.
      It is true that over time I’m likely to end up in a management position – where I manage projects and people… but they are engineering skills too. Team work is hugely important in engineering – and that involves people management whether you’re the team leader or a team member.
      Time management is also very important to make sure you stay on track to meet deadlines – again a skill that engineers at all levels need to use.
      I probably spend less time in the labs actually doing research than when I first started, and a bit more time doing the administrative side, and meeting with my PhD students, but I still need all my practical engineering skills. Even my boss, who’s really important in the university, uses his engineering skills – particularly the problem solving, and although he doesn’t directly do research any more he keeps up with everything that is going on so he can make suggestions and give ideas for the issues we might need to solve.