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Is an MBA Suitable for Engineers?

Is an MBA Suitable for Engineers? main image

Sponsored by IE Business School

In recent years, the flagship business management degree program has undergone a somewhat dramatic revamp as a result of globalization and innovative technologies, attracting candidates from various academic backgrounds, including engineering. 

Whether your chosen discipline is chemical engineering, civil engineering, electrical engineering, or computer science engineering, you may not necessarily consider the MBA a natural step in your career progression even though it can be one of the most logical, especially if you want to move up into a managerial role.

At IE Business School in Madrid, the Tech MBA is the first of its kind in Europe offering technology-centered specializations. We spoke with program director Professor José Esteves to find out what it’s all about.

The world can no longer do business without technology

Dramatic changes in innovation and technology have led to a wider skills shortage among managers and leaders, as well as a decrease in the number of good managers within engineering.

While many have the business know-how, it’s become apparent that a broader set of skills and technical knowledge is required. And as roles and responsibilities shift in this new technology era, engineers might find their roles requiring a more in-depth understanding of business-related areas.

Although engineers are known for their strong technical knowledge and ability to think critically, work well under pressure and be solution and detail-oriented, some are not as well-versed in soft skills – something which the Tech MBA places a large emphasis on.

Combining these skillsets is a diverse and valuable asset to have.

Learning the art of management and leadership

Regardless of industry or sector, an MBA provides students with the essential foundations required to be a leader.

As an engineering graduate with an MBA you’ll have both the technical understanding and business expertise when it comes to problem-solving on both a micro and macro level whether it’s for a technical issue, a team issue or company-wide issue.

Breaking the mould: think like an engineer, work like a business professional

Engineers tend to have great ideas and vision when it comes to business – but lack in business expertise to help bring such visions to fruition. An alternative perspective to consider in this situation is that an engineer might want to include all of the functions and tools in a product, but it’s the business leader or manager who will only look at and consider those elements which benefit the consumer and help them stand out.

As a result, many MBA candidates are from engineering backgrounds where they can align their technical expertise with functional areas of business such as finance, sales, supply chain operations and marketing.

“As I always say to my students, we still have tech industries and companies who need managers who know how to do general management,” said Professor Esteves.

“Even if it’s tech-related, they need to have more advanced knowledge on tech skills because at the end of the day it’s still the core of the business’s technology, and they still need to know about marketing, entrepreneurship, innovation and leading people. The whole industry is about managing technical people – it’s a sophisticated structure.

“So, it’s important as leaders to know everything about the different business parts of the company and industry,” he added.

Around one-third of the Fortune 500 CEOs hold an engineering degree, so don’t think that an MBA won’t mean you’re limited to what is considered ‘traditional’ business professions as you develop a holistic perspective and enhance your business mindset.

IE’s Tech MBA offers industry experience with Tech Immersion trips and Capstone Project – a valuable asset for aspiring leaders who want to reach their full potential if pursuing a business-oriented job within the engineering sector is the end goal.

It all comes down to your own personal goals, needs and interests

Many MBA candidates come from engineering backgrounds, so it’s not about knowing whether the MBA is suitable for engineers, but whether it’s suitable for you.

It all comes down to your own personal goals, needs and interests. Do you consider yourself a team-player, someone who is confident when it comes to making decisions and problem-solving? Do you want to move up in your company into a more senior level role where managing and leading is at the forefront of your role? Or do you feel like you’d benefit from having a better understanding of business?

You should keep in mind that you will need to sit either the GMAT or GRE exam as part of the application process as well as have at least three years of professional work experience.

Lead image credit: Danial RiCaRoS on Unsplash

Written by Stephanie Lukins

As the Head of Sponsored Content for TopMBA.com and TopUniversities.com, Stephanie creates and publishes a wide range of articles for universities and business schools across the world. She attended the University of Portsmouth where she earned a BA in English Language and an MA in Communication and Applied Linguistics.

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