• Question: How important is understanding business to being successful as an engineer ?

    Asked by manutd to Becky, Carrie, Kelly, Robin, Usaid on 16 Mar 2012.
    • Photo: Usaid Rauf

      Usaid Rauf answered on 16 Mar 2012:

      I think business is important to understand for an engineer, I mean anything we decide to produce has to generate a profit or we won’t find investors to help pay for all of our setup costs. My course at university had two modules on business topics and I did learn about things like the difference between a need and want, for example.

      I was really annoyed when Lord Alan Sugar made some negative comments about engineers in business; take a look at the following article by James Dyson for a better picture: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jun/19/james-dyson-alan-sugar-engineers

    • Photo: Robin Stafford Allen

      Robin Stafford Allen answered on 16 Mar 2012:

      An understanding of business is vital if you are going into business management. If you are really keen on engineering, you can concentrate on becoming a specialist in stress analysis or whatever, and leave the managment to others. This is totally valid, and you can be a very very successful and productive engineer, but does usually mean that you have to be content to remain in the lower levels of the company, with the lower level of pay.
      So it helps if you want to get higher in companies, or run your own company. Regards Robin

    • Photo: Caroline Roberts Haritonov

      Caroline Roberts Haritonov answered on 19 Mar 2012:

      I think it is essential for engineers to have some understanding of business. So many decisions in industry are driven by business than by technology and we need to be able to communicate the technology in business terms. FOr the work I do in developing the reliability of equipment and technology it is essenital to undertstand the impact on my business and on my client’s business of the equipment not being reliable. In my bachelor of engineering degree, we covered business subjects as a small part of the syllabus. Then when I did my doctorate, I did an engineering doctorate which included a large part of an MBA, and the research for my doctorate was intended to then be supported with a business case.

    • Photo: Becky Selwyn

      Becky Selwyn answered on 19 Mar 2012:

      I did Business Studies at GCSE and then each year at uni we had to do a course about different aspects of business – some of the projects involved putting together business plans (I think most engineering courses have some units on business skills now). I don’t use much of this knowledge now, but if I work in industry at some point, I know it will be useful to have some background knowledge of how businesses work.