Engineering & hard-science

Creating Success:

Leveraging your greatest strength and educational investment.

Here's a sad, little fact of life ... albeit, one with a silver-lining:

Intellectually, you've busted your butt amassing an enormous amount of analytic ability. You see solutions where others have trouble even recognizing a problem.You realize that other folk don't think the same way as you, but sometimes they don't seem to think at all. What gets really frustrating, is having your suggestions ignored. Were you to take it all seriously, you might well develop a negative attitude. <snicker>


No, that's not intended to be nor should it be construed as a frivolous question. Business demands high-order problem solving ability; you have that.

More importantly, business success demands problem recognition, a far more rare ability. Beyond these two abilities, lies the third and most important ability — to be able to communicate what you know ... and to get others (read: your boss) to act on it.

The quickest route up the organizational ladder is via making your boss (and your boss's boss, etc.) look good. Plus, as you establish yourself as THE person "to get the job done," you'll find yourself leading important presentations.

Quick career strategy sidebar. Actual defensible, scientific studies have established that speaking in public is one of our two* most deeply seated fears. Get over it! If you're giving a presentation, you're, almost assuredly, the lowest ranking soul in the room. Work it for all that's it's worth; it's your chance to shine.

BTW, don't "write a mystery," lead with your "best shot." If the head-honcho in attendence vocally "buys" your argument at that point, you've won. Point, game, set, & match. Who's likely to question the leader's choice? Oh, and take your cue from successful salesfolk: Selling starts when the answer's, "no"; stop talking when the answer's, "yes."

The REAL question, of course, is how do you get comfortable in making these sorts of presentations? More about that in a minute.



* The other is appearing naked in public.


Okay, been there, done that. (Former scientist — flight mechanics — arriving on Wall Street via an MBA in 1970.) So, what can be done about it? Read on.

Successfully (4.85/5.0 eval) teaching well over 2,000 engineers and hard-science-types seeking MBA's/EMBA's, suggests YOU don't learn the way most people do. (Oh, really?) Worse, here's the "sad" part, you tend to not communicate in ways which "others" are able to grasp. Here's the silver lining (or, gold, if you prefer).

You can learn to communicate in a new and different way. To do so, will require that you come to understand (REALLY understand) what motivates the entire management chain of command. You must capitalize upon your analytical ability. You could suffer through a traditional MBA, you'd be forced to learn the way the general population does AND you'd be subjected to a great deal of utterly irrelevant minutia. Worse, you'd find that a great deal of each course proves repetitive. Worst, you'd find that there is no overarching framework for the study. (Imagine spending a semester on div, grad, curl, without, say, mention of electrostatics.)

As with many "problems," once identified, they can be readily resolved. In the real-world for instance, accounting, finance, and economics (most notably, micro-economics) form a seamless whole. However, "publish or perish" demands dictate that academics specialize in, say, one of these areas. That would be bad enough, but the truth is that the typical financial accounting prof cannot communicate with a managerial accounting prof.

Since most MBA students are mathematically illiterate, most courses are grossly dumbed-down to accommodate this "special" learning "ability." Moreover, as most prof's and students are neither able to nor wish to cope with serious analytical methods, all courses are taught akin to biology and other soft-sciences: Rote taxonomy. Zip, there's goes the engineer's greatest advantage.

Starting to grasp the problem ... and the silver-lining? With relatively brief but intensive study, an engineer can expect to emerge as a virtually different genus.

Your present writer and dutiful servant gave his first lecture — applied calculus — for a very prominent Philadelphia-based university's MBA program in September 1968. The lecture morphed into a series; the series culminated in an offer of faculty appointment. Instead, your then scientist now scribe, chose to retread via an MBA for a career in international finance reaching CEO via CFO ... retiring at 41. Along the way, said scribe spent a decade on two "name" graduate B'School faculties as a night-job. More latterly he taught, full-time, for 8 semesters and then fled academia.