I have a UBC Management student who is an excellent coder. He picked up his skills on his own, probably as far back as junior high school. But in talking with him now, he says that he hates coding. I told him that was perfectly normal and acceptable. Not everyone is cut out to be hacker. But I did emphasize to him that his experience and skills in the world of software would serve him well in his management career. It is my firm belief that not enough emphasis is placed on these skills in the Brave New World of management, rapidly morphing into one Big Data, Cloud, and Smart Mobile hairball. We can argue when, where and by whom it should be taught, but I urge all of my students to consider developing some of these skills, as being important to their management success. In the attached HBR Blog Network article below, students were polled as to the usefulness of one Harvard basic undergraduate course in computer science. My most important take away from that poll was the response from many students, that while they could not code and were not particularly technical, taking the course improved their confidence in dealing with engineering types, software development issues, the Web, and technical computing matters generally. I had the great good fortune to begin my career in the early days of Intel, but without any technical training. I thank my lucky stars for the education that Intel provided me. That kind of process is no longer feasible.
At the request of Professor Ray Taheri of the UBC Engineering Faculty, I gave this guest lecture to all 4th year engineering students in ENGR 499 Capstone Project. From my background in entrepreneurial mentorship and entrepreneurial finance, I focused on the unique challenges engineers face in considering starting and developing a new venture. I discuss the full range of issues, but my personal emphasis, from experience, is the “character” issue. Some excellent engineers have successfully made the transition to entrepreneurship and executive management, but for others the odyssey is a bridge too far. Consequently, I place significant emphasis on honest self-analysis and appreciation of one’s strengths and weaknesses. Listening is a priceless skill.