The Institute - June 2018 - 10


What to Expect
When Moving Up
to Management
Insights from the IEEE Technology and Engineering
Management Society B Y M O N I C A R O Z E N F E L D


F Y O U ' R E A N E N G I N E E R looking to move into a management role,
here are a few things to know about
what managing requires.
With the right skills, any engineer
who aspires to be a manager can
become one, according to Life Senior
Member Oliver Yu, chair of the IEEE
Technology and Engineering Management Society (TEMS) innovation and
entrepreneurship committee. He has
had a long career as a manager in
California, including at the Electric
Power Research Institute in Palo Alto
and at the research nonprofit SRI
International in Menlo Park. He is
now president and CEO of the Stars
Group, an online gaming company in
Los Altos.


The Institute interviewed Yu and
Senior Member Michael Condry,
president of IEEE TEMS, who began in
management at Bell Labs, in Holmdel,
N.J. He went on to become director of
Sun Microsystems in Santa Clara, Calif.,
and then CTO of Intel's Global Ecosystem Development Division before
retiring in 2015.
Here is what they say you can
expect once you become a manager.

As manager, you are the bridge
between your own manager and your
team-you're expected to deliver on
the objectives of your project and troubleshoot problems that arise, Condry
says. "Your focus shifts from you as an


One of the biggest tasks a manager has
is to see the big picture and execute on
it. That might entail communicating
the deliverables from your manager to
your team or relaying feedback from
customers to top leadership. Whether
it's one project or several, a whole division or an entire company, managers
must have a wide-angle lens, Yu says,
whereas engineers take a narrower view. 
"It is critical that managers speak
two different languages: detailed for
engineers and high-level for executives," Yu says.
Managers must learn to communicate concisely with the company's
top leaders about business decisions.
"If you can't say it with three bullets
on one slide, you won't hold their
attention," Condry says. "If they ask for
more details, you've done a good job
at getting your message across."
Being succinct is often difficult for
engineers who move into a management position, Condry says. "If they
come from academia, engineers think
the more volume, the more effective the
message," he says. "But in industry, you
need to make your points fast and crisp."
It's important for managers to
understand the technology their teams
are working on. "If managers don't know
how the technology works, they'll struggle to lead their teams," Condry says.

As manager, you have to see how
all the pieces work and fit together,
including the supply chain and the
marketing process. Even if you oversee
only one piece of the pipeline, you're
still responsible for moving everything
along to meet deadlines, Condry says.
And if you find that your team lacks
the expertise needed to complete your
project, it's important to communicate
that as well, Condry advises. While at
Intel, he says, he saved the company
US $1.2 billion when he asked a power
electronics engineer from another
department for help on his project-
expertise he did not have. Together
they came up with a patch for a circuit
system instead of a complete redesign.

Before applying for a management
position, it would be helpful to take
classes in team management, communication skills, business strategy,
and similar subjects, Condry says.
Courses might be available through
your employer; if not, check with colleges, universities, and engineering
and business associations.
IEEE TEMS, for example, offers Engineering Management 101 and Understanding an Industry Technical Staff
Pipeline, each available for $11 for members or $15 for nonmembers. Check out
its website for these and other resources.
Yu also recommends asking to
shadow managers at your company to
see what their day looks like.
If there is no time for classes when
you find a newly posted management
position, emphasize related experience
on your résumé, in your cover letter,
and in interviews, Yu suggests. That
could include having led a project or
organized a conference, as well as tasks
that demonstrate your ability to work
with a budget and lead a team. Explain
the kind of project it was, how many
people were involved, and the type of
communications required to execute
and complete it, Yu says.
"Emphasize any creativity you've
implemented in managing a project or
leading a team," he adds. In interviews, be attentive and be prepared
to answer questions effectively. "It's
obvious during interviews whether the
applicant is a good communicator-
which is a must," he says.
Yu warns that managers have
more responsibilities and-more
importantly-deal with all types
of people. If you cannot work well
with people in various roles, he says,
becoming a manager might not be
the right move for you. ◆


individual engineer to you as a leader.
As manager, it's all about teamwork."
With that, you give up stardom, Yu
says: "The recognition goes to your
team-even if you help it leap over multiple hurdles. You will become the star
only if your team members are stars."
Therefore, he says, it's key to be a
mentor to your engineers. "Instead of
you being the smartest person in the
room," he says, "leverage their expertise to help the team deliver outstanding results. You will be rewarded for it."
And once you're recognized by
your employer, be sure to share that
recognition with your team, Condry
says. Companies tend to spotlight
some employees over others-which
dissuades people from doing their best
work and reduces the overall effectiveness of the team, he adds.
Also, create an environment in which
people want to work for you. Condry
suggests welcoming their feedback and
demonstrating that you care about them
and respect them as professionals.
But that doesn't mean being easy
on them. "Good managers know how
to draw out the best in their team,"
Condry says.

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