Globalization has brought many countries of the world together as competitors. Information technology, computer tools, and communication systems developed by members of our profession enable today’s engineer to contribute anywhere on the globe.
Offshore companies initially involved in manufacturing jobs are competing more and more in leading-edge product development. The need to be in countries where products are sold, and economic factors such as government tax policies and high-tech wages, are most often cited as reasons for moving to offshore locations. Globalization puts pressure on job availability and engineering salaries in more affluent countries like the United States.
Engineers can cope with the challenges of globalization by being flexible and adaptable. They must take a long-term view ensuring that they focus on career aspects of the profession. It is important to understand the forces driving globalization and the trends that are emerging. The successful engineer will move into new technology opportunities and will always strive to be ready for the challenges ahead. This approach will result in a more successful and enjoyable career.
Let’s consider some strategies that will help engineers compete in today’s global environment:
Be a leading-edge engineer. Possess skills, knowledge, and tools that will enable you to be a top-notch competitor. Continually strive to be “top gun” in your field. Stay away from jobs that other engineers can do. If somebody else can do it, you aren’t competitive.
Be a contributor. Frequently ask yourself what you have done to contribute to your company’s success. Always remember that contributors must carry their own weight. Your salary is paid out of the revenue that your contributions provide.
Work for companies that are competitive in the global marketplace. Be a true partner with your company. Your success is their success, and their success is yours.
Be innovative. Strive to improve everything you do. Learn from mistakes. Review your previous work to identify ways to improve future endeavors.
Understand the competition. Study their products or services to determine gaps in satisfying customer wants or needs. Take actions to ensure that your company’s products and services outpace your competitors.
Constantly strive to provide products and services that satisfy your customers’ needs and expectations.
When your company is involved with global manufacturing and engineering, identify ways to facilitate globalization. Global companies require technical experts to coordinate and manage offshore work projects. Understand the culture and practices of your suppliers, customers, and colleagues in other countries and be able to communicate with them.
TRY SOMETHING NEW
These strategies assume that the engineer is an employee of a high-tech firm. Other very exciting opportunities exist for engineers in non-traditional areas, like consulting and entrepreneurship.
Consulting is an attractive field for those who have enjoyed a successful career and have developed high-demand skills. Consultants are a special breed of engineer who aspires to work on their own. IEEE-USA offers a host of resources for consultants at www.ieeeusa.org/business/default.asp
Entrepreneurship is another exciting opportunity for engineers who wish to start their own business. Many of America’s large high-tech firms began as startups led by engineers with an entrepreneurial bent. IEEE-USA’s Entrepreneurs Village for tech-based business owners is another excellent resource: www.ieeeusa.org/careers/entrepreneurs/default.asp
Globalization is a challenge, but engineers can cope with its forces by being flexible and adaptable and by focusing strategically on their careers. This approach will help ensure you enjoy a meaningful and rewarding career.