Posts tagged ‘Advice for the Young Engineer’
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At the 2008 Pack Expo, after a successful presentation, one of my colleagues complemented me and told me I really knew how to do the heavy lifting on a project. I had never heard the phrase before (yes, sometimes it’s like I live under a rock). It’s just the way I do things, and the way the folks I respect go about their business. After he explained the phrase to me, I thanked him and thought to myself : “Is there any other way to do things?”
I got curious. And being an observer, I started paying attention to Random Episodes Of Heavy Lifting throughout 2009.
I found out there weren’t any. Random acts, that is.
Heavy Lifting is a conscious decision. You Heavy Lifters out there, you know who you are. Some of you own your own companies. Others of you have incredible working relationships across departments within your organization. You may not even be the top dog or the top salesperson or the top achiever. You may not even be a world leader or the captain of the team. You are, however, known as being The Person To Go To: the individual who brings excellence and perspective to the task at hand.
Heavy Lifters are not the same folks as the Hard Workers. Nor are they the same folks as the Savvy Employees. This isn’t about churning and burning or game playing. It pretty much encompasses your code of personal ethics, which you carry into your work ethics. You either do the work, and do it thoroughly and most excellently, or you don’t do it at all. And you encourage others to join you in doing excellent work. You bring out the best in your collaborators. And you inspire. Because ultimately, when you present, you evangelize because you believe in what you and your team are doing. You plant Possibilities in the minds of others.
Heavy Lifters do not Go Through The Motions. They are not Smiling Joes. Heavy Lifters do not survive because of thin veneers or changing agendas. There is no recipe for Heavy Lifting. You learn by doing. You do so because it’s part of who you are. And you are not afraid of falling flat on your face, trying.
So who are the Heavy Lifters in your organization? Are they recognized? Are you in a position to recognize them? Do I need to suggest that you recognize them? And incorporate them into your team, if you haven’t already done so?
I’ve had so many extraordinary client discussions in the past few weeks with Owners who are entrepreneurial yet fiscally rooted. They have done the due diligence and heavy lifting to move their organizations out of the economic mire, in a forward direction.
I’m having some wonderful LinkedIn discussions with engineers who have done the heavy lifting necessary to implement change management into their organizations, resulting in new product or service capabilities. And the potential for creating new revenue streams.
These are the Heavy Lifters. They end up moving mountains, but not alone. They are ordinary folks who become extraordinary simply because they don’t back down in their belief in what they bring to the table on behalf of their organization. And they have vision – which means they always have their eye NOT on the prize…. but on the horizon.
We are in the midst of creating a new economic business paradigm shift. And perhaps we are making it up, winging it, as we go along. Aren’t most paradigm shifts achieved in this manner?
What can you bring to your organization by shifting your focus to the horizon? Or taking a 50,000 foot eagle’s eye view of your organization? Are you capable of heavy lifting? It shouldn’t be something to shy away from. It’s probably always been your forte. Perhaps you have dumbed it down for various reasons.
Wouldn’t it be so much more comfortable to do what you do naturally?
Are you a Heavy Lifter?
As a recruiter I hear it all the time from my clients, “We need a seller-doer, we need a seller-doer.” Not only is it a tight market for technically strong and competent civil engineers, it is even more difficult to find my other favorite classification of engineer, “The Rain Maker.” So now they ask us to uncover the perfect combination, not only someone who can make the rain, but someone who can analyze it, purify it, bottle it and get it out to the customer….ahhhhhh, yes, the SELLER-DOER!
Well, in order to make my job easier a few years down the road, I hope to reach as many civil engineering students and new graduates as possible with my thoughts here. It is imperative that you learn and understand the pure engineering and the technical side of your profession – whether you are focusing on designing tunnels for transit authorities, laying out 7000 acre master planned communities, or preparing PS&E documents for a half-a-billion dollar toll road. Learn the technology, learn the concepts, study up on the corresponding codes and ordinances and prepare yourself to sit for that PE Exam ASAP. BUT, do not fall in the trap that many young engineers so often do by getting stuck behind the computer in their 8 x 8 cubical all day; get out! Be proactive in learning the client and business and marketing side of things at an early stage in your career. You accomplish this by requesting of your manager to tag along on some client meetings from time-to-time; by requesting to attend community planning meetings; by sitting in on presentations; by contributing to the preparation of proposals; by attending the occassional industry conference; by making presentations or writing papers for conferences; by attending specific marketing and business development workshops; the list goes on-and-on, but you catch my drift. Of course you need to determine the timing of all of this as you have deadlines to meet and technical concepts to learn and understand, just don’t get bogged down in only the nuts-and-bolts for your first seven or eight years.
My point is, don’t sit on the sidelines and wait for those opportunities to come to you, go find them, and find them early on in your career. This way, by the time you’ve got ten years under your belt, you will be able to pass out business cards with your name and the title of “Seller-Doer.” Once you’ve received “Seller-Doer” status, please give me a call, I’ve got an opportunity for you…or two…or three. Next stop – “Rain Maker.”