on September 20th, 2012

Dear Colleagues

Companies today are rapidly reducing tangible assets – buildings, machines and inevitably, people such as high cost engineering staff. And we know that there is a massive amount of outsourcing going on meaning jobs go elsewhere. This is all happening today and will eventually impact on you.

Companies Fail
The days of expecting a job for 30 years, say, from a company are rapidly diminishing. I clearly remember starting out in the diamond mining business as a junior engineer with thousands of other highly skilled engineering professionals working for this company. It had been around for over a hundred years. Today it is a poor shadow of itself with only a tiny number of engineers and technicians working there now. An unbelievable situation when one considers how dynamic and profitable it was thirty years ago.

Create a Job Today
We thus need to create these jobs dynamically ourselves. And employ others. Engineering professionals have the innate technical prowess to make things. Add in creativity to the mix and an understanding of what the market wants and you could have a winning product or service.

Become an Engineer-Entrepreneur
The winners are individuals such as Engineer-Entrepreneurs and companies that come up with new products and services which the global community wants. And keep coming up with new products. Otherwise they also die.

We thus need the engineer-entrepreneur to conceptualise and design new products and services. Working out what to invent/why it should be invented – who is the market and how to make the whole process economically viable and sustainable.

This applies to you whether you are working for another company or for yourself. Seek out opportunities to innovate and create new products and services. In this way; you can extend the life of your company and your career.

Start-ups and Small Business are different
As an engineer-entrepreneur, there is a chasm between successfully operating a start-up company and a small business. Although business schools tend to gloss over the differences and treat both as the same. But they are totally different animals. One key difference is that a start-up company often has a brilliant product which has incredible possibilities; but no actual market (at present). Your job with a start-up is to get the product to market as quickly as possible.

Innovation and Creativity are a must
Perhaps, the most valuable ingredient of the engineer-entrepreneur is innovation and creativity.

Engineering professionals also have to be ferociously self-sufficient, self sustaining and life long learners responsible for staying in business. And prepared to learn from their customers in optimising their creations so that they are economically viable. Inevitably, they must be prepared to have a high threshold of tolerance to repeated failure and the ability to persist to success.

And above all - you have to believe in yourself.

Thanks to Dr Mark Polczynski for his article on The Engineer Entrepreneur (www.technologyforge.net/mark.polczynski).

As George Lois points out: Creativity can solve almost any problem. The creative act, the defeat of habit by originality, overcomes everything.

Yours in engineering learning


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