Technical or managerial career path?

I appreciated [Mark Zweig’s] "From the publisher" in the January issue ("Career path pros and cons," page 6). During my 33 years with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from 1957 until I retired in 1990, the questions and differences between technicians and managers (and their salaries) were frequently discussed and debated. I was fortunate to have service on each side of the debate, both in the Huntington, W.V., District and the South Pacific Division (San Francisco), and the article brings to the forefront the age-old pros and cons.

I remember hearing the argument that to be a good manager, one doesn’t need to have a technical background as the manager’s duties consist only of directing technicians to do their thing. In an A/E or any other arena requiring the production of technical products, I believe it is impossible to be an effective manager, who must not only direct the output, but also stand behind its adequacy in the marketplace. Any such manager — in my view — must retain enough technical expertise to be comfortable that the firm’s output is "right on" even though he/she probably cannot effectively keep up with the rapid pace of how work is being accomplished in today’s world. The secret is that it takes good team work with all parties a vital part of the team, fully cooperating and completely honest about adequacy, risks, and uncertainty.

And yes, [Mark Zweig] is certainly correct about "selling," and it goes for selling your company as well as selling yourself. Thanks CE News and thanks for your personal input into our great profession.

Les Tinkham,
P.E., P.S. Eastham & Associates

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Posted in Uncategorized | January 29th, 2014 by

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