Engineers have some of the most sought after skills in the world today. You could say they are necessary, most influential actors in our global society. Their contributions do not go undervalued seeing as though they place in the top 5 highest paying jobs of 2016.
However, engineering experts themselves admit that they are missing some necessary skills that their tertiary education and work experience didn't prepare them for.
Professor Lawrence Susskind, a professor at MIT in the Urban Planning sector and the head of environmental policy and planning group, wrote an article entitled The Key to Success: Negotiating 101 for Engineers, published by TheEngineer.
He writes, "It's one thing to come up with an innovative idea; it's another to take that idea to the market." Susskind says there is a typical engineering logic that gets in the way of marketing and maintains that engineers repeat the same mistakes every time they negotiate with potential investors and partners.
Susskind's list of how to avoid the mistakes of bad negotiation is as follows:
- Ego and emotion: When negotiations begin, it's vital to leave emotions out of it.
- Dealing with Uncertainty: When entering a negotation, it's key for inventors and innovators to be ready with contingent proposals that will minimse the risk to their investors.
- Handling technical complexity: It may be necessary for both sides to engage in joint fact finding to ensure that they have shared understanding grounded in mutually acceptable data.
- Building Trust and Working Relationships: To maintain good working relationships, sucessful negotiators know how to say what they mean and mean what they say.
Negotiation is not the only skill that engineers should add to their arsenal of skills, it seems. The Dean of Engineering at the Engineering Institute of Technology (EIT), Steve Mackay, also highlighted what skills - as basic as they might be - engineers could become proficient in to ensure engineering success.
In the sixteenth episode of Mackay's YouTube series, Engineering News Network (ENN), he underlines some key non-engineering skills engineers can quite easily pick up. Mackay speaks of a touch-typing course he took forty-two years ago, that was one of the most fantastic skills he ever picked up. The other skills he encourages, are the following:
- Time management: "Someone mentioned to me the other day that time is probably the greatest thing we don't have much of. Money we can get, time we cant.
- Basic finance and bookkeeping: "It's horrific how many engineers are in their 50s and 60s and they have no money because they didn't do any management of their finances when they were in their 20s
- How to negotiate effectively: "The ability to negotiate for anything you want to buy. A car, an item for your house or your factory or your shop.
- Write simply and decisively: Don't use big words when you write reports, make it simple and readable
- Presentations: How to present powerfully and simply. Don't use powerpoints with glitzy animations. Try to avoid being lost in powerpoint
- Capture with photographs: Taking photographs and looking at basic skills with lighting and framing...very important.
- Networking: All the time, all day, everyday. Keep up with what's going on in the job market, what's going on everywhere. Networking will keep you employed for the rest of your life.
Networking and negotiating are key areas that seem to be an area of concern to engineers around the world and is something that experts are encouraging engineers to perfect. Even the most basic of skills that could have gone unlearned during high school or tertiary education expansion can be beneficial to engineers, according to the engineering opinion makers.