Nerd Guru

Because technical people need good soft skills to get ahead.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Washington Post : Engineers Learning People Skills, Too

An academic associate of my boss forwarded on a very interesting article that appeared in Sunday's Washington Post entitled Engineers Learning People Skills, Too. The article, nicely written by Michelle Locke, quotes sources from hugely respected institutions like UC Berkley, Stanford, the University of Michigan, and MIT. All endorse the importance of non-technical skills in an engineering career.

As you might imagine, this gave me a huge smile as it validates the topics I write about here. In my 14 year technical career, I have seen time and time again that the folks who get ahead are the ones who master the soft skills. They can translate complex and detailed technical topics into language that non-technical senior executives and marketers can understand. They take the time to understand why they are doing projects, not just how they are going to implement them. They accurately estimate the time it takes to complete a particular project.

While a baseline of technical knowledge is still absolutely required, these other things have a bigger impact on career growth than most people think. Passing on these things I've learned about and continuing to find others is what I'm passionate about here on this space. Agreement from the mainstream media on this idea, even though it wasn't directed at my materials in particular, was extremely rewarding to read about.


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posted by Pete Johnson @ 9:10 AM   3 comments


At 11:38 PM, Blogger Wendee said...

Amazing. It seems so clearly important, doesn't it? I think this applies to everyone, not just to technical types. You can work on those, I've got my hands full with the ones at the other end of the spectrum...

At 7:08 AM, Blogger Pete Johnson said...

Hey Wendee,

I agree that everybody could use the help, but I've got more street cred with the techie set. Or is that keyboard cred? I probably better not over analyze that, but your point is very valid.

At 6:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is amazing that the softer skills were not emphasized during our tertiary education. They mostly focused on the engineering topics. While these are important, it does not created a well rounded graduate engineer when they exit the academic world.


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