1 April 2005
To market, to market: Hope for engineers
By Ellen Fussell
We've all heard and read about the new engineer. We know engineers of the future will need to combine their technical expertise with professional, customer-oriented marketing traits if they want to boost their careers. Whether you're more technical or customer oriented, it's the combination of the two and the ability to transition into a more all-encompassing professional that will take you to new heights.
Richard Gotch, a former IMechE research prize winner in metallurgy was fascinated by technology and frustrated few innovations made it to market. That's why he chose to use his engineering skills in a more lucrative career as a trainee writer with a technical publishing company. Today, Gotch is managing director of Market Engineering, a European communications agency for the automotive and technology industry.
"I left mainstream engineering due to frustration with the profession's lack of commercial perspective," Gotch said. "Working at the UK Atomic Energy Authority was a wonderful experience, but it was like a traditional gentleman's club. Even my research at Brunel University, which showed substantial commercial benefits for little investment, was showing little enthusiasm amongst potential industrial sponsors." Since Gotch was already fascinated by business and marketing, taking the step to the other side of the fence was an easy decision to make. "It kept me in touch with technology, yet allowed me to help companies use their technical capability to strengthen their business," he said.
Raju Gavurla had a similar idea. Having held sales, systems, and project management engineering positions with the Department of Defense, utility, pulp and paper, chemical, and pharmaceutical industries, he now works as a speaker and owner of his own business development and growth consultant company, LiiiVEN!. His company serves businesses that want a simplified approach to motivation, winning, and growth, he said. Gavurla based the company's name on the concept that "when we feel good and liven it up, we can do more good" through integrity, involvement, and imagination.
Gavurla said an engineer doesn't need to be working for a company to continue learning on his own or to position himself for the next job. "I recommend reading and attending seminars. I do less distributed control systems (DCS) configuration than I used to and read more to keep abreast of the engineering expertise I want to maintain and expand," he said. "Your self worth is tremendous if you'll take spirit-enhancing action to generate spirit-enhancing results."
Training is key
Even if you know you want a change and have the gumption to do it, that doesn't necessarily mean you can just pick up and start a new career. Gotch said the most important thing is to get proper training. "Engineers naturally feel they can do most things just through the amazing power of their minds," he said. "But it's wrong to assume we can do other people's jobs without the specialist training they have received. Marketing is not entirely intuitive, and engineers in marketing really should have marketing training to the same level that would be expected in any other profession."
Some of the engineers' tacit tools can help in the transition, though. "The analytical approach we are taught is highly relevant, as are the skills in project management and report writing," Gotch said. "It's also fascinating, challenging, and rewarding. But do get good training, to post-graduate level if possible, and then keep the brain fizzing with new ideas through continuous professional development."
What makes a professional?
By Raju Gavurla
The past five years provided success for some engineers' careers. However, some people have lost most of their retirement savings, we've seen quality job opportunities decreasing, and the need for profits has many projects being partially or wholly completed overseas. In tough times, look to fundamentals to help right the path. One fundamental factor more prevalent in daily dialogue and business is defining the qualities of a professional.
Trustworthiness is the first quality I think of when defining a true professional. Being trustworthy will take you a long way in continuing your success. People that associate with each other on a high trust level know how to talk to one another and provide reasons the service they are representing can be beneficial. Knowing how to talk to one another is more than mannerisms. It's the ability to motivate one another to create positive results. Your involvement and input in your company, associations, volunteerism, charity work, and political ideas help develop trust. This happens not necessarily because two people agree on an issue but because somewhere on this path a common trust level evolves and continues to evolve as you share experiences. When trust is present, people will buy from you or recommend your service.
Second, be helpful. Negotiating is a great tool to show your willingness to help. However, be sure you negotiate fairly. Don't provide an offer and service to someone unless they can provide valid reasons they need it. Putting together goals for your client is a great way to validate the value of your service. Be patient, ask questions to understand, have service options, and close win-win deals.
Finally, a professional must care. Caring shows a desire to gain a better understanding of a customer's current scenario and what opportunities exist for you. It is the quality that says no matter how much we compete, in certain circumstances, we are united.
Behind the Byline
Raju Gavurla is president of LiiiVEN, Inc., a motivational company to help professionals achieve personal goals.
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