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Of course civil enginners can run a large business

I disagree strongly with your proposition in Comment, (NCE last week) that (to manage a civil engineering business) 'it matters very little whether the (chief executive's) background is in civil engineering or floristry'.
You identify a crucial issue - "provided that your boss understands the business........" - but the more esoteric the skills involved the less likely that such requisite understanding will be there in the management hierarchy.

That is why technically innovative first generation management prospers and financially oriented second generation management usually initiates a long decline.

Management and engineering skills are not mutually interchangeable. It is relatively easy for a trained engineer to grasp management skills but not vice versa.

In a manufacturing process, the factory environment can be strictly controlled, and when the initial engineering input has been proven, largely organisational skills will suffice.

In civil engineering, however, each project presents new problems necessitating engineering input involving investigatory and interpretive skills dependent on technical knowledge.

This is especially acute in geotechnical and ground engineering. How many times have projected costs been prejudiced by inadequate or inappropriate ground investigation dictated by an ill informed manager or quantity surveyor?

Vide the positive example of Flint & Neill which you applaud and the negative one of the NHS and engineering companies of which I have had experience. The more sophisticated the work, the greater the need for skilled technical managers.

DAVID A. GREENWOOD (F), dgrnwd2@aol.com

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