Rising to the top of one’s organization or industry is no easy feat. With an increasingly competitive workforce of ambitious contenders in the engineering sector, it comes as no surprise that navigating the ranks of middle management and then executive roles take hard work and commitment. Indeed, there are instances in which hard work and dedication alone are not enough to secure a top position. Those who are successful in reaching the highest echelons of the engineering profession are often those who have allocated time and energy to their ongoing education.
Dr. Ilias Visvikis
Here, Dr. Ilias Visvikis, Director of the Center for Executive and Professional Education (CEPE) at American University of Sharjah, sets out six reasons why a commitment to continuous learning can be the defining factor when it comes to standing out in a tightly held engineering workforce.
- Undertaking a professional or executive education program keeps you up-to-date with the latest developments in your industry or profession. This is especially important for engineers, where rapid changes in technology mean that skills and knowledge to be renewed on an ongoing basis. Failing to keep up can lead to falling behind from a technical perspective, and becoming sidelined by new recruits possessing more recent education and training.
- However, becoming a leader in the engineering sector relies on more than technical skills alone. You can be the very best engineer from a technical standpoint, but this far from assures your progression into higher management. Leaders need leadership skills, and often these are not the skills you learn during your degree. A professional or executive education program can help you gain confidence in new areas, such as communication and influencing skills, financial know-how, management ability, and a whole host of other capabilities that are essential to gaining – and maintaining – a leadership role.
- One of the best ways you can secure your long-term career prospects is by developing an extensive professional network, full of other like-minded professionals. Joining an executive or professional education program is a great way to build your network, and establish meaningful relationships with people who one day could be the key to getting your dream job.
- Importantly, completing professional and executive education programs evidence to future employers your commitment to your career progression. It shows you take your career seriously, verifying to those on interview panels that you have the drive and ambition to learn the skills and acquire the knowledge you need to move into a leadership position.
- Executive and professional education courses also afford you the opportunity to broaden the geographical location in which you are seeking a promotion. Having a course under your belt from an institution that is known and respected internationally can help you break into a new overseas market, and make you competitive among a group in a foreign country that you would not have otherwise had a good chance of succeeding in.
- One of the most under-rated benefits of executive and professional education to a person’s career is the sense of confidence it gives them – confidence that is absolutely essential when it comes to convincing their employers that they are up to the task of leadership, and essential to effectively leading their team once they have won their new position.
Of course, professional and executive education is not just beneficial to those undertaking it. Evidence shows that organizations that invest in ongoing training and development for their future leaders reap the rewards in the long-term. Organizations with a strong culture of investing in their people have higher rates of employee engagement and retention, with increased productivity and profitability. For engineering firms, identifying future leaders and then devoting the necessary time and energy to developing their leadership talent is one of the best ways to retain talent and build an effective succession plan. We have worked with a number of engineers and organizations with large engineering workforces, and have seen first-hand the positive impact such training and education has at an organization-wide level.
If you have management or leadership aspirations, do not neglect your ongoing learning and development. The sooner you make a commitment to undertaking high quality, and well recognized professional and executive education, the sooner you will start to see your career take flight.
CEPE offers custom programs and open enrollment courses, all designed to give participants the knowledge, skills and self-assurance to foster new ways of thinking, better ways of doing business and opportunities to secure the success of their organizations for years to come. CEPE has special expertise in the engineering sector, drawing on the knowledge and experience of faculty in the university’s College of Engineering. To find out more about CEPE, and the programs it offers for engineering professionals and organizations employing engineers, visit www.aus.edu/CEPE.