Passion with a dose of realism
Kevin Porter
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Passion rules the majority of success in any profession. But passion alone would not do the trick. Nurturing an aggressive passion for the work one does would ultimately differentiate a great engineer from a good one. Take for instance the great technological breakthroughs in the 21st century. Many resulted from garages or study labs. They were results of experiments prepared by a bunch of engineers either for extra credits at college or to satisfy their passion for experimentation- but both produced exemplary results. The burning passion atypical of these erstwhile young grads is what takes an engineer to his deserved success.

In addition to nurturing a passion for work, engineers would do well to spike it with a dollop of realism. There is an untold need for techies to remain practical and realistic. While experimenting, their aim must be to address a particular need in the market segment. The engineer has to view the innovation from a business point of view and not get wholly absorbed by the technology alone.

Furthermore, technology is going through its most dynamic phase yet. In such a scenario, it would not be advisable for engineers to hold on to a passion for a dying technology. While delving into the depth of his preferred area is excellent for domain expertise, he should not let his professional life be ruled by it alone. He should be aware of the nuances of emerging technologies and work towards becoming proficient in them.
This they should do by shedding all inhibitions, and delving into experimentation with the new technologies. They must read and research to learn more about the ‘happenings’ in the world of technology that they tend to miss out.

Communication and interaction is something I notice lacking in the engineering community today. Going by the trend, many of these engineers get frustrated and give up too easily when faced with problems. They have trained themselves to be so scientific and logical that they forget creativity. Creativity could be fuelled by talking to various people; especially since it helps learn from their mistakes and opens a completely different angle to the same thought for the engineer. As such, engineers must keep an open mind about moving across technologies and be open to the various sectors that the profile can offer. However, this does not necessitate job-hopping!

That would translate into the third requisite upon engineers: dedication to the company. Engineers today are letting go of their jobs to join emerging technologies without a thorough understanding of what they really want. For many it might be the money, for others it could be the alluring post that would be seen as a success step in their career, but in reality it takes them away from what they love to do. These engineers have to find other areas of interest within the organization.

I have spent all of my eighteen years in the industry in one organization. Whenever I felt the work was getting stagnating, I ensured I moved within the organization either horizontally or vertically. It not only expands the exposure for the engineer but also helps him procure an overview of what the company is into and creates a future for him within the organization.

The author is Worldwide Product Manager, ProCurve Networking, (an HP innovation) and can be reached at Kevin.porter@hp.com

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