Managerial thoughts

Managerial  thoughts

CAREER TIPS - Experiences and lessons learned

Career tips, is the topic of a meeting that the of the "Reseau des Ingénieurs du Quebec" (ReseauIQ), currently Genium360, organized on December 1, 2011 for students and graduated. I was one of those experienced engineers that the ReseauIQ has invited to talk about their career paths and to answer students' questions and concerns about the engineering profession.


In my case, I organized my intervention in two stages. I took 40 minutes to talk about my career story with the lessons to be learned and I reserved another 40 minutes to answer the questions of the attendees and students. My talk revolved around 5 topics. I concluded at the end of each of those topics by the experience and lessons I have learned:


  1.    The choices I had to face after my first university graduation:  Continuing education or going to work.

  2.    My first steps as engineer: Learning and field reality.
  3.    My evolution in the internal environment of the company: Management meetings, dealing with the senior management, unions, etc.
  4.    I worked in my own business with former colleagues as shareholders: Advantages and disadvantages.
  5.    I started from scratch my professional career in a new country and in a new cultural and politico-social environment.


I have also to admit that I was pleasantly surprised by the vivacity of the students' minds and the relevance of some of their questions. Honestly, I did not expect it. I am not going to reveal all the questions that the graduates and students have asked and the ensuing debate, but I choose in the mess only three of them:


  • What is the point of being a member of the “Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec” insofar as my specialty is focused primarily on manufacturing products and does not require any requirements (engineering title) with the exception of my competence on field.
  • I am an immigrant with an engineering degree from my home country, but by wanting to be member of the “Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec”, I have been required to pass several exams. Do you believe or rather advise me that I have to continue the registration process?
  • How to advance in your professional career without a boost? I know two or three engineers who have not evolved one iota. They are still in the same position over 5 years.




Continuing education or going to work.



After having got my graduation in ME Engineering in 1978, the Algerian Ministry of Higher Education offered me a scholarship to prepare a doctorate in Hungary that I refused. I'd rather go for short studies in Spain to specialize in telecommunication engineering, an area I liked a lot. I worked with engineers from a Spanish company owned by the multinational ITT, with whom I learned a lot. Then, I worked in a test and reliability lab that I personally called the torture chamber. We were performing endurance testing on samples of components and devices (telephone sets, telephone exchanges, etc.) manufactured by one of the SESA-ITT's facilities located in a suburb of Madrid. The results of these tests allowed us to measure the reliability of the equipment that this factory was delivering to the main telephone company that operated in Spain in the 1980s. 





1         Listen to the advice your elders give you, but follow your own instinct to choose the job you want to do in the future. Always keep in mind that you are solely responsible for 

           your professional destiny;


2         Do not hesitate to question yourself if the first choice you make does not satisfy you. It would be better to start from scratch than spend your professional life doing a job you

          do not like.




Learning and field reality



After a stay of few years in Spain, I returned to Algeria to work in a telecommunication company. My first experience in this business began with a misunderstanding. My supervisor made an astonishing decision with our main customer by changing the telephone noise background tolerances the telephone devises that one of my technician teams was testing. He verbally asked me to apply the decision he made with our main customer. The explanations I gave him for reviewing his decision did not convince him. The losses that the company would suffer by applying these new tolerances did not change his mind, either. The initial tolerances we used to control the devices were already in line with international standards and in some cases even better than those in place by some multinationals. The costs that this decision would generate were going to be huge for the company. The results I had on hand allowed me, by using some simple statistical rules, to predict an unnecessary rejection rate that would be around 25% of the products manufactured.Two things had bothered me by the decision made by my supervisor.


  • He did not consult the concerned persons to make to this decision; on top of that, he did not follow the procedures for engineering and specification changes that the company had implemented.
  • He had asked me verbally to apply a decision he had made. The verbal instructions he gave me were not accompanied by written notes. The question of traceability and responsibility for such decision was seriously questionable.

For my part, I had to explain this verbal decision that my supervisor have made to my staff, but I did not know how to do it. This decision did not meet the internal processes in place for the engineering changes and increased significantly the manufacturing costs.


I did not want to compromise the rule I had imposed on myself. I could not verbally ask my staff to apply a technical decision that my supervisor made. I did not want to criticize the decision he made in front of my immediate collaborators either. But I did not want to explain and justify a decision that did not personally convince me.


I finally decided to write a note that I sent to my colleagues with a copy to my supervisor. The note was written as follows:

"Following the decision made by the Director of Operations on May 24, 1981, I invite you starting today to proceed with the background checks of model SWA081 telephones with the following specifications: ...".


The note I wrote, obviously did not please to my supervisor. It was only at this moment that he called in his office and explained me that the decision he made was just a transitional measure to respond to a specific request of our main customer.





1         Always associate your relevant employees in the decision you make . This is the best way to ensure its effective application in the field.


2         A manager is not a military leader who gives orders and the soldiers execute. He is rather a leader who influences and inspires to achieve common goals with his team. He

           must train and guide his team through informed decisions.


If want more about this article, please click here : 12---Career-Tips---Experiences-and-lessons-learned.pdf

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