Tag Archives: advancement

Episode 63 — Engineering MBA

MBAMichael Lachman, who started his career as an aerospace engineer, leads us through the pros and cons of following up an engineering degree with an MBA.

  • Adam doesn’t have much interest in business, so he doesn’t think he’s a likely candidate to pursue an MBA (Master of Business Administration) degree.
  • Our guest for this episode is Michael Lachman, Founder and President of EyeQ Research, a consulting firm that provides ophthalmic medical device manufacturers with market research, industry insights, and business guidance.
  • As he was growing up, Michael was inspired by the efforts of the United States’ space program to land a man on the moon.
  • Michael started his career with Lockheed Corporation, working on feedback control systems.
  • Much of our guest’s work for Lockheed involved simulating spacecraft dynamics in software code, which he dutifully did by writing programs with the FORTRAN programming language.
  • Michael pursued a master’s degree in mechanical engineering, figuring that an MSME degree would provide him with a more diverse set of career opportunities.
  • Jeff and Michael worked together at Baxter Travenol (now Baxter International) for a short period of time, both having had their graduate design projects at Stanford funded by the company.
  • Despite wearing three-piece suits to work, Jeff and Michael found their work atmosphere in the mid-1980’s to be a far cry from the 1960’s era portrayed in the Mad Men television series.
  • Students are typically required to take the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) as a condition of applying to a business school.
  • Our guest reports that going to business school on a part-time basis, while working a full-time job, is a difficult task.
  • Already possessing strong quantitative skills from his engineering coursework, Michael elected to attend Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, so that he could benefit from the school’s emphasis on marketing and case studies.
  • Certain employers place a great emphasis on where one obtains their business degree, so it’s a good idea to investigate corporate hiring practices before committing to any particular university’s MBA program.
  • MBA programs are often compared based on the rankings they receive from the magazine US News and World Report.
  • Universities conferred 74 percent more business degrees in the 2012-2013 school year than they did just eleven years prior. Brian wonders if this means that the MBA degree has been significantly devalued.
  • Receiving appropriate financial compensation for one’s enhanced skill set (in this case, through the acquisition of an MBA) often requires finding a new employer.
  • A typical MBA program has courses that fall into one of three broad categories: analytical, functional, and ethical.
  • Several years after receiving his MBA, Michael was hired by an investment banking firm.
  • The efficient market theory claims that, at any given time, all information about a firm and it’s financial prospects are immediately factored into the company’s stock price.
  • Michael covered the ophthalmic medical device as a research analyst. Ophthalmology deals with the anatomy, physiology and diseases of the eye.
  • In 2005, our guest started his own consulting firm; this allowed him to continue performing the market research he enjoyed, but without having to make stock recommendations.
  • The cost of MBA programs has skyrocketed in recent years, much as with other educational programs.
  • Opportunity costs reflect the value of foregone possibilities; that is, what benefits you could have enjoyed by pursuing the “next best” alternative.
  • Our guest suggests that engineers take a rational look at their career objectives, and the possible economic outcomes, before embarking on an MBA program.
  • Michael can be reached through the e-mail address found on his website.

Thanks to the Tulane Public Relations for the photo titled “Business Class.” Podcast theme music by Paul Stevenson.

Episode 45 — Success

mountaintop2We talk with civil engineer, author, and coach Anthony Fasano about steps one can take to ensure a successful engineering career.

  • Although Jeff’s engineering career hasn’t led to huge financial success, he considers it to have been successful, as he has gotten to work on a lot of interesting projects, and meet many fascinating people.
  • Our guest for this episode is Anthony Fasano, a professional engineer who has authored the book, Engineer Your Own Success: 7 Key Elements to Creating An Extraordinary Engineering Career.
  • Anthony started as a field surveyor in high school, which led him into a career as a civil engineer.
  • Coming out of college, our guest focused his professional efforts in the area of site development while working for Maser Consulting.
  • Young engineers are often not aware of the numerous sub-disciplines that comprise the engineering profession.
  • Sensing that his work routine was falling into a rut after a few years on the job, Anthony started asking other engineers what it took to develop a successful engineering career.
  • Having leveraged non-technical skills en route to becoming an associate partner, Anthony was asked by his employer to share his insights with other engineers.
  • Our guest credits Tony Robbins with influencing his decision to become an executive coach.
  • Having been successful in coaching engineers at Maser, Anthony left to start his own firm, Powerful Purpose Associates.
  • Seeing that his “true” clients were engineers, rather than engineering companies, our guest started the Institute for Engineering Career Development.
  • After writing his book, Anthony spent three years touring the United States, with books in the trunk of his car, talking to engineering associations about achieving career success.
  • From Anthony’s book, the seven keys to achieving success in an engineering career are:
    1. Setting Goals
    2. Obtaining Credentials
    3. Finding a mentor
    4. Becoming a great communicator
    5. Networking
    6. Becoming organized
    7. Being a leader
  • Our guest recommends getting involved with an organization like Toastmasters International to improve speaking skills.
  • Anthony credits Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, with improving his understanding of how to interact with other people.
  • Dealing with e-mail overload is a subject Anthony addressed on his blog, in an entry titled “Engineers: Are You Having Trouble Getting Out of Your E-mail Inbox?
  • A quick mention of productivity methods arises, including The Seven Habits, and Getting Things Done (GTD). Anthony recommends the book, The Power of Less, authored by Leo Babauta, for its simplification of GTD concepts.
  • Anthony currently serves as Executive Director for the New York State Society of Professional Engineers.
  • Anthony has written a number of articles about career development on his blog for the Institute of Engineering Career Development.
  • A recent project for Anthony has been launching a podcast, The Engineering Career Coach, in which he advises engineers on how to advance their careers.
  • Our guest can be found online via LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

Thanks to Paxson Woelber for the untitled photo. Podcast theme music provided by Paul Stevenson

Episode 14 — Superstars

Chris and Jeff talk about how one might go about becoming an engineering “superstar.”

  • Neither Jeff or Chris have been particularly successful at figuring out how to advance their careers in large organizations, so they may not be the best at describing how one moves upward through the corporate structure.
  • A recent episode of This American Life talked about teaching networking skills to schoolkids, suggesting that engineers could also learn the relationship skills needed to move up the organizational ladder.
  • Engineers often find themselves having to take on managerial duties mid-career if they want to see their salary increase.
  • People want comfort and familiarity in their business dealings, so they are attracted to those who make them feel good about themselves and their situation.
  • Many organizations require advancing engineers to complete Six Sigma projects.
  • Organizations are rarely meritocracies, much to the chagrin of technically-oriented engineers.
  • A recent study at Harvard showed that bosses are less stressed out than their employees, mostly because they have more control over their activities.
  • Chris found an article titled “How to be a Star Engineer.” For those with access to the archives of IEEE Spectrum, the article is on pages 51–58 of volume 36, issue 10, from October, 1999. The text of this article is currently floating around online as a PDF file.
  • The book associated with this article is How to Be a Star at Work: 9 Breakthrough Strategies You Need to Succeed, by Robert E. Kelley.
  • Strategy 1: Blazing Trails — Demonstrate initiative, by seeking out new responsibilities, undertaking extra efforts for the benefit of others, and filling the gaps between job descriptions.
  • According to the Peter Principle, employees tend to rise to their highest level of incompetence.
  • Strategy 2: Knowing Who Knows — Build a professional network that provides access to needed support at crucial times.
  • Chris has found that having curiosity and providing value are useful in building relationships.
  • Strategy 3: Proactive Self-Management — Honestly assess your strengths and weaknesses, then work to improve your value to the organization.
  • Strategy 4: Getting the Big Picture — Seek an understanding of the perspectives and values of other groups and functions within the organization.
  • Strategy 5: The Right Kind of Followership — Be a follower that makes your manager successful, rather than one who simply follows orders.
  • Strategy 6: Teamwork as Joint Ownership of a Project — Look to improve the structures that support and enhance group dynamics, in addition to being a “team player.”
  • Seth Godin has written a book called The Dip, which proposes that superstars have the ability to quickly escape dead ends, while knowing when to stick with important projects.
  • Strategy 7: Small-L Leadership — Approach leadership as a strategy for influencing others to unite on a substantial task, rather than issuing commands from above.
  • Jeff likes the book Managing Leadership by Jim Stroup, which makes the argument that leadership emanates from the organization, rather than from senior management.
  • Strategy 8: Street Smarts — Having political and social savvy is quite beneficial in moving upward through an organization.
  • Strategy 9: Show and Tell — Getting noticed, for good reasons, is important for moving up in a company. Getting noticed in a manner that promotes a common theme about your talents is even better.
  • There are good reasons to stay at a company for a decade or more. Even hard-charging, well-respected CEOs have trouble transferring their skills to new organizations.

Thanks to Elisabeth Audrey for the photo titled “Don’t Worry.” Podcast theme music provided by Paul Stevenson