“The employees closest to the work are the ones who should be making the decision as much as possible because they know the work best.” – Jessi Hall
In this episode, I interviewed Jessi Hall, the Senior Director for Vertical Integration at Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories in Pullman, Washington, about her career and how she transitioned from engineer to engineering director at a large firm.
Here Are Some of the Key Points Discussed About Transitioning From Engineer to Engineering Director:
- If you want to make decisions in a company, enjoy working with people, and help them to solve problems, then transitioning from engineer to a leadership role could be a good fit for you. Getting an MBA will help you to understand how a business works. When you start in a leadership role, find out exactly what it is the company needs you to do by asking questions, communicating with your partners, making networks, and executing well on your projects. Always keep a lookout for new opportunities that may arise where you can grow further in your career.
- Getting an MBA will broaden your horizons in your engineering career. It will help you with transitioning from engineer to engineering director, and help you understand more about how businesses work, how people work within businesses, and the overall structure of a business. You will get a vastly different perspective of how a business works, even from the other students in your class. The connections you get, and what you learn from the other students, will be the most helpful.
- When deciding how you would like to further your education, you must look at what you want to do in your career. Get as much experience as possible in the direction you want to go before signing up for a degree. It will help you to easily understand what you must learn.
- The vertical integration strategy is when a company streamlines its operations by doing some manufacturing itself rather than relying on external contractors or suppliers. That way, the quality of the product will always be kept under supervision. Vertical integration is a great way to manufacture custom products that your company designs and is a great way to promote innovation in the products you manufacture. You can optimize manufacturing by streamlining and integrating the processes.
- Continually focusing on the right things and being as productive as possible is a daily challenge. Try using things like checklists and delegating to ensure the tasks get completed. Prioritizing your tasks in line with the company’s priorities will help you know which tasks are most important.
- Constantly getting new teams can be a challenge for a leader. It is difficult to make connections with your team and understand how you can contribute to and help your team. To deal with a challenge like this, you must first understand why the change is happening and commit yourself to the reasons behind it. Spend time making connections with your team. Let them get to know you so that they can trust you. Ensure that the networks you need are in place to help your team be successful. To get to know your team quickly, you must listen, ask many questions, be open to admitting that you do not know some things, and spend time with each of your team members.
- Having face-to-face meetings and spending time to get to know each other is a great way to build teamwork and trust. It helps you and your team have honest conversations, get critical feedback, and ask questions without feeling like you are imposing on someone else. As a leader, you must facilitate the meetings and ensure they happen regularly. Building networks is one of the critical things a leader should be doing. Their network must be strong enough so that their team can also leverage the network.
- The best way to build your network is to get involved on many levels. Go to meetings and ask questions. If someone says something interesting, reach out to them afterward and make that connection. Lean on your friends and colleagues at work and ask them if they know someone who can help with something. There are often groups and activities at work that you should attend. Once you have made some connections, the people in your network will help you to expand your network even more.