Weekly Photo Challenge: Achievement

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“The Young Shall Achieve Greater Things” (Taken with Nikon D5200, 18-105mm lens)

Photo taken by The Task Mistress

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Remembering the unforgettable and being unforgettable

The VC congratulates me at Henley Business School's Graduation Ceremony on Friday, 18th October

The VC congratulates me at Henley Business School’s Graduation Ceremony on Friday, 18th October

Photo Credit: Ede & Ravenscroft Photography, Cambridge, UK

I almost forgot about 3 years of my life. I hardly remembered my fierce determination and obvious persistence. In the past year since completing my 3-year MBA (Master of Business Administration), I’ve faced small and medium challenges like starting a new job in a new company, finding my place in a new group, rekindling old friendships and making new ones. I was often worried about how I would cope or if I would survive. Indeed, I had almost forgotten what I could achieve if I set my mind to it.

It was last Friday, 18th October when I attend my MBA graduation ceremony that it hit me unexpectedly as I saw my classmates, many of which became friends of mine. They will be unforgettable because they taught me more than business.

I don’t know where strength came from. It often felt like there was a pipe pumping energy into my veins at high speed. I had low points when I thought I couldn’t continue, that the demands I had of myself were too high. But I was unable to accept that state for long. Looking back, I’m grateful for those low points as they helped me refuel. I’ve learnt to appreciate the stillness instead of panicking in the silence. I’ve learnt over time not to forget to be kind to myself in the excitement – to remain unforgettable in the process. Even as I shake the hand of the Vice Chancellor, I don’t think I fully got it. Hopefully someday, I will.

Rock-a-cry baby

Things haven’t been moving along as quickly as I’d hoped. This includes but is not limited to my research. If I’ve learned anything in the past 3 months, it’s that I’m very impatient. I expect immediate results when I put in effort – but alas, it just takes ages. I’ve literally been slugging it out, and resisting the urge to run wild into the forest. I’d live on rabbits and bees. It was a close call, my friends.

My excuse for not blogging is shear exhaustion, mental exhaustion to be specific. I didn’t want to turn up here to whine so I saved you all the hassle by shutting my trap. But it’s open now despite all my efforts; I just couldn’t stay away. Don’t worry. I’m not going to be a cry baby. And besides, things are looking up. I didn’t get as much done over the summer as I’d have liked but I’m almost there now. In fact, I should send off a final draft of my research work next week (touch wood as the Scots say or finger crossed for the rest of us!). Writing 20,000 words has sucked the juice out of my brain and put some juice into my fingers, which now feel tired, numb and heavy. Ok, I’m a cry baby…. But the end is near.

I’ve got lots to tell you but I have to wait for the end. Woe is the impatient one. My gag is back on until the next time.

Chao.

3 Real Reasons Why Engineers Don’t Want To Be Managers

You may have read similar-titled articles by top execs or by practitioners claiming to know something about how the minds of engineers’ work. Well, this here is my own opinion, fuelled by my experiences so far. To set the scene, you need to know that I’m a black woman approaching my mid 30s and armed with 2 engineering qualifications. I’ve recently dipped my toes in the waters of business and management i.e. taking on non-engineering roles. I’m also completing an MBA degree. Now that we’ve gotten that “stiff” intro out of the way, let’s get down to my reasoning.

You should have seen the faces of my friends and colleagues when I opted to try a non-engineering role. They didn’t understand my motives and I didn’t understand why they didn’t understand. Over the past 18 months. I’ve enjoyed getting in touch with my creative (and sometimes “fluffy”) side. For most engineers, that’s the problem right there. And now, even I am beginning to understand why…

1. Take job descriptions for instance. An ad for an engineer is often clear. The recruiter is looking for X number of years experience in this tool or that tool. They will require sound understanding of key principles e.g. fluid mechanics or production engineering or operations research and so on. You either have these or you don’t. Ads for managers are a little less straight-forward. Requirements like “Demonstrated leadership qualities” or “Ability to manage people” are not so obvious. I mean, does the annual school play with 30 children that I direct every Christmas count? I manage people all day every day – including my 2 children and 1 husband and numerous in-laws – does this count? You get the idea.

2. Let’s look at “managing people” more closely. Most engineers I know don’t really like people (I mean that in a good way!). There’s perhaps a valid concern that managing people requires counseling skills or the likes meaning suddenly, the standard chair in your new office marked “General Manager” may be exchanged for a 3-seater sofa. You do need to tolerate people (you don’t have to like them) and you need to be willing to listen actively. Still, with all the best management skills nothing can prepare you for that employee who comes into your office on a Monday morning saying, “look! I’ve grown a horn!” There’s never a dull moment…

3. Then there’s the basic fluffiness of it all. It’s unclear what you actually do…so don’t be surprised if the word along the corridors is that you do “nothing”. Don’t take it personally. You’re probably trying to ensure positive business impact by implementing printed strategies but this is rarely obvious. You may even be forced to implement a strategy you don’t agree with, or that you think lacks logic (shhhh!). Engineers despise the illogical so forgive them if they opted out of that “game show”.

In the end, there are significant advantages to both career paths. If you are comfortable with being a specialist at what you do – and you’re bloody good at it, then I can see how that can be profoundly rewarding. But having skills that are not always clearly defined; and having to deal with people as well as finding a balance between the logical and your instincts is what makes a great manager. And let’s face it – someone has to manage the engineers. Not an easy task I would imagine.

Making the switch has come with its challenges. I recently sat in a marketing course and watched as 52.5% and 63.5% added up to 100% on a PowerPoint slide. I didn’t dare say a word…

Starting the Months of Madness

I had a suggestion from one of my readers to record my business research journey here. Some of you may know that I’m doing a business course at university which requires me to carry out some research in the next few months. My research is on Change management during social media implementation programs. I’m focusing on how learning during the change can promote employee participation.

Yes, that was a mouth-full – even for me. I hope to record elements of my work on Months of Madness, a new blog I have created and dedicated to this research work. There’s only an About Me page on there now but I do plan to update on:
1. New and wonderful things I’m reading and learning
2. Things I’m reading that I do agree with
3. Stuff I don’t agree with based on some personal experience or perception.
4. Lack of progress – yes, there’ll be some venting but I’ll try to keep this to a minimum
5. Achievements of milestones e.g. Completion of literature review, interview and survey design completions, final submission etc.

I hope some of you will join me there. It may be a little heavy but I think it’ll be fun. After the research is done, the site will stay up, perhaps a student or two will find inspiration there or just a point of view.

I’m excited and worried at the same time. I’ve realised there will be no short cuts with this – I’ve checked. I have to find out things for myself and roll my sleeves up to do the dirty work. Wish me luck!

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