Transitioning from Engineering to Management – Part 1 “The Decision”

As I’ve recently changed role within the past two months I have decided to articulate my reflections on a decision I made over 2 years ago regarding the transition away from direct engineering roles, this is part one in a 3 part series discussing my decision to make the move, the things I’ve learned along the way and what it has ultimately led me to.

Part 1.

In the summer of 2015, I’d made the decision to start the transition from IT engineering roles that I had been in for ten years previous to more leadership focused roles.

As a stereotypical logical technical person, I spent a long time thinking about the pros and cons of doing this. Here are a few that I came up with during that process:

Pros

  • Opportunity to lead and develop others in their careers
  • Opportunity to develop myself as a leader
  • New challenges and diversification of skills
  • Opportunity to contribute at a higher level to the business
  • Raising my profile within the business

Cons

  • Time available for technical work will be significantly reduced
  • The number of meetings will be significantly increased
  • Perceptions may be that I’m “past it”

It’s worth noting that these lists are not exhaustive as I’m reflecting upon this I am recalling what I considered at the time and in discussions with friends and family and so no tangible list like this ever existed while I was making the decision is does roughly reflect the pros and cons I had considered.

In the end, I decided that the pros outweighed the cons by a significant margin and so in November 2015 I officially took on the role of Service Desk Manager at brightsolid. This list of pros and cons were not the only deciding factors. I had been in the engineering role I was in for just over 3 years at that point which is a personal limit for when I start to feel like I’m stagnating career-wise.

I feel a pretty strong affinity for the phrase that Pop used to say to Luke Cage. “Always Forward. Forward, Always.” This pretty much sums up how I like to progress my career if it’s a step backwards or sideways it doesn’t feel like forward so taking the leap into leadership satisfied this need.

I need to feel that I am being challenged as that’s ultimately what leads to progression. If you’re never out of your comfort zone you’re not learning and not improving.

Making a decision like this is something that most engineers will face in their careers in IT. To stay an engineer usually means to become an expert or consultant in a specific field, to move to management and leadership usually means to let go of a lot of the hands-on engineering. Ultimately it’s a very personal choice and will always come down to each individual’s personal values.

To satisfy my own personal value, to push myself forward, it was really an easy decision. Hopefully when it comes time for you to decide it will be equally as easy but if not then maybe this article will help in some way.