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Are All Engineers Nerds?
    Photo of Don Sutaria
February 2013   
My dear friends, colleagues, clients and students:

In this issue we have an innovative article regarding our observations on career counseling and career coaching of engineers who are ready to be promoted from a technical level to a supervisory or managerial levels. In a future issue of our newsletter we plan to talk about teachers.

Columbia Career Coaches Network
CareerQuest is proud to announce that Don Sutaria has been accepted as one of the career coaches for Columbia alumni. Designed to give coaching advice to alumni by alumni at discounted rates, the Columbia Career Coaches Network is an invaluable tool to assist alumni in moving within your industry or to strike out in a completely new direction.

The services of these career experts are available to people who are not graduates of Columbia but the discount is not available. Contact Lindsay Hotaling at

CareerQuest's New Website
Please visit our new website at and send us your opinions which we value. It was completely redesigned by Kim Casault of Cruxwire Web. If you need to develop your new website or remodel an existing one at a modest cost, Cruxwire Web is the go-to place. Check it out; you'll be glad you did!

CareerQuest's New LinkedIn Profile
If you have seen our revised LinkedIn Profile, you will notice the high-impact changes done recently by Task Jeanie LLC. Their website is, and her e-mail is High quality work at a reasonable cost.

    Find me on LinkedIn

Book Endorsement
We thank Richard Nelson Bolles for having the confidence to mention us in What Color Is Your Parachute? for eleven years in a row!

Our book, Career and Life Counseling From the Heart (Your Career is a Pathway to Your Soul!), has received many excellent reviews. Richard Nelson Bolles, author of What Color Is Your Parachute? says:

Career and Life Counseling From the Heart book cover
  "Don Sutaria is one of the career counselors I most admire in the U.S. He talks about things other career counselors don't, like "your soul." Now he has written a book I like a lot, with brilliant short chapters you can digest day by day. I recommend it unreservedly to everyone."  

We are deeply grateful for his endorsement.

This book has been nicknamed as Chicken Soup for Your Career! It encapsulates at least fifty different career topics. Take a peek inside this book at before you decide to buy it. It is also available as an e-book from iUniverse.

Over the past ten years, in our newsletters, we have presented you with articles on contemporary career topics. You can find the articles from the last five years in our Newsletter Archive on our website.

Career Doctor Don's Column
Career Doctor Don Answers Your Questions appears as a regular feature in the International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering (ISPE) - New Jersey Chapter newsletters. Visit to read more.

Articles on
Several of our articles will continue to appear on the website The mission of this website is to "Help Garden State Business Grow."

CareerQuest's Blog
If you have not checked out our revamped blog recently, please do so. We have some interesting things to share with you. You can find it at Your feedback is always appreciated.

Until we meet again through the magic of email, keep your feedback coming.

Peace! Love! Shalom!

Don Sutaria, MS, IE (Prof.)
Founder, President & Life-Work Coach

  What Mr. Fred Rogers Can Teach Career Coaches  
  The Latest from the CareerQuest Blog

Ten years ago, Fred Rogers, an educator, Presbyterian minister, songwriter, and television host, died on February 27, 2003, of stomach cancer at age 74. He was the creator and host of the enduring show, Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, for more than three decades. In every show he let the children know that he loved them for who they are....

    Photo of Mr. Rogers by Jim Judkis

  Are All Engineers Nerds?  
  (or Can Engineers Succeed as Managers with Proper Training?)
by Don Sutaria

"Lose a good engineer and gain a poor manager."

- Source unknown     

Who is a Nerd?
If you have ever watched the television series Family Matters, the Steve Urkel character is the very personification of a stereotypical nerd. Very large glasses, braces, bad acne, high-water pants, pocket protector, etc. You get it!

In other words, a nerd is a person typically described as being very intellectual, obsessive-compulsive, or socially impaired. They are portrayed as introverted, unattractive and quirky. Some interests and activities that are described as nerdy are related to science and technology, at the cost of avoiding sports. In most cases, 'nerd' is a derogatory term.

Please understand that I do not mean to suggest that all engineers are nerds.

[Editorial Comments: Would you believe that the author of this article has four separate engineering degrees, - B.S. (electrical), B.S. (mechanical), M.S. (industrial), I.E. (Professional - human resources and international management)? His nicknames in high school were 'scholar', 'mad scientist', and the like, British forerunners of the present American term 'nerd'! He has risen from a technical engineer level to ultimately being promoted to a senior director level in engineering and maintenance, supervising 50 people. His encore career for more than a dozen years has been career coaching and career counseling.]

Engineers need to have at least a basic understanding of the way other segments of the business dovetails with engineering.

Soft Skills
As in many other technical professions, what I am referring to is a group of personality traits which includes, but is not limited to, communication skills, friendliness, personal habits, social graces, language, optimistic attitude and focused listening. Some call it the Emotional Intelligence Quotient but I use a simple word—maturity. Contrary to previous popular beliefs, I believe that with concentrated efforts, all of us can improve in these areas.

Business Skills
Engineers need to have at least a basic understanding of the way other segments of the business dovetail with engineering. For example, in most Master's in Business Administration (MBA) programs, subjects taught are Organizational Behavior, Basic Economics, Managerial Accounting, Operations Management, and Negotiation Skills.

The Crux of Management
  1. The services that managers perform are different from those of engineers.
  2. Managers perform five unique functions: planning, organizing, staffing, directing, controlling.
  3. Managers are required to play three roles (interpersonal, informational, decisional) and apply three skills (conceptual, human relations, technical).
  4. Managerial effectiveness is judged by the team's results.
  5. Managers need to be discerning between various situations and use suitable approaches.

The Six Indispensable Skills
According to The American Management Association (AMA), the core competencies that are needed for managerial success are:

Managerial and Leadership, Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking, Finance, Project Management

The AMA, in their training course, Management Skills for New Managers, provide in-depth coverage of the following seven areas:
Your Role as Manager Performance Management
Effective Communication Situational Leadership
Coaching for Performance Creating a Motivational Climate
Delegation for Growth and Development

Findings of the Institute for Engineering Career Development (IECD)
  • Engineers have no time to develop their careers due to heavy project workloads.
  • Engineering colleges develop technical skills but very few managerial soft skills.
  • Many engineers are unsure of their leap from technical to managerial.
  • Career coaching is sorely needed by engineers to make an informed decision.
  • Engineering careers are too important to be left to chance.

  1. At a certain point in their careers, engineers need to examine their choices of staying in the technical area of engineering and design or taking a leap into the managerial.
  2. It is fully acceptable to stay in the technical area and enjoy your work instead of being miserable in a managerial capacity. Poor managers cause good employees to resign and productivity to plunge.
  3. Professional career guidance is a must before jumping into the managerial sector; it could be a fatal career decision.
  4. If an engineer's mind is made up to switch to the managerial track (which usually has higher compensation), the candidate has to be prepared to develop their non-technical soft skills.
  5. My personal opinion is that becoming a good manager is a learned skill. Of course, you have to enjoy working with people, deal with ambiguous situations, observe tight time deadlines, have a good grasp over oral and written communications in good and bad situations, and invest many more hours on the job. It is not a decision which can be taken lightly.

For a more authentic, fulfilling career, Contact Don


Don Sutaria, also known as "Career Doctor Don", is Founder and President of CareerQuest. He has been quoted frequently in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, on radio and television and has taught at various colleges. He is the author of Career And Life Counseling From The Heart (Your Career is a Pathway to Your Soul!).

Find me on LinkedIn Don Sutaria, M.S., I.E. (Prof.)   
Phone: (908) 686-8400     Fax: (908) 686-8400 (on request)     Cell: (908) 377-9015   
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