Monday, 19 December 2011

In Response to "The Engineering Route to Accounting"

A clever blogger I follow (John Cook) posted this:

Regarding "The Engineering Route to Accounting". The guts of the post is probably summarised by the sentence "Many people find themselves approving expense reports for people who do the work they enjoy doing, or used to enjoy doing. [i.e. engineering]".

I responded, and thought I may as well repost as I spent a fair bit of time composing it! As follows:

OK, I _somewhat_ agree that “by the time you have your degree, you have 5–10 years to go before, if you have any ambition, you end up a manager of some kind” – I would swap the word “any” for “a good amount of”, and I would add to the word “ambition” the words “competence”, “enthusiasm”, “empathy”, “confidence”, “integrity”, etc,. Not everyone is asked to lead, or manage.

I do not agree that “you don’t get to build anything, technicians do that … you only approve their expense reports …”. I think as a manager/leader, you are still building things, maybe just not in the same way an engineer would. Would Steve Jobs say he didn’t build the iPhone? Would Bill Gates say he didn’t build the Microsoft Corporation?


As an afterthought to this response I wrote:

... – my comment may come across as quite complacent.

So I should say that I agree leadership/management is not for everyone; it can be a burden, and it can be misused terribly.

I think your list of “What can you do if you want to avoid going into management/accounting?” is pretty spot-on John, nice one.

I hope if you stumble across this and have made the transition from engineering to management/leadership, that you find some of this useful.

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