Thursday, May 24, 2012

Engineering versus MBA - is one more important than the other?

The term engineering refers to any type of core job skills. This could include even fashion design skills for a designer, or cooking skills for a chef. By MBA, I mean all non-core job skills.

Is one of these more important than the other? It's a question that people have strong opinions about. I'm both an engineer and an MBA, so I probably have a broader perspective to answer this question compared to folks who are only one of these. However, I might ruffle MBA feathers by claiming that technical skills are more important [and vice versa].

So I'll provide an example: think of a house being constructed. Compare its construction materials, its foundation, and its structural design to engineering, and its interior design, its luxuries, and its paintings, etc., to MBA. A house with only engineering won't attract too many buyers, because they won't like the modest design, the uninspired feel, etc. A house with only MBA will quickly attract many buyers, unaware that the house is flimsy and even dangerous. However, over time these buyers will realize that this nice piece of design is nothing more than a house of cards, and these buyers will flock to the former house.

Speaking more generally, it's important for individuals in each camp to respect those in the other. Pure MBAs should understand and respect that they don't know what the engineers know, and pure engineers should similarly appreciate the knowledge and skills that MBAs have.

Following are some interesting articles/posts about engineering vs. MBA. Note that there is no bias in choosing these three links because these were randomly chosen from Google results without ex-ante knowledge of their contents:
  1. MBA vs Engineering, Aug'06

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