Engineers have been advised to prepare themselves for managerial positions by ensuring they acquire managerial expertise after they have mastered their various technical skills; while a call has also been made for the removal of courses not relevant to engineering from engineering curriculum. This is conclusion from the recent professional engagement coordinated on EngiCom administered “Mentored by Mentors”: A platform where young and senior engineers interact to advance professional development and knowledge exchange.

Opening the subject is Engr Morufdeen Oyeneye who advocated the direct inclusion of management programmes in engineering curriculum at undergraduate level in a bid to prepare the undergraduate engineers for management adventure. Isqil Najim, and other contributors, however observed that there have been cases of inclusion of management courses at marginal level by some tertiary institutions in the country.

Engr. Dr. Wilson Ali, FNSE, MD Zaaptron Energy Company Limited poised a question to younger engineers: “Let’s assume there is vacancy in a manufacturing firm. Two people are eminently qualified to contest for the seat, one, a chief engineer and the second, a financial controller: Who would you recommend to for the coveted seat and why?”

Various rejoinders are presented one of which was from a young mechanical engineer, Michael Yahayah who pointed out that “The chief Engineer and financial Control have different roles they play in a manufacturing firm. A financial controller has to do with managing of finance while the chief engineer maintains and controls machines and equipment. The chief Engineer has to do with TPM while the Financial Control will do with TQM. Both of them have different functions in a manufacturing firm.”

Another Engineer Ismail Olanrewaju Abdulazeez who works for International Auto manufacturing firm said neither of the two will be his choice. He reasoned that “since it is a manufacturing firm, a supply chain professional is the best option.” According to him, “the chief engineer and the financial controller have their limitations in the overall function of a manufacturing firm. ”

Engr Wilson Ali FNSE said that. “The basic training of the financial controller positions him/her to easily step into that role. But an engineer with good exposure and training/education in management with tinge of accounting knowledge would be more suited for the role.” He emphasized that: ” as an engineer, you need further training in these areas that renders you complete professional and business administrator. This is the main reason senior engineers lose out when it gets to appointment of the next CEO. In some cases, a junior would be appointed ahead of the engineer.”

Engr Olasunkanmi Olaigbe, Quality Engineer for Centrica Business Solutions agreed that there is need to “encourage ourselves (engineers) to acquire relevant qualifications especially relating to Management roles to make us A COMPETENT ENGINEER in all areas of our career adventure. As individual, if we are aiming for the peak in a career path in an organization and to be relevant in all sectors of decision making, we need to personally take BOLD STEPS to acquire knowledge, experience, intellectual mixing and education upgrade with real time business management.
Engr Morufdeen Oyeneye reasoned that since management involves products, systems, products and people, engineers are still into management regardless of their technical works. ”If you lack management skills, you can’t manage your machines and equipment well. The efficient performance of your machines/equipment still depends on your management skills.” He said

Engr Andrew Ezekwe on his part added that “Engineers need to be more humane in management; which is an human social intercourse with human needs and wants greared towards demand and supply that comes with micro and macro economic and management.”

Engr Chukwunonso Osakwe, a young entrepreneur founder of Osnon Technologies Ltd and Quadcycle Ltd, in his own contributions however said that “Competent Engineer stays and remains a competent engineer. Competent engineer with MBA or similar management training rises to becomes a Manager or CEO of a company”

Engr Okereke Anyaora, observed that : “Engineering management is very good nevertheless, but you have to ask: What is our level of development in Nigeria. What level of skill do those that are Front-End engineering practice possess?” he asked. Further he said “I believe that Nigerian engineers, for the time being, need to increase their skill levels to the levels that they can compete favourably in the present technology-and innovation-driven world. When we must have attained such levels, then we could consider “managing” the utilization of such skills for the greater benefit of all.”

Dr. Wilson Ali, having gone through various contributions advised: “Having the relevant trainings both technical, management/ executive education makes things easy for the board in your favour. At the same token, being very adept in your engineering without the requisite management skills equally makes things easy for the board-,they over look and move on to the next person.”

“I am by no means suggesting this does it all, but they are crucial. Of course issue of relationship management integrity, negotiation skills, written and spoken communication skills, knowledge of market and internal politics too play out in selection processes. The point here, make things easy for whoever wants to help you!!! “He concluded

Meanwhile, Engr Dr Kadiri Kamoru, HOD Electrical Engineering at Offa Federal Polytechnic, and a former ASUP Chairman recommended that “Courses that are not relevant in engineering must be phased out such as citizenship, English up to four hundred level in the polytechnic, ordinary math should be replaced with engineering math, in a bid to enable engineers in training focus on the career basis.

Fresh graduates are however advised to focus more on processes, systems, machines, equipment etc. As Management positions for engineers are top level positions in an organogram of management and attained after you may have undergone the career path in processes, systems, machines and equipment.

For more information about Mentored by Mentors, contact Isqil Najim on twitter @isqilnajim or Dr Lasisi Lawal @lawal_lasisi1

Report compiled by Isqil Najim

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