Soft Skills - Finding common ground in technical and managerial careers.
Daily we find ourselves at a crossroads because we have to make decisions.
Although it is true that some of these decisions can affect or influence our future career paths, the outcomes are not irrevocable. In other words, a single “good” career pick made today does not necessarily predetermine a successful career in the future.
Technical and managerial career paths are not mutually exclusive. On the extreme ends of the job spectrum in the oil and gas industry there are unique talents like pure research or general manager. However, for the 80 or 90% of technical management roles in between, there is significant common ground with respect to the journey, accomplishments, recognition, and relative success.
All kinds of research are available that promote particular career paths. Numerous publications offer in-depth academic studies of industry employment trends, statistical compensation analyses, updates on the state of engineering and science graduates around the globe, the significance of personality profiling, the potential relevance of birth order, the differences in generations (baby boomers vs. millennials), the value of diversity and inclusion, the effectiveness of mentoring programs, and even attempts to plot career roadmaps Feng Shui-style. These types of studies do offer insight and encouragement as well as being catalysts for self-introspection, awareness, and observation. They often provide a framework or structure that so many of us need or believe we need to organize, plan, and control our lives. They do their best to: explain “why” people act the way they do, delineate “who” might have natural abilities or aptitudes, and ultimately attempt to predict future behaviors. However, I do not believe that any one of them present a magic bullet, right answer, or single path to success.