We are almost half way through the year. Hopefully you are one of the 14% who keep your New Year's resolutions especially in terms of your engineering career ? Some suggestions below from those who have achieved success in their career. Peter Drucker, the famous management guru, remarked that first of all one has to set one's vision of one’s career to higher sights and then commit to achieving this.

Some suggestions to boost your engineering career today:

  • Make sure you have a business and life plan which is strategic in nature and long term. Nothing particularly detailed - just short and to the point. Where do you want to be personally and professionally in a year's time? A plan certainly doesn't have to be solely about money. If it is, it is unlikely to be very successful. But it has to be aligned with your interests and what you are capable of. And take into account what you are currently doing. If you are in a hut somewhere in the middle of the Great Sandy Desert working as a consultant for a pittance on a mine; you may need to rethink your situation. Or working in some remote location doing very basic work but earning good money but which is actually degrading your engineering skills you may also need to wonder where you will be in a few years time. Write your plan down and refer to it on  a daily basis
  • Keep your skills sharp and current. This doesn't mean that you have to suddenly go on a deluge of training courses or a Master degree. Informal learning can be even more powerful than a training class - where you learn from a highly experienced mentor or trusted colleague. Keep an eye on what is required in terms of skills. This is a constantly shifting and changing environment. Currently certain engineering professionals are in ferocious demand; others not so
  • Deliver real results to your organisation and ensure (modestly) that they are aware of this. Working long hours is not really the only way of demonstrating real results. This is about completing projects successfully to a budget. Against all sorts of obstacles. Persistence and innovative thinking are keys here. And a touch of lateral thinking for those enormously thorny problems
  • Communicate well in terms of writing and talking to your peers, clients and suppliers. Email is not a particularly effective way of communicating (although highly convenient)
  • Review your progress and consider feedback from others. This can help you sharpen your act. Not always pleasant to hear negative comments. But that is life. Watch out for your subordinates giving you glowing comments on every occasion. They may be “yes (wo)men”
  • Give credit where it is due. Acknowledge the success of others and enthusiastically  celebrate others successes. They will respect and support you with your successes
  • Be passionate, enthusiastic and have a positive attitude. Especially when the chips are down. Avoid the blame game. Apart from identifying ways of improving things. Avoid anger and negativity wherever possible. Conflict is generally a dead end and is best to be avoided with a win-win solution

I always like this quotation from Louis Nizer:
A man who works with his hands is a laborer; a man who works with his hands and his brain is a craftsman; but a man who works with his hands and his brain and his heart is an artist.

Yours in engineering learning

Steve