To excel, change perspective

Develop your engineering career by expanding your worldly view and volunteering with various groups.


John F. Hennessy III, PE, Turnstone Energy Solutions, New York CityThrough involvement in engineering and other associations, young engineers can become more aware of the world around them and how to interact with it. Along the way they need to:

  • Understand that leadership is an art
  • Know themselves and define their personal leadership framework
  • Lead a company that adapts to the world around it
  • Examine the changing environment, global issues, and trends
  • Interpret and apply public policy and its importance to engineering.

So how should one go about developing these skills? Here are a few suggestions:

1. Read books, periodicals, and papers on subjects beyond technical writings.

Being exposed to ideas beyond your technical field will help you understand how your work fits into a larger framework of the world.

A transportation engineer would be a much better practitioner if he or she had a more complete understanding of the financing and public policy issues surrounding road and infrastructure development.

If one were to read “The Power Broker,” by Robert A. Caro, a person would read a fascinating account of how one person shaped and changed the infrastructure of a great city and state almost singlehandedly and would understand how public policy is shaped.

2. Attend seminars on subjects beyond technical ones.

Many universities and institutions hold seminars on a wide variety of topics concerning public policy. Again, being exposed to ideas beyond your technical field will help you understand how your work fits into a larger framework of the world.  

An engineer attending a seminar on the future of energy supply would have a better understanding of how and why clean energy conserving technologies have a positive impact on not only the project he or she is working on, but the whole world environment.

3. Participate in outside organizations.

A young engineer should seek out opportunities to participate in the leadership of both technical and nontechnical groups. These groups offer a range of experiences that will broaden and deepen the understanding of the environment that we live and work in as well as allow one to develop their leadership skills.

By volunteering at a technical or nontechnical group, an engineer will get a better understanding of how decisions are made by a group, get a broader picture of why decisions are made, and learn how committee members influence others.

As time passes, the individual will become more skilled at understanding the group dynamic and could be offered committee chair responsibility or advancement to other committees. As these skills are developed the individual will see his or her responsibilities and influence over others increase.

Of course, this list is only a sample of how and where young engineers can go to broaden their experiences and learn new leadership outside of their firm. Young engineers will develop skill sets more quickly and be better able to undertake new responsibilities when they are given them.

Hennessy is CEO of Turnstone Energy Solutions and the former chairman of the board and CEO of the Syska Hennessy Group. He is chairman emeritus of the board of directors of the New York Building Congress, chairman emeritus of the New York Building Foundation, past president of the American Council of Engineering Companies of New York, and 2008-2009 chair of the American Council of Engineering Companies (nationwide).

No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
Safety for 18 years, warehouse maintenance tips, Ethernet and the IIoT, GAMS 2016 recap
2016 Engineering Leaders Under 40; Future vision: Where is manufacturing headed?; Electrical distribution, redefined
Strategic outsourcing delivers efficiency; Sleeve bearing clearance; Causes of water hammer; Improve air quality; Maintenance safety; GAMS preview
SCADA at the junction, Managing risk through maintenance, Moving at the speed of data
Safety at every angle, Big Data's impact on operations, bridging the skills gap
The digital oilfield: Utilizing Big Data can yield big savings; Virtualization a real solution; Tracking SIS performance
Applying network redundancy; Overcoming loop tuning challenges; PID control and networks
Driving motor efficiency; Preventing arc flash in mission critical facilities; Integrating alternative power and existing electrical systems
Package boilers; Natural gas infrared heating; Thermal treasure; Standby generation; Natural gas supports green efforts

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
This article collection contains several articles on the vital role of plant safety and offers advice on best practices.
This article collection contains several articles on the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and how it is transforming manufacturing.
This article collection contains several articles on strategic maintenance and understanding all the parts of your plant.
click me