Engineers as executives

People don’t tick like machines

Reading balance sheets, drawing up cost sheets, interpreting legal clauses - these are not things that engineers and scientists usually learn in college. Consequently, they often lack the requisite broad-brush commercial and legal knowledge for managerial responsibilities. They also often find it difficult to exercise leadership. Why? Because people do not tick as logically and rationally as machines do.

Until a few years ago, the careers of engineers and scientists were extensively predetermined. They were there to do technical work. At best, they might become the head of a research und development department or a production facility. In most cases, that was the end of the line. The top rungs of the career ladder were reserved for lawyers and business economists, especially if the company in question was not a producer of something. Top-level business leaders did not consider engineers capable of managing major corporate units – chiefly because everyone knew that they had been taught little...

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