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Putting MBA to work in engineering-oriented corporate culture

I have an extensive engineering background (20 years) and an MBA from 1995. I am working for a large company that is known for employing a lot of engineers. (The saying is a dime a dozen.) I feel I am not using my business education wisely and -- as with many things -- if you don't use it you lose it. How can I position myself to use my MBA? I have an interest in a lot of different subjects (storage, application development, deployment, etc.), but am not an expert in any of them. I guess I tend to be a generalist. Can you help?

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Have you ever considered moving into a management track? Your extensive technical history teamed with your education should position you well for a move in this direction. In a management role, being well-rounded or more of a "generalist" can actually be to your advantage.

Your first step should be to share your career goals with your current management. They can help you start the process by guiding you in the appropriate direction. Take the lead on high-profile projects and start to build experience leading people.

Maybe even more important to a manager's success than the advanced knowledge and skills you already posses are "soft" skills such as communication, delegation, project management and motivation. In a recent survey developed by RHI Consulting, a vast majority of CIOs polled cited strong interpersonal abilities as the most important quality for reaching management levels. Invest some of your time strengthening these elements through classes, books and practice and you'll be on your way to making the most of your well-developed skills -- both technical and business.


This was first published in February 2001

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