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Young engineers and "career magic"

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by Patricia Williams

At some juncture in their careers, young engineers may be confronted with a tough career choice: remain in a technical position or move into the ranks of management.
Young engineers and "career magic"

At some juncture in their careers, young engineers may be confronted with a tough career choice: remain in a technical position or move into the ranks of management.

Simon Davidson, a 26-year-old transportation engineer at Quebec-based Roche Ltd., a consulting engineering firm specializing in engineering construction, says young professionals (YPs) are being asked to assume leadership positions “earlier than ever” as a result of shifting workforce demographics.

“Many get to a point where they are juggling with technical and management aspects at the same time,” said Davidson, who chairs a network set up by the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies-Canada (ACEC) to facilitate communications between YP groups across the country.

Consequently, Davidson found a session at the ACEC’s recent summit pertinent from a professional perspective. Ottawa-based consultant Cam Gregg, principal in Gregg Advisory, gave a presentation entitled: “Choose your future: manager or expert.” The session was one of several tailored to meet the needs of young professionals, considered the future leaders of the industry. A total of 18 attended the summit.

In his presentation, Gregg said his intention was to help young engineers make more conscious career decisions by providing some perspectives on “the magic ingredients” of a great job or career and an analysis of the requisite skills of technical experts as opposed to managers.

“Success is personal,” Gregg said.

“Career magic happens when we do what we enjoy and what we are good at. What makes us good at managing is different than what makes us good at being an expert.” Davidson said the presentation gave young professionals “a very good perspective” on the respective roles and responsibilities of both technical and management personnel.

“The key idea was how to change your mind-set when moving from one position to the other,” he said. “This change is necessary to achieve both high (on-the-job) performance and good work/life balance. For the younger generation, balance between work and personal life is very important.”

At another session, young professionals got tips on how to build lasting client relationships from veteran consulting engineer Andrew Steeves, a senior strategic adviser at exp Services Inc.

The summit was held at the Rodd Brudenell River Resort in Prince Edward Island.

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