What comes to your mind when you think of engineers? In my father’s days, there was a generalization that all engineers carried a slide rule. Early on in my career, calculators were popular items to have on hand.

Whatever comes to your mind first, probably demonstrates a common misconception about engineers.

The fact is that engineers are dynamic individuals who are also strong leaders, communicators and business people.

Not only are we required to design and develop the latest innovative technologies, we are also able to understand what our customers need and manage a product through completion for successful delivery.

Business acumen competency is increasingly important for engineers. It has become imperative for an engineer to be able to understand how a business works as it helps improve their critical thinking and decision-making skills that can then positively impact the business. 

Leading a large department of engineers, I consistently tell my team that I would like for them to be intellectually curious about how the business works, how we make money and how their decisions impact the company’s ability to stay successful and competitive.

During my 30 years at Honeywell (IW 500/35), I was provided the opportunity to learn these skills through multiple job assignments throughout the organization in engineering, supply chain, marketing and product management.

These roles allowed me to improve my understanding of how our company works, and helped develop my leadership and communication skills by working with mentors, engaging with international teams, speaking to customers and suppliers, and presenting at various forums and meetings.