×
INTELLIGENT WORK FORUMS
FOR ENGINEERING PROFESSIONALS

Log In

Come Join Us!

Are you an
Engineering professional?
Join Eng-Tips Forums!
  • Talk With Other Members
  • Be Notified Of Responses
    To Your Posts
  • Keyword Search
  • One-Click Access To Your
    Favorite Forums
  • Automated Signatures
    On Your Posts
  • Best Of All, It's Free!
  • Students Click Here

*Eng-Tips's functionality depends on members receiving e-mail. By joining you are opting in to receive e-mail.

Posting Guidelines

Promoting, selling, recruiting, coursework and thesis posting is forbidden.

Students Click Here

Navigating the Corporate World
5

Navigating the Corporate World

Navigating the Corporate World

(OP)
Hi all,

Long time reader, first time poster.

I just started a new job with a public electrical utility. I have previous experience with power production and the oil and gas industry. I'm thrilled to be with the utility now and the plan is to stay there as long as possible. It's a big company with lots of room for growth and advancement. I'm 26, been out of school only a few years.

I have always been extremely interested in the energy/utility sector, from generation to T&D, generation in particular. I stay up to date with the industry by reading articles, magazines, etc., and I have a few years of technical experience already, so I feel like I have pretty good knowledge for my relatively young age.

However, I am unsure how exactly to translate these interests into success at my job. I want to do well, and I have set ambitious goals for myself, but I find sometimes it is easy to get overwhelmed by the corporate world. This isn't school anymore, where you can just get good marks and then be rewarded accordingly. There is a whole other dimension to success, including networking, being a good team player, so on and so forth.

I guess my questions are: how to navigate the corporate world? How to ensure your work and interest gets noticed, rather than just getting lost in the shuffle? How to be proactive but not viewed as a "suck up" or "too gung ho"?

Thanks

RE: Navigating the Corporate World

You have not mentioned your assigned job in the company. What is it?
Regardless of other goals, concentrate on performing well at that position. Other actions will depend on how that job is interrelated with other departments.

www.SlideRuleEra.net idea
www.VacuumTubeEra.net r2d2

RE: Navigating the Corporate World

Much of your exposure will have to do with your communications skills and you ability to get along with people. No one can notice your work if you can't explain it at whatever level of detail is required; some may need a bird's eye view, while others might want to get into the weeds. If you know your stuff and can communicate your results and their impacts clearly and concisely, then you should do fine. In presenting charts, you should be comfortable with them to the point of it being a casual conversation.

TTFN
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert!
homework forum: //www.engineering.com/AskForum/aff/32.aspx
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers

RE: Navigating the Corporate World

You say you've set goals for yourself, but what about the goals that your boss/supervisor has set for you?
When confronted with a situation where you know that someone senior to you is incorrect/uniformed, be sure to correct them is such a way so as to not come off as brash. "I recall reading...", "I believe there's a new line of thought...", "<magazine name> just had an article..."

Interact with your coworkers during breaks/lunch. Ask about their interests to find common ground. Your work, if done well, will speak for itself as time goes on. If you find you have spare time, ask for other assignments outside of your comfort zone so that you can expand it.

Never, ever, be afraid to ask questions or to take ownership of mistakes.

Jeff Mirisola, CSWE
My Blog

RE: Navigating the Corporate World

After 35 years in industry I would say one of the most important things you could do would be to make sure that anything with your name on it is clear, concise, complete, and easy for non-engineers (managers) to understand. Do not fall prey to the temptation (as so many of your generation) to ignore little things like spelling, punctuation, grammar, and capitalization. If you produce drawings, use lineweights to enhance quick understanding. Understand that anyone who sees your work gets an immediate first impression, which cannot be undone. If your product is complex or sloppy, their impression will be one of incompetence. Maybe all the information is there and accurate, but they are less likely to dig for it if the first impression is not good.

Go above and beyond. Look for problems to solve. The more you are seen as a problem solver by everyone around you the more your name will come up.

RE: Navigating the Corporate World

(OP)
Thanks for the answers, very helpful.

My role is project coordination and I will be in the field a lot, working with contractors, organizing schedules, etc. Can you offer any advice specific to this?

Also, my boss has yet to lay out any specific expectations for me, and I've been having some difficulty getting those questions answered.

Any more feedback is greatly appreciated.

Thanks

RE: Navigating the Corporate World

ds94 - I'll be happy to share my thoughts on an electric utility career, but you need to provide more specific information about where you are now: Distribution? Transmission? Generation? Support Services? Etc.

Also, what is the long-term goal? CEO? Vice-President? Generation Plant Manager? Group Manager? Lead Engineer? (Which Department)?, Etc.

www.SlideRuleEra.net idea
www.VacuumTubeEra.net r2d2

RE: Navigating the Corporate World

(OP)
My apologies for not being more specific, I'm on the T&D side, coordinating field construction of upgrades/additions to our infrastructure.

Long term I don't have a specific title in mind, but I do want a high level position. I want to be highly involved in making the utility as efficient and modern as possible in all aspects. I'm highly interested in renewable energy (and very well aware of its limitations) and the various ways we can diversify our energy mix, and incorporating new technologies such as smart grids and micro grids.

As I mentioned, I find the workings of the corporate world overwhelming at times, and I'm just unsure how I can actually carve out the path I desire. Having these goals may not set me apart from someone who doesn't if we're both in the same complicated environment where it is difficult to get results.

Thanks for the input.

RE: Navigating the Corporate World

3
Becoming familiar with the workings of the corporate structure will take time. You are in a pretty good place to begin. Of course you should have routine contract with others in both Transmission and Distribution. Since those projects are tied in the Substations, there should be contact there, too. Working with contracts should give you exposure to Purchasing (bid evaluations and contract payments). The big part of the company you will not deal with is Generation.

Suggested Short to Intermediate Goals:

1. As I stated in my fist post, learn all aspects of your current job, and excel at it. The best advertisement you can have is for other employees to ask that you, by name, be assigned to support their project.

2. If you don't have it, obtain your PE. This is emphasized more in the utilities than in other industries - has to do with the company's close contact with the general public and the value of having employees with "recognized" professional credentials.

3. Obtain a Masters Degree, either in Engineering or an MBA. A few months ago, I assembled a list of about 75 colleges and universities, in the USA, that offer on-line Masters in various fields of Engineering. One program in particular comes to mind for you - Gonzaga University's Master of Engineering In Transmission & Distribution. Here is a link to the web page: Link
Your company probably has a tuition reimbursement plan, especially for work related education.

4. After a time, apply for an engineering job at one of your generating stations - this will give you the opportunity to learn the "nuts and bolts" of the generation side of the business. Also, since generation is at the heart of electric utility operation, it is always good to have experience in the company's core business on your resume.

That should keep you busy for a few years. There is a conflict between your long term goal of (expensive) "Big Picture" improvements and utility operations. A utility has to be both profitable and reliable - progress comes in small steps.

There may be a way around this for you. After you have completed the above steps to gain real experience in the industry. Look into employment at the "Electric Power Research Institute" (EPRI). You may find that what they do is more inline with your long term goal.
Here is the link: Link

www.SlideRuleEra.net idea
www.VacuumTubeEra.net r2d2

RE: Navigating the Corporate World

(OP)
Terrific post, thank you.

RE: Navigating the Corporate World

ds94,

There is a button for that. Great Post!

Good luck,
Latexman

To a ChE, the glass is always full - 1/2 air and 1/2 water.

RE: Navigating the Corporate World

A few things I have found beneficial in assimilating to the corporate world:

1. When responding to management, especially on something technical, I've adopted the "Twitter" approach. If your response on the issue is much longer than a "tweet", they will lose interest in a hurry, and/or not even bother reading it.

2. Money talks. If you have a project, idea, cost savings measure that fits in with your interests... quantify it. Do a breakdown, give them hard numbers of saving $XXX per quarter/year/whatever. The suck-ups tend to get ahead early, but it only takes one "oops" that costs some bucks before they are booted out of the friend-zone and into low-visibility, crappy PM positions (not insinuating that PM positions are crappy in general.)

3. Diversify - Going along with one of Slide Rule's themes above, if you find things are slow, engage your management in talks about cross-discipline training. If you're a technical mastermind, they will peg you as such. However, when that dream slot opens, and they have the option of choosing between the technical mastermind and the technical mastermind who knows proposals, scheduling, project/cost controls, etc., you can guess who they'll go with if they promote from within.

4. Be humble. Even big industries tend to be smaller, and faces familiar, than we often give credit for. In my short career, I've already lost track of the "how the heck are ya's" and "haven't seen you in ages." The young guy who may be technically savvy has no idea how closely connected the "idiot" on the other end of the phone is with internal/external customers or the titans of their respective industries (code committee members, etc.) Being respectful and factual goes a long way.

5. Be helpful, but don't try to cover for the shortcomings of others. You don't have the time. When you're an expert in subject X, people will loosely connect that with subject Y. It's OK to say "no, that's not my area." Otherwise, you will become the "I need you to review/do this for me" of every department, and before long, you will be failing to achieve your own goals by being the crutch for others to achieve theirs.

RE: Navigating the Corporate World

Another long time utility person here, and I second this by JBoggs:

"After 35 years in industry I would say one of the most important things you could do would be to make sure that anything with your name on it is clear, concise, complete, and easy for non-engineers (managers) to understand."

To this, I would add advice that you creat work flows for just about everything you do. Out in the field supervising construction? Set up a work flow for dealing with submittals. Who sends what to whom? Who is responsible for signing off, and who just provides input? How do disposed submittals get back to the contractor? How are everyone's comments documented? Etc.

Start doing this, and you will soon gain greater and greater responsibility.

Red Flag This Post

Please let us know here why this post is inappropriate. Reasons such as off-topic, duplicates, flames, illegal, vulgar, or students posting their homework.

Red Flag Submitted

Thank you for helping keep Eng-Tips Forums free from inappropriate posts.
The Eng-Tips staff will check this out and take appropriate action.

Reply To This Thread

Posting in the Eng-Tips forums is a member-only feature.

Click Here to join Eng-Tips and talk with other members! Already a Member? Login


Resources

White Paper - How ESI is Helping Move New Medical Device Product to Market Quicker & More Cost Effic
Early Supplier Involvement has long been a strategy employed by manufacturers to produce innovative products. Now, it almost seems like a necessity. Because decisions made in the design phase can positively affect product quality and costs, this can help add value to OEM bottom lines. This white paper will discuss many facets of ESI, including why it’s so valuable today, what challenges limit the benefits of ESI, how cost is impacted, and more. Download Now

Close Box

Join Eng-Tips® Today!

Join your peers on the Internet's largest technical engineering professional community.
It's easy to join and it's free.

Here's Why Members Love Eng-Tips Forums:

Register now while it's still free!

Already a member? Close this window and log in.

Join Us             Close