I was reading an article from Harvard Business Review (HBR), Best-Performing CEOs in the World. They benchmarked CEOs based on data like increases in shareholder return and market capitalization. They also looked at the long term vision, considering the performance of CEOs over their entire tenure. One interesting result from their report was that 24 out of the top 100 CEOs in the world are engineers. In fact, on the top of their list was Jeffrey Bezos of Amazon, an engineer who does not even have an MBA.
What makes an engineering education useful to people leading a business?
“Studying engineering gives someone a practical, pragmatic orientation,” says Nitin Nohria, the dean of Harvard Business School, who holds an undergraduate degree in chemical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay.
“Engineering is about what works, and it breeds in you an ethos of building things that work—whether it’s a machine or a structure or an organization. Engineering also teaches you to try to do things efficiently and eloquently, with reliable outcomes, and with a margin of safety. It makes you think about costs versus performance. These are principles that can be deeply important when you think about organizations.”
#1 - Analytical Thinking
Engineers, in general, are found to be good at attention to detail, problem-solving, numeracy, risk management and analysis. However, many may lack emotional intelligence and the necessary leadership, people management, and communication abilities – soft skills which can be addressed by training to assist their transition into the management arena. Engineering skills include analytical thinking that, at the CEO level, allows for better informed decision making.
#2 - Getting Things Done & Solve Problems
Engineers tend to be more organized and logical, considering the full consequences of a decision before making a commitment. As soon as they are committed, they're there till the end. They will ensure to find a way to solve the problems and get things done. They do not get disappointed with office political impediments because they are committed to the bigger picture that benefits most of employees.
#3 - Build Things & Set Vision
In spite of engineering’s long and glorious history – think Thomas Edison, John Frank Stevens, Henry Ford, and Herbert Hoover – there seems to have been stereotypical image problems associated with the profession. Engineers and engineerings are designed to know how to build things and make them work. Engineers can make a great team, organization, culture and product that increases revenue, reduce employee turnover rate and builds up a better self-esteem for all team members. Engineers are the best members in any company that can visualize a vision and make it come true.
But, not all engineers are about to be executives. Many talented engineers have no interest in leadership position. This is not necessarily a bad thing given the high proportion of corporate psychopaths in the C-Suite. Most of engineers’ characteristics don’t match in the spectrum of psychopathic tendencies. Until they become CEOs at least. We will observe a future that more and more engineers are taking over businesses. #BigIdeas2016