Janan Sulaiman (NCE last week) suggests that MBAs and civil engineering do not mix. I agree wholeheartedly.
I suspect that few civil engineers do MBAs to progress further in civil engineering. Civil engineers, as with many other engineering disciplines, make ideal managers in other sectors of industry.
A good quality MBA is an ideal qualification to achieve this. Experience is, of course, important too, but for many engineers their technical degree courses still fail to deliver a sufficiently wide range of training in the discipline of management to arm even the best managers with the correct outlook for a career in management.
It is ironic that in the same issue there was an advertisement by the Royal Academy of Engineering offering scholarships under the Sainsbury Management Fellowship Scheme.
Previous successful applicants to the scheme have gone on to hold a wide range of senior management positions in industry, often outside the initial engineering discipline in which they started. Of the 150 Sainsbury Management Fellows in circulation, some 25 are civil engineers by training, but most now lead successful careers outside civil engineering.
I hold a senior position within Rolls Royce developing power stations, and have very little involvement in the civil engineering aspects of our projects.
Other civil engineering SMFs hold important positions in the industry but few have gone back into civil engineering. Not one single non-civil engineering
SMF has gone into the civil engineering field after his MBA.
However, I do have to disagree with Janan Sulaiman that civil engineers will never be leaders. They are very capable leaders, but will probably have to seek opportunities in other industries to make their mark. An MBA is a good way of making this transition to higher management.
Paul Carey (M), President, The Sainsbury Management Fellows, 33 Ormond Crescent, Hampton, Middlesex TW12 2TJ1