How engineers become CEOs: implications for education and training

Goh, Steven C. and Coaker, Warren and Thorpe, David (2008) How engineers become CEOs: implications for education and training. Journal of Achievements in Materials and Manufacturing Engineering, 31 (2). pp. 846-852. ISSN 1734-8412


Purpose: This paper provides results of an investigation into the career progression of engineers in Australia,
determining the skills and qualities they need to become large company CEOs and thus recommend strategies
for long term career development.

Design/methodology/approach: This investigation used a questionnaire to gain a view on the perceptions of
top-level executive who have an engineering degree on the training of engineers. It was aimed at discovering
their perceptions as to the skills and attributes that they possessed that had assisted in their success. Questionnaire
participants were selected on the basis that they held a Bachelors degree in Engineering and have been successful
in the business world. These participants were sourced from the 'Who’s Who In Business' (WWIB) database. In
order to maximize the level of responses, the questionnaire was distributed by both email and regular mail.

Findings: Findings indicate: CEOs often reach their position as natural career progression rather than actively
seeking management; key attributes and skills are perceived as being more important than qualifications;
Leadership, communication skills and financial training are the most important training requirements; most
universities do not cover some highly desirable skill sets and attributes.

Practical implications: University courses can be adjusted to better reflect the needs of industry; students and
engineers can plan careers more effectively by considering their personal attributes and the skill sets required of
executives; professional development programs can be designed to maximise proficiencies at the most beneficial
stage of their career.

Originality/value: There is some overlap between the skill sets of CEOs and engineers. Thus by effective
education and training, engineers may be in a better position for the transition into the management.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information (displayed to public): Published paper freely available from Journal website. Awaiting copyright advice. Awaiting Author's version.
Depositing User: Mr Steven Goh
Faculty / Department / School: Historic - Faculty of Engineering and Surveying - Department of Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering
Date Deposited: 26 Jul 2009 04:50
Last Modified: 16 Oct 2014 01:01
Uncontrolled Keywords: engineering education; engineering leadership; professional development; management education
Fields of Research (FoR): 13 Education > 1302 Curriculum and Pedagogy > 130212 Science, Technology and Engineering Curriculum and Pedagogy
13 Education > 1302 Curriculum and Pedagogy > 130203 Economics, Business and Management Curriculum and Pedagogy
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO): C Society > 93 Education and Training > 9303 Curriculum > 930302 Syllabus and Curriculum Development

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