Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Engineers do marketing

Engineers also work successfully in many other careers ... marketing is one of them.

An online article asks the question, "what makes a large chunk of top engineers take up jobs on Wall Street (sales and trading, quant etc) rather than start ups, or companies like Google, Microsoft etc."  The responses are many, but a common theme is that engineering skills are both appreciated and better rewarded outside the engineering business than in it. The graduate engineer's own quantitative abilities don't take long to figure out where the better rewards can be found. Not all work as quants on Wall Street however,  some have also moved into marketing roles where the analytic and quantitive approach of engineering works so well. Why is this?

Wikipedia describes engineering like this, "Engineering is the application of scientific, economic, social, and practical knowledge in order to design, build, and maintain structures, machines, devices, systems, materials and processes. It may encompass using insights to conceive, model and scale an appropriate solution to a problem or objective. The discipline of engineering is extremely broad, and encompasses a range of more specialized fields of engineering each with a more specific emphasis on particular areas of technology and types of application." 

My own transition from engineering apprentice to a marketing role was informed by practical  experience of engineering on the shop floor and in the laboratory. My employers offered experience in the many departments that a major British electrical manufacturing company then operated, including manufacturing, research, even HR or Personnel as it was then known. It didn't take long to notice that the people who actually set the agenda were the bright young men from head office, the product managers. And they worked in the marketing department. On graduation I worked for just a few weeks more back in the research laboratories before being recruited as an assistant product manager located in the company's head office in London's West End. I exchanged my white lab coat for a suit, enrolled on marketing and management courses and learned the job of new product development under the guidance of experienced, senior product managers. In fact my move from engineering to marketing was similar to most of my colleagues who also had the same grounding in the methods, analysis and planning of engineering . A key role was researching and developing the brief for new products, getting the financial backing and resources allocated by the board and progressing new products through R&D, testing, into manufacture, into stock, training the sales force and a marketing launch. The engineering background proved invaluable and something the new business graduates that had tentatively begun to appear in the department couldn't comprehend or manage. Simply knowing the theory of marketing was insufficient. 

That grounding in engineering philosophy is at the heart of the ethos of our own marketing company today,  embracing not just the initial research and planning but continuing through into implementation and post campaign analysis.  

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