Engineering a manager: assessing the factors affecting the career transition from engineer to manager
The appointment to a managerial position brings with it various managerial challenges. Engineering is one of the most seen careers among managerial positions. A study found that 33% of the S&P 500 CEO's have engineering degrees (Aquino, 2011). The engineering council of South Africa have further conducted a study that shows that 36% of engineers are in management roles (ECSA, 2013). Roles such as General Manager, Technical Director, Managing Director and Chief operating officer have all been seen to be filled by engineers to name a few but there is little understanding of the hardships experienced in this transition. The literature review contains review of the applied literature. This included engineering development methods, career development theory, career paths, managerial skill requirements and transition process literature. This study will aim to identify the factors that were perceived to affect the transition from engineer to manager. A qualitative research approach was used and 12 people were interviewed through the use of a semi-structured interview guide. The findings showed that there are various influencing factors both from internal as well as environmental sources. These factors were divided into difficulty factors, transition drivers and expectations as seen by the industry. The study found that the factors were not sector specific as the overall population had overlapping perceptions of these factors. The study identified factors that could serve individuals and organisations in adequately preparing for the transition to management through training and environmental control through career development structures. Although some organisations do have these processes the view of the respondents was still aligned on these matters and could serve to optimise their development.