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Do engineers need an MBA?

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any1
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re: Do engineers need an MBA?
any1   9/17/2012 5:41:45 PM
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I agree with the sentiment that if your employer is willing to pay for it, then it would be worthwhile. That's assuming your main career objective is to climb the management ladder. Otherwise I would skip it.

WKetel
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WKetel   9/22/2012 1:52:46 AM
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What I have observed over the years seems to show that getting an MBA requires a partial lobotomy, which would certainly impair an engineering career. But when I was unemployed I borrowed sets of textbooks from several folks who had gotten the degree. I studied the parts about business plans and the various methods of management and keeping a business current. I did not study that accounting stuff because I don't enjoy accounting at all. I am already a good writer and communicator, so I did not concentrate on that part. For presentation skills, I found a much more useful course in showmanship, which was offered at a "clown college", of all places. That course was full of useful information about getting and holding people's attention, and also about appearing to be a "class act", and it was a whole lot cheaper than a university class. Also, the presentation was much more interesting.

C VanDorne
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re: Do engineers need an MBA?
C VanDorne   9/24/2012 2:16:38 PM
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"For presentation skills, I found a much more useful course in showmanship...clown college." -Now that's maybe the most interesting thing in this entire trail because it presents a low-cost work-around to getting an "effective MBA". And I'd bet that it carries some weight in an interview. I'll offer another one: join an MLM - Amway, ACN, etc. It doesn't matter which one. Once you experience the interaction you'll get from your neighbors and lifelong friends after asking them for that initial "investment" into your new world-beating business opportunity, you'll have learned all you need to know about human nature. And success in business is all about learning how to quickly asses, time and capitalize on human behavior.

Jose_engineer
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Jose_engineer   12/5/2012 9:22:19 PM
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As I understant it, you are saying that an MBA 'is' useful, but you can learn the material on your own. Some engineers can pickup the skills needed to become an engineer without going to engineering school......

rob18767
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re: Do engineers need an MBA?
rob18767   9/17/2012 7:36:20 PM
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Most people with MBAs need more engineering experience in my opinion.

EREBUS0
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re: Do engineers need an MBA?
EREBUS0   9/17/2012 7:55:57 PM
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For engineers transitioning into management, some only need the basics of business practices to succeed. Knowledge and good communication skills are much more important than a lot of business theory. If an engineer wants to start a company, then they need to partner with someone with a good business background. I would only consider an MBA if there were specific business opportunities that rewarded the effort. From what I have seen, an engineer with an MBA is not that valuable unless they the solid engineering background and the skills I discussed earlier. Just my opinion.

chipmonk0
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re: Do engineers need an MBA?
chipmonk0   9/18/2012 12:11:35 AM
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Engineers dealing with hardware and manufacturing are held back by the fact that they require a lot of investment to get to market and have to often depend on a large number of people to get the product out of the door. This is where even non-technical MBAs & bean counters can have an upper hand over Sr.Engneer. So it would make sense for Techies in these areas to arm themselves with a MBA just to stay competitive. But for those in Design, Simulation, Software a MBA is not all that critical unless they want to manage a large Team or get into the start up mode..

JeffL_2
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re: Do engineers need an MBA?
JeffL_2   9/18/2012 12:45:23 PM
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OK I'll admit my perspective on this may be a bit extreme, but I really think an engineer who gets an MBA is essentially terminating one career in order to start at the very bottom in a new one. God knows I've "earned" this perspective though, spending countless hours either in meetings or private conversations with my manager(s) in vain trying to get allocations for tools and equipment that I considered essential to get the productivity of our group up to somewhere CLOSE to what would be necessary to meet the overly ambitious project schedule that was already "cast in stone", THEN practically getting dared to try and meet it anyway! I'm old enough to remember when there was actually a "tech career track", heck I was even around when we had "staff engineers" who were considered valuable enough that they'd actually be "kept around" even while they didn't have a "primary project" to charge time against. The current feeling that engineers and managers "play for competing teams" is actually NOT contributing to bottom-line productivity, but considering the extent to which it's been adopted you'd think it was always like this. (And I'm sure a lot of "line managers" feel pretty alienated themselves from the guys in the C-suite.) Also I've seen lots of places where the "transition" (from engineer to manager) is made even more difficult to discourage "career experimenting" and make entry-level management even harder to get into. I'd be interested to hear about different perspectives because I'm sure some of you will just disregard my comments as "terminally cynical" but I assure you they're at least legitimate.

Dave Callaghan
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Dave Callaghan   9/27/2012 1:51:31 PM
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A quick scan through the comments and I correlate most closely with your thoughts Jeff. The great divide between finance/business/sales and technical/engineering is getting worse. Often leading to shameless exploitation of good quality technical people who have dedicated their working lives to technical excellence. They are treated as completely and arbitrarily expendible. Business success is paying the price for this short-sighted attitude.

agk
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re: Do engineers need an MBA?
agk   9/18/2012 1:44:48 PM
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Knowledge is ocean.Doing MBA will assist to strengthen their carrier.For example a Purchase head of an engineering company can utilize his engineering and business studies effectively.They can easily pick up and economize their company. A sales manager ,where as needs more technical strength with a good business approach.So MBA is a must, for those who are technically strong and this can be done in part time. Where as non engineering companies they do not need Engineering MBA's unless other wise they dont mind employing engineering MBA's because of their higher IQ levels.

Bert22306
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re: Do engineers need an MBA?
Bert22306   9/18/2012 6:53:36 PM
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I used to hear this too, about getting an MBA. However, going on the assumption that earning this MBA would be at the expense of some decent engineering graduate courses, after many years in engineering, I say nuts to that idea. Getting an MBA is essentially straying off course. Moving into management, from engineering, is also straying off course. Since there are many more people "qualified" to become managers, than to be productive and well educated engineers, the simple truth (I've observed) is that managers are now far more expendable than real engineers. In this economy, straying off course for engineers is a mistake. Simple as that.

Mr Ness
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Mr Ness   9/19/2012 8:44:46 AM
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MBA's are taught how talk a great fight in my experience. The grand masters of death by powerpoint and cheesy buzzwords. Does it add value?

Mr Ness
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Mr Ness   9/19/2012 8:53:41 AM
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"adding value" WOW I must have an MBA - better get out of design and into management quick

mrwood
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mrwood   9/19/2012 11:09:51 AM
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The management view of a 40 or 50 year old engineer is that they have failed in their careers. NOTHING could be farther from the truth. Yet it is this fear of appearing to have failed drives far too many good working engineers into management just so they can feed, clothe and house their families. I have seen this many times over the past 30+ years. Companies tout a dual career path yet put no effort or resources into the engineering leg of that path so the path fizzles out at a modest senior level. Management makes no effort to identify, reward and keep in engineering their top engineers thereby making it look, to younger engineers, like engineering is just an entry level position for a career in management. If this mindset is to change a cultural shift must take place in the management ranks and that is unlikely to happen unless real engineers get a voice at the table. Getting an MBA does not give engineers the voice needed and is thus a monumental waste of time.

NewYankEE
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NewYankEE   9/19/2012 12:16:31 PM
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"The firm said requests from employers for candidates with an MBA as a prerequisite or a preference were relatively rare, but that despite this, perceptions about the need for an MBA among non-MBA-holder tech professionals continued to lag" Sylvie this shows the disconnection between perception and reality. Glad you're here asking us as the practitioners in addition to the recruiters who may be more salary multiplier motivated than those of us who choose to remain technical because THATS our passion. I agree with the poster who suggested one can always find a business partner or employee or advisor who brings that experience to an enterprise. Swiss army knives are lousy knives as much as engineers who go early into business concerns miss critical experience opportunities that might make or break their worth as an engineer. With every passing year I'm astounded at how much less I knew before that point and am delighted with how comfortable I am knowing my trade so much better for just sticking with it. Ladders are over rated ;-) Cheers!

bearchow
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bearchow   9/19/2012 12:56:43 PM
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Anybody knows that an MBA is essential to running a successful company or operation. The ability to spend all day staring at spreadsheets like a mouse on crack and manipulate numbers to insure company success then present them on powerpoint is what makes companies thrive. The old notion that someone needs to have a good understanding of a companies products and customers is obsolete.

JeffL_2
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re: Do engineers need an MBA?
JeffL_2   9/19/2012 1:26:53 PM
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Oh sure. What was I thinking? Your infinite wisdom is absolutely unassailable. Why bother with customers or products at all, just make all the money you could ever want with "financial engineering"! Then when everything fails go complain to your "bought-and-paid-for" congressman and DEMAND to be bailed out by John Q. Taxpayer! THAT'S where all these "money for nothing" schemes wind up, but the "perps" never seem to realize it until it's too late. Now then what were YOU thinking?

jazzmaster
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jazzmaster   9/27/2012 6:13:40 PM
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^ here is the problem, jackasses MBA/management people think they don;t have to understand a business to run it. The marriage of ignorance and arrogance has destroyed several once successful companies I have worked for. If you hire people like this, you deserve the failure coming your way.

Duane Benson
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Duane Benson   9/19/2012 2:09:51 PM
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An MBA isn't necessary to succeed in the business world, nor for an engineer moving into management. However, if an engineer does want to head in that direction, it can be very helpful. In my opinion, the best results from an MBA program come from people that already have some real-world experience. The stereotype wrap that MBAs get isn't due to the program. It's due to misuse of the knowledge, or the application of that knowledge without wisdom. Anyone that is smart, open minded, able to isolate one's biases and willing to minimize ego can benefit from and MBA program. Anyone who wants to use an MBA to "appear" smart is likely to end up being guilty of death or injury by PowerPoint.

chipmonk0
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re: Do engineers need an MBA?
chipmonk0   9/19/2012 3:58:16 PM
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We are seeing here a lot of comments by fellow Engineers. Wonder what Management types ( w/ or w/o MBAs ) think of Engr.s ? Can competent data-driven Engineers ever make a comfortable transition to MBA / Management which often requires influencing people with BS. Do poor Engineers become more successful when they ditch Engineering for Management / Sales etc. ?

Bert22306
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Bert22306   9/19/2012 8:14:30 PM
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My experience at work and with a brother-in-law has been, once an engineer goes off into the management track, he loses his edge. He can't go back. And there's more. Maybe this isn't true everywhere, but where I work, in these economic times, management ranks have been slashed far more harshly than engineering ranks. The company where I work identifies itself as "an engineering company," and evidence is they mean it. My point is, therefore, that spending your valuable education time, effort, and cost on an MBA, at least where I work, is probably not wise. Spend that effort on engineering education instead. I mean, unless you're sick of engineering or not particularly passionate about engineering. Of course, that's an entirely different matter.

jazzmaster
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jazzmaster   9/27/2012 6:21:12 PM
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On the other hand, management work is more transferable than a lot of engineering work that requires a specialty. How big is the market you want to be in, assuming you are unwilling to move? How transferable are your technical skills?

Steve5678
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Steve5678   9/19/2012 4:19:50 PM
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I think an MBA without some years of hand-on engineering experience is fraught with danger. I've had too many experiences with newbies who were put onto the fast track and sent off to business classes or school (whether or not it led to an MBA or not), and then think they can run a program. NOT!

old account Frank Eory
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old account Frank Eory   9/19/2012 8:51:39 PM
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Have perceptions changed in recent years? Not that long ago, I remember when MBAs were thought to be a dime a dozen. I guess that's because most of them were young and inexperienced "fresh outs" with starry-eyed dreams of becoming a vice president while still in their 20s. Most learned the hard way that you don't just go to college for X number of years and get dropped into a plush corner office and given responsibility over a $100M budget! If you are an established business manager with a successful track record and higher aspirations toward becoming a senior manager, then sure, go back to school to get an MBA with a concentration in Accounting or Finance or Marketing or whichever aspect of business is your passion. If you are an established engineer with no real business experience, but a strong desire to do accounting or to be a manager in the Finance organization or the Marketing organization or whatever, then sure, you can go get your MBA too, but be forewarned that your engineering degree and engineering experience don't count for that much in your new occupation. As someone else pointed out, going from engineering to management is essentially ending one career and starting another one. Asking if an engineer needs an MBA is like asking if a lawyer needs an MD degree. Well, if the lawyer is unhappy being a lawyer and would rather be a doctor then sure, go to medical school, get an MD and become a doctor -- but don't plan on being a doctor who still practices law on the side, in your spare time!

rusticsage
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rusticsage   9/20/2012 7:23:47 PM
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I have a very good friend who is a brilliant young engineer who could not only solve problems but could drive and guide teams to finish projects. He left engineering to pursue MBA at a prestigious school. His focus was clear-to be a part of a VC firm. Post MBA, he uses his engineering experience to identify products that will be successful, teams that could pull off engineering products and uses his MBA to evaluate a business case. Then there is another friend with whom i went to graduate school. At the outset, he knew he didn't want to be an engineer for life. He went on to do a general MBA and now runs engineering teams. He knows just the right amount of engineering to identify risks in projects, projects that will succeed or not and leverages that with knowledge in marketing and business development to create cases for new business and then drive those products from all angles. And then there is another friend, who did an MBA post engineering, and has no idea what to do with it and is languishing in zombie state. And another who did MBA following MD, didn't like management and went back to being a medical practioner. I am an engineer to core and a wannabe enter pruner. I wont pursue MBA but will hook on with some MBA to complement my skill set. The common thread i read-as long as you know why you are pursuing an MBA, build up skill that will be reinforced by an MBA, MBA is a great value addition. And, something not discussed here: the n/w you develop is immensely beneficial (as long as you know what you are going to do with it.

jperlick
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jperlick   9/21/2012 9:38:00 PM
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I've seen far too many MBA's screw up perfectly good companies. Few are the MBA's who really the understand product development process! Product engineering is a very expensive and difficult hobby. Engineers spend decades learning complex technologies and how they apply to their companies. MBA's learn how to count nickels. Who is better prepared to lead high tech companies? Maybe if the MBA actually understood technology, it's development and applications, they might be able to make intelligent decisions...but that seems sooo hard to find!

E.G.P.
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E.G.P.   9/21/2012 10:30:01 PM
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The real question is: of what benefit is a Master in Babboon Anatomy to engineering? It has proven to be somewhat lacking in helpfulness in the business community over the last few decades.

Robert Ramey
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Robert Ramey   9/21/2012 10:42:05 PM
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The real question is: What do you want to do: Manage something or Build something. It's A different job and different career. Pick your poison. Many people can actually be more useful spending their time supporting the process by dealing with bankers, customers, other management, finance, regulators, etc, etc. than by actually designing something. And of course you get paid the most by doing the most useful thing you can. Of course this raises the question about the value of staying in a career you focused your education on when the demand for the related skills are no longer in demand. But of course this is an entirely different question.

JeffL_2
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re: Do engineers need an MBA?
JeffL_2   9/22/2012 2:18:13 PM
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Robert, there are a lot of other questions that your post brings to mind. I have seen too many situations, in my experience and others', where individual engineers would question whether their closest manager was effectively "supporting the process" as he was making it difficult to impossible to access the resources that the design engineers felt were necessary to get the project completed. It's even more distressing to see that a policy of "easy credit" for federal student loans has actually help drive UP the cost of tuition at the same time engineering jobs in this country (and you would need to continuously hold one down to pay those funds back) are so hard to find because outsourcing has been rampant without some kind of "domestic jobs policy", leading to the international salary-lowering contest known as the "race to the bottom".

JeffL_2
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JeffL_2   9/22/2012 2:18:27 PM
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But to hear the business press describe the situation, you'd think the whole purpose of the US operating this enormous higher education system is solely to educate foreign (mostly Asian of course) students, that the problem is just that we don't have enough work visas to keep them in this country once they get their advanced degrees. If you try and point out that this doesn't leave much of a chance for the US engineer, they fire back that there really AREN'T any competitive US engineers in the STEM courses because the primary and secondary education systems here are so poor, and if you stand up for the ones who managed to "make it through" anyway then YOUR problem is you're just a Neanderthal racist! Heck how is the US going to participate in the next big technology challenge (mission to Mars or whatever) if US engineers can't afford to give their children a competitive education? Yes these ARE too many questions for this entry but I'd sure like to hear some leaders (or politicians - although the progress of thee current races tends to show that perhaps the intersection of those two groups is an "empty set") begin to address at least some of them.

gatorfan
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gatorfan   9/22/2012 3:34:31 PM
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I am a 25 year career guy in Semiconductors with a BSEE and I did the "lobotomy" as some ridicule and got my MBA about 5 years ago. Most completely misunderstand what an MBA does for you. And most engineers have a complete misunderstanding of what Marketing really is, or should be. I know because I was one of those. Here are the two key lessons and what I literally had to untrain some really bad thinking from being an engineer: 1) Marketing is about discovering what people want and are willing to pay for and then aligning development to deliver it. This is why engineers hate Marketing because they think Marketing is mucking up their "baby" and Marketing loathes engineering because they don't want to listen to what a customer will pay for. 2) The real world is about decisions and tradeoffs. There are no "perfect" products and perfection is not required to make good business. As I often bemoan when engineers go into what I call hyper-optimization mode, I ask the critical question: will anyone pay extra for all that work? And that's what decisions and trade offs are all about and goes so against the grain of most engineers which is why it feels like a lobotomy. Some understand this naturally, others have to be trained. I was one of those that had to be trained and hence I recommend it but ONLY if you go into with the mind set that you will truly learn and be open to looking at the world of technology in an entirely new way. When you can do that and bring BOTH disciplines together you have something neither disciplines alone can deliver: A rationale view of how to make business by creating products that are different and worth paying for.

jazzmaster
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jazzmaster   9/27/2012 6:28:05 PM
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1) Marketing is about guessing, usually without any data, what people want and are willing to pay for and then asking for everything and the kitchen sink for unrealistically low costs. I guess it is all about perspective. Marketing is important, but form my experience, most of the people doing it aren't very good at it. They want to use a shotgun approach and cover every single thing anyone could possible want. The really good marketing people, sadly, get promoted into management :)

Dave Callaghan
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Dave Callaghan   9/28/2012 8:51:16 AM
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Gatorfan this is exactly the problem with modern business approach. Near enough is good enough we just need to make a quick profit and to hell with the consequences. When wev've wrecked this company we'll just move on to wreck some other company and when there aren't enough profitable enterprises left standing then its hat in hand to the government for a bail out and another bail out and another bail out then a monthly bail out that will continue indefinitely. Thats good business sense I suppose???

narra78
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narra78   9/22/2012 9:30:13 PM
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If an engineer uses an excel or ppt more frequently then it's time to take an MBA.

eewiz
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re: Do engineers need an MBA?
eewiz   9/24/2012 3:19:45 AM
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It all depends on where you get the MBA from.

P_brane
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P_brane   9/24/2012 4:11:57 AM
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I have hired a lot of engineering and science people over the years (with and without MBA's). Most of these people were heavily tested by the induction program and interestingly, the majority of MBA's (no correlation to the MBA school) did not do as well as they thought they would. In almost every case, they and their teams (over several years of my observation) took far longer to solve the case study problems and often solved for the wrong problems. The most common error was determining what is the real life problem that needs to be solved? They can do analysis and manipulate spreadsheets and powerpoint like wizards and would stay until 3:00 am working on a problem they started at 10:00 the day before, often jumping straight to analyse the data before thinking the overall picture through. If you haven't discovered (and can't) identify the problem that needs tackling first, in any issue,science,engineering, management or life in general then all the analysis and simulation is "sound and fury, signifying nothing", to borrow from William Shakespeare. Ultimately it is dependent on the person but over 12 years, I have seen only two who appeared to have developed "value adding" skills and knowledge that they could attribute to their MBA program. The majority were worse off for being out of the daily technical mainstream for the period of their MBA program.

prax_#1
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re: Do engineers need an MBA?
prax_#1   9/25/2012 6:51:41 PM
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How many times engineers before starting a new projects thought about the rationale for doing this project? I am sure many will agree that they did the project as their manager told them to do so. But their managers would have got this info from his boss, who is directed by a corporate team to pursue the project as the the combined belief of the strategy, finance and marketing team is that such a product would crack in the market. We, engineers arrive at the scene at the bottom of the chain and just mindlessly follow directions; however, such a mentality would be challenged in the long run. The importance of management is mostly undermined by most technical engineers as they believe that technical work and management work are completely different. I disagree to this as management forms the framework for everything. Management is a science that attempts to do normal things in a better way and it also questions why we are doing certain things the way it is currently done. I believe that having a MBA degree adds value to the engineers as the engineers can better appreciate the importance of its work in terms of revenue, risk profile and reach to the customers. I have around 8 yrs experience in consumer electronics firmware development and currently I am pursuing management at a business school. It is great conviction, I recommend engineers to pursue a management degree. It definitely adds a new perspective of looking at things and best question it answers most of times is "Why this thing is done this way".

old account Frank Eory
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old account Frank Eory   9/25/2012 10:59:18 PM
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"How many times engineers before starting a new projects thought about the rationale for doing this project?" The answer should be "every time" -- because no engineer wants to be associated with a business failure. As a working engineer, you don't necessarily need to know the marketing data, the gross margin calculation, etc. to the same level of detail as that hierarchy of leaders you mentioned -- but you do need to know it well enough to be able to recognize a product plan that has "very high risk" and probable disaster written all over it. It's your career, and nobody really cares if you designed a brilliant circuit on a product that failed miserably and cost the company lots of money. Far better to have designed a more mundane circuit on a product that made a fortune. In larger companies, you often have internal mobility and can leave a sinking ship without leaving the company. In cases where you don't have that option, there's the great big world out there of companies developing products that could use your skills & experience. I'm not suggesting that engineers should be disobedient -- simply that they should be mindful of their own careers, and that includes understanding the business they're in -- and when to run not walk away from a project that smells like failure. Sometimes that means changing jobs. If you don't do that, it's hard to imagine how can you get excited about going to work every day, when that little voice is telling you "there is no way this thing is ever going to make a profit, if it ever even makes it to production."

JeffL_2
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re: Do engineers need an MBA?
JeffL_2   9/26/2012 1:24:04 AM
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I really like the fact that you lead off a sentence with "management is a science..." because it allows me to highlight the problem here. I've now worked the majority of my career either as a software engineer or alongside them. Now lots of management textbooks will concede that a manager who makes the correct decision 55% of the time is doing an excellent job. Suppose you're participating in the design of a program that's a million lines of code. How much of your job is complete if you've written your portion of the million lines but only 55% of them are correct, how much of the program will perform correctly, how much of your bonus are you entitled to collect? But I've been continuously confronted by managers to remind me how "the manager's job is HARD and the programmer's is EASY". Not only is this (at best) NEGATIVE motivation, it treats the software people as if they're completely incapable of forming rational opinions, and why would they even hire people who they have such a low opinion of to do such demanding work, only to pretend it isn't demanding? This way they've managed to lose on all counts, yet I see the same situation over and over again...!

Bert22306
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Bert22306   9/25/2012 11:09:35 PM
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"We, engineers arrive at the scene at the bottom of the chain and just mindlessly follow directions;" Wow, I'd say you need to change jobs! I fully concur with Frank. And it's not just about making profits on some new CE device. Not all of engineering is just making hand held toys, as seems so often to be the assumption in these discussions. Management needs to be guided by engineering every bit as much as the other way around. From the very start of any project.

abraxalito
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abraxalito   9/26/2012 1:53:47 AM
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I agree management does need to be guided by engineering but only rarely does that happen. One reason it doesn't is management and engineering speak different languages. Therefore management makes the decisions and engineering has to make do with what management decides.

Bert22306
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Bert22306   9/26/2012 6:53:26 PM
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We are probably speaking past one another, and also, personal experiences might color this too. In my experience, most innovations we create for our products, including all-new products, are the result of engineering making the proposals to our management. Engineering has to "sell" the concept to management, and get R&D funds to make it happen. Rarely, if ever, has it been the other way around. Now sure, management gets to decide whether R&D funds will be provided. But even then, if management balks, we tend to try to figure out other ways of making the update or new product a reality. Perhaps even finding other sources of funding. In my personal opinion, this is the job of engineering. Management usually doesn't have the background or interest to be able to come up with viable new ideas on products and/or techniques.

narra78
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narra78   9/25/2012 11:50:11 PM
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As a Failure Analysis Engr where we are known to be "jack of all trades" in a semiconductor industry and deals with different kinds/levels of internal/external customers, I don't think that a degree in management will help us in finding the root cause of the problem.

abraxalito
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re: Do engineers need an MBA?
abraxalito   9/26/2012 1:51:28 AM
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Read the book first, then decide if there's something you need to understand beyond that - http://www.amazon.com/Ten-Day-MBA-4th-Step---Step/dp/0062199579/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1348624208&sr=1-1&keywords=10+day+mba

sh10453
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re: Do engineers need an MBA?
sh10453   9/27/2012 2:55:16 PM
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If we continue to concentrate on "BS", and on abandoning the engineering careers (by going to management, for higher pay), we'll eventually have quite a healthy number of managers, bean-counters, PowerPoint experts, who, combined together, cannot design a single transistor! We have already seen that a lot of our engineering design or work is going overseas, and a very large percentage of our technical people are from abroad. Corporate America is governed and driven by people (mostly non-technical) who are mainly concerned with their huge bonuses. They know all the "unethical" tricks to play around with the books, and to make things look better for the shareholders or the owners (are these tricks taught in MBA programs? You bet!). Engineers have become very much the first to go (expendable) when the bean-counters want to "save money" by a certain percentage, so things would look better, and the CEO, along with the rest of "the good old boys' club" get the maximum possible bonus. I see no end to this practice and mentality, unless engineers gain some sort of power, which is not possible without a union, and that is another subject that should be the topic for some next debate. I am not a big fan of unions, but I don't know of any other way for engineers to form a formidable weight. For now, things will stay the same.

JeffL_2
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re: Do engineers need an MBA?
JeffL_2   9/28/2012 6:23:30 PM
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Unions have only worked to the benefit of engineers in very limited situations in the aerospace industry. Even where they do work you're subject to the peril of transferring the real power from your manager over to a union boss you don't even know! And it certainly WON'T work if your boss figures your job can be outsourced to a non-union worker overseas for $800/mo. or so. Believe it or not there was actually a time when one of the principal functions of a manager in a high-tech situation was to INSULATE the precious workers from outside disturbances so they could get actual work done, NOT spend large amounts of time trying to find ways to get rid of them entirely! (If you didn't experience it you probably have a hard time believing it was ever like that) I went over to working on developing, documenting and testing safety-related code in order to shelter myself somewhat from managers trying too vigorously to find "shortcuts". It DID work for awhile but sadly there isn't enough development of ANY nature going on in THIS economy.

Thomas McCormick
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re: Do engineers need an MBA?
Thomas McCormick   9/27/2012 5:43:43 PM
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I think that there is a world of difference between an engineer who earns an MBA later in their career as compared to someone who focuses exclusively on business management. As a member of the first group (or I will be after 2012/12), I think that the MBA and engineering disciplines complement each other very well. Engineering approaches to problems are pragmatic and technically focused whereas MBA approaches to problems (at least by the discipline; not necessarily the example of the practitioners) are more broadly applicable. Engineers and MBAs may be at odds in any given company setting, but it takes both engineering and business focus to have a successful product. A person with both skill sets is at an advantage. At least I hope so...

Thomas McCormick
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re: Do engineers need an MBA?
Thomas McCormick   9/27/2012 5:44:53 PM
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I think that there is a world of difference between an engineer who earns an MBA later in their career as compared to someone who focuses exclusively on business management. As a member of the first group (or I will be after 2012/12), I think that the MBA and engineering disciplines complement each other very well. Engineering approaches to problems are pragmatic and technically focused whereas MBA approaches to problems (at least by the discipline; not necessarily the example of the practitioners) are more broadly applicable. Engineers and MBAs may be at odds in any given company setting, but it takes both engineering and business focus to have a successful product. A person with both skill sets is at an advantage. At least I hope so...

zeeglen
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re: Do engineers need an MBA?
zeeglen   10/6/2012 3:30:58 PM
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From many years of observation, very often a competent design engineer remains a competent design engineer. The MBA helps on occasion when a degreed engineer is not capable of designing her/his way out of a wet paper bag. (This is NOT an across-the-board statement, but has been known to apply to certain individuals).

Dr. Jim Wasson
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re: Do engineers need an MBA?
Dr. Jim Wasson   11/1/2012 2:57:32 AM
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Thomas McCormick was spot on. Several who commented obviously are engineers who don't have MBAs and domt realize the value of having one. When I was CTO of a major multinational defense firm my MBA served me well in developing and delivering on business cases for $70M investment in new product development that paid the salaries of 600 engineers developing these products. As such I have taught MBA courses as an Adjunct Professor to aspiring engineers for over 15 years helping them climb the management ladder where today they are making 7 figures.

Erick_J
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re: Do engineers need an MBA?
Erick_J   11/22/2012 3:49:53 PM
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I have an engineering degree with a number of years of experience. I also earned a MBA degree. MBA degrees do not entitle anyone to greater roles, though, in some cases I 've seen it happen. What has it done for me? Not much, no real foot in the door so to speak, no promotions, etc. Just some debt to such my free cash flow every month. On the other subject, going into management is not starting a new career. Especially if one is to go into engineering management where engineering skills are necessary. Frankly, if an engineer wants a seat at the table, so to speak, as far as influencing decision, directions, projects, etc. Eng mgmt is the way to go. MBA will give you a big picture perspective for business, how it gets used or implemented is dependent on attitude and drive. The jaded opinions on MBAs and engineering, I suspect are just opinions from jaded people in general. We all work with these people and yes a lot of them are engineers. MBA good business training, return on investment probably not worth it, unless gained from a top 5 school.... is the simplest explanation.

Thomas Chongruk
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re: Do engineers need an MBA?
Thomas Chongruk   11/30/2012 1:03:57 AM
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An MBA can be a great complement to the knowledge gained through an undergraduate engineering degree. However, that being said, it is also a great financial burden, and oftentimes in industry one may not get to utilize much of that knowledge gained before it is forgotten. One needs to look at the circumstances, and costs, before deciding if the sacrifice is worthwhile or futile.

BobGroh
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re: Do engineers need an MBA?
BobGroh   12/3/2012 5:09:15 PM
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First off, I have both a MBA and MSEE both obtained at a full up university (Rochester Institute of Technology and both using employer funding while also holding down a full time job. I did it because I wanted to! I have also taken other graduate level courses over the years - again just for the h*** of it. Did this have any impact on my career? I don't think so. It didn't hurt but I really don't think it helped all that much. I still remember the comment one of my bosses said when I proudly announced I had gotten my MSEE. He said 'I hope you don't think this will help you. You are still the same engineer today that you were yesterday'. Well, that stung. But, from one viewpoint, he was correct. Education doesn't make the man - the man makes himself (with a lot of help from others).

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