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Career Transition - Engineer to Business Leader


Robert Taft Woodinville, WA

Hi everyone, I want to thank you in advance for any feedback,

I am currently an engineer who is trying to make a career advancement from engineering to a business leadership position with a technical companies, think your Boeings, Lockheed Martins, etc. I am currently pursuing my MBA, but I have not had any traction on jobs. I've applied for both manager positions and entry positions. If anyone is willing to review my resume that would be very much appreciated.

20 September 2016 17 replies Career Advancement



John Nerison Boise, ID

Be glad to talk to you. I was in consulting engineering for over thirty years. 406-690-3388


James Moran Arlington, VA

Hey Robert - former nuke here that took a similar path (minus the MBA) and landed in IT field. It may be tough to walk in at the Manager level without specific "business" experience; good to see you're open to the entry level path. I'm happy to review your resume and chat further if you'd like.


Jim Jones Getzville, NY

Good Morning Robert, I am happy to review your resume. You have received some great advice. Notably, does your resume demonstrate leadership, decision making critical reasoning skills? Secondly, keep adding to and enhancing your leadership experiences by taking on new projects that demonstrate leadership skills. And last, conduct information interviews with your target companies to determine competencies and attributes the hiring manager is seeking.


Duane Martin Winfield, IL

I would encourage you to take "Strength Finders" or some other assessment that confirms your desire to lead people. There are quite a few assessment available that might be helpful. I would also encourage you to think about exploring Technical Sales roles, the people that support Sales people, or a management role in that area. You can always transition into Sales/Sales Leadership if you like it. Even at a Boeing for example, I would imagine they have those roles.

A goof friend of mine worked at Boeing, left for technical sales at IBM then transitioned to Sales and has been very pleased with that path, especially financially.

I currently work at IBM (another responder spoke highly of that experience and I agree).

Glad to review your Resume or talk. As always, thank you for your service! I've been doing CrossFit owned by a SEAL at our local Box, you Navy guys are strong!


Angela Speziale Wallkill, NY

Hi Robert,
I'm happy to review your resume, send it along
Is there a specific area of business leadership you're interested in? Hiring managers
like if you're great with numbers, marketing, forecasting, team building, etc.
it helps them find a fit. They like experience in the sector or discipline.

Also, researching your target companies challenges and sending along relevant press and information helps you stand out. Find a leader in the area you want to be in and contact them directly, saying you don't want to break with protocol but you're excited to join the team and simply wanted to break through the clutter.

Look forward to receiving your resume.


Jim Schreier Milwaukee, WI

I'm happy to review your resume.


John Nance Murfreesboro, TN


I have been a wireless communications engineer for 27 years and have been a engineering manager for the last 20 of those. I have several suggestions:

1) The MBA is great, and that will give you leg up for management level positions
2) You don't have to be a manager to be a leader. What I mean by that is you can take on leadership roles which will give you experience. This experience can be translated into managerial skills and presented on your resume.
3) Search out projects at your current job. Talk to your supervisor about heading up projects or activities. it shows initiative (which is a huge attribute I look for when hiring managers) and it also gives you experience you can build on.
4) Search out managerial training at work, or even on your own. There are many free online classes and seminars that can help build your skills as well as give you additional education items for your resume.
5) Don't be afraid to branch out. Search for opportunities to expand your knowledge base. The more diverse your background, the more valuable an asset you become. About 5 years ago, I moved into a position managing a team of Construction & Engineering managers. It was out of my wheelhouse at the time, but I have now learned that side of the business and doubled my opportunities for advancement.

I would be happy to review your resume. I have hired many managers (most of them entry level) over the years.

Best of luck in your search. I hope this helps.


James Bishop Columbus, OH

Does your resume look like a person in a leadership position? If not you will not get a position in leadership.

When you want to change who your are professional you need a resume the looks like the person you want to be (the person you are now - be in the present). You do this through including volunteer work, advanced education and certifications.


Michael Del Vecchio Killingworth, CT

Hi Robert,

I finished degrees in computer science and mechanical engineering during and after service. I transitioned from engineering to management after I had my first few technical jobs. My experience was varied - from intellectually stimulating to exciting to frightening. I ended my career with a stint as a CTO, often thought I should have stayed in engineering. Contact me if you want to talk about my experiences and thoughts. Welcome home.


Jim Schmidtlein Rockville, MD

Happy to review your resume and provide feedback… I would recommend that you look at your current resume/experience from the perspective of someone that is completely non-technical and challenge yourself to a re-write your summary with this audience as your target audience. If you can illustrate well-rounded experience that combines your technical expertise with a measurable business outcome and team leadership you will expand your potential appeal.


Bob Molluro Wilmington, DE

Robert, I had a similar euphony after my third year in engineering school that I preferred management. I spoke to a professor who listened and said. Since you are doing well in engineering, secure that degree. Take all your electives in business and get an MBA at night. Great advice which I followed. My initial job after college was in a management development program with Bell of Pa. I learned quickly that I had picked a stodgy company that wanted me to learn how they did things for the last 40 years. It was like a death sentence. I left and joined IBM in the good old days when mainframe computers were just coming into the forefront. I spent seven years in sales before being promoted to a regional assignment where they sourced all their managers. I made a great living as a sales person. In my ninth year I got my first management assignment and then proceeded to move rapidly up the ranks and eventually became a Senior VP with a major competitor of IBM's. It had all the trappings that come with corporate America. Eventually I decided to move on with my own company. All the corporate training and experiences have paid off. Having my own business where I don't worry about corporate layoffs and shareholder pressures is ideal. I am having the time of my life and enjoying every minute. One last word of advice is don't focus on resumes , focus on finding sponsors who can open the right doors. This strategy will eventually pay off. You need some advocates not the best resume on the planet.


George Wilhelmsen Rochelle, IL

Hi Robert,

I like your plans. I work for Exelon - we seldom hire people off the street for leadership positions - we need some time to see people in role. Leaders tend to emerge in that environment, and then we look to promote them from there.

What this comes down to is that I think you should use your Engineering Degree and show an employer what you can do, and then in 3 to 5 years, leverage that experience into the leadership position you desire.

While there, take every opportunity to demonstrate leadership, whether it is to lead a team, take over an employee resource group, or a task your manager needs help with. These positions (particularly employee resource groups) have some visibility with management, and by showing your leadership skills, you'll be positioned to be noticed and asked to take on that larger roll.

As to having an engineering degree and a JD, I agree that is a powerful combination. However, most lawyers will tell you that the market is flooded right now. Choose carefully - find a job you love, and you won't work a day in your life.

Best wishes - if you'd like me to look at your resume, I'd be happy to.


Sean Butler Keller, TX

I'd also be happy to review your resume and give you some feedback!


Sara Bagby New York, NY

Robert -

Your MBA program should also be able to support you with resume review and career services. Depending on where you are in your MBA, you may just be off on timing. Most major companies have a recruiting cadence - they look at undergrad hires at certain times of the year, MBA candidates at other times, etc. If you have campus recruiting through your program, they should be able to provide you a schedule, and if not I would reach out to hiring managers / recruiting managers for the companies you are interested in on LinkedIn and ask them what their MBA hiring process is. I'm also happy to review your resume if you'd like.

Good luck!




You have an Engineerng degree? Good!

My advice: Get a Juris Doctor. The MBA is OK but you will run into loads, and loads of folks with MBA's, but darn few with degrees in Engineering plus a JD. Get a job during the day and find a good Law School that has an accredited evening program: (University of San Diego is one), This is what I did and it served me very well indeed.

My 30 plus years experience:

Few, if any, Engineers know anything about contracts and the Law;

Few, if any, Lawyers know anything about Engineering and construction. Move in and fill that gap.

Good luck.


Roger Bhalla Houston, TX

Robert, you can send me your resume, and I'll review it. I'm a former engineer that got an MBA and have been in management for close to 20 years now in technical companies.


Trisha Stucker Irvine, CA

I'd be happy to look at it and give feedback.


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