From Engineer to Manager: How to Cope With Promotion

Swapping technical expertise for management skills can be difficult

3 min read
From Engineer to Manager: How to Cope With Promotion
Photo: Marcelo Santos/Getty Images

Being offered a promotion is typically cause for celebration. Apart from higher pay and maybe a better parking spot, it is a recognition of one’s skill and dedication. But a promotion can bring its own headaches—especially for engineers. In addition to universal challenges, such as when you become the boss of friends (or rivals), the very skills that land an engineer the promotion may become a stumbling block in the new position.

Engineers pride themselves on the depth of their detailed technical expertise, and they distinguish themselves on the strength of the performance of the things they create. Once you become a manager, however, so-called soft skills become essential. You are evaluated in large part on the performance and creations of others. You will find yourself having to restrain yourself from wading in and fixing a problem that rightly belongs to a subordinate. And then there’s the flip side of that last problem—having to accept that sooner or later your technical knowledge of some domain will be outstripped by someone working under you.

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Asad Madni and the Life-Saving Sensor

His pivot from defense helped a tiny tuning-fork prevent SUV rollovers and plane crashes

11 min read
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Asad Madni and the Life-Saving Sensor

In 1992, Asad M. Madni sat at the helm of BEI Sensors and Controls, overseeing a product line that included a variety of sensor and inertial-navigation devices, but its customers were less varied—mainly, the aerospace and defense electronics industries.

And he had a problem.

The Cold War had ended, crashing the U.S. defense industry. And business wasn’t going to come back anytime soon. BEI needed to identify and capture new customers—and quickly.

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