After reading the article "ListenUp Corporate America," (DN 04.10.06, http://rbi.ims.ca/4930-506), it seems as if there are many unhappy engineers out there. It is easy to blame others. I offer an alternative — take matters into your own hands.
Over the years, I have often asked employees who is responsible for their careers. You'd be surprised at how many people think it is their employer's responsibility.
Let's go back to Business 101 and understand "the goal" of any company. Help your customers solve their problems faster than your competitors. I submit that if an organization can do that, it and all its employees will prosper. Period.
Who discovers these customer problems? Who creates the solutions? Many companies don't give this much thought. These companies are the followers. They look and see what is selling in the market and then copy this approach with similar offerings. Once innovation has occurred elsewhere, as it has in these companies, the engineer is relegated to the role of interchangeable part. If India has a cheaper supply of these interchangeable engineers, they will ultimately set the wages that the market will pay for these services.
If this is your job, accept the future in store for you. Or, take responsibility to change your future.
In an organization that is really concentrating on attaining "the goal," you will find that engineers work closely with marketing and sales and their efforts are highly appreciated by everyone. If an engineer is unhappy with his or her career, look deeper. You may not be close enough to the front lines.
If you want to make sure your change is the right one, go to a small company. These companies compete every day. Every person knows who is carrying their water and who is not. In larger companies, I sometimes think that top management long ago forgot about "the goal."
I started my career with a very large company. Our division was self-contained with about 220 engineers and 2,500 total employees, mostly in manufacturing. The manufacturing personnel were unionized. To improve performance, the plant was shut down by our corporate "leaders" and everyone was terminated. A new, non-union plant was started in El Paso, TX. Oh, the engineers were offered jobs in El Paso, but only one engineer moved the 1,700 miles. The company struggled for years and eventually got out of the manufacturing business all together. Why? Many of these engineers were great engineers. They were buried in the organization and were too far from the "leadership" of the company.
Today, I work for a small company where we are enjoying significant growth and everyone is benefiting. The owner knows all of the employees by name, most of their families, and interestingly enough we are performing cutting-edge work here and the top employees receive compensation packages that are greater than their counterparts in large, public companies (don't you love the Internet?). We have a need for many more capable people who will personally benefit from their association with this company. Hopefully this will be my last stop. My only problem? How we keep from losing our smallness as we get large.