Last night I attended the 40th anniversary dinner of the Federation of Engineering Institutions of Asia and the Pacific (FEIAP). I was honoured to sit at the main table among all the Presidents of Engineering Institutions of FEIAP.
After I have listened to all the speeches, especially the one “New challenges for Engineers”, I think it is necessary for me to write this article. All of them were talking about how to improve the Engineering profession. In short, they said “An Architect’s dream is an Engineer’s nightmare”.
Among the 1,100 listed companies in Malaysia, I think Engineers play the leading role in less than 100 of all the listed companies. Why?
The main reason is that Engineers spend too much time in worrying about solving technical problems. The highest position most of them can attain is factory managers and not owners of the business.
How to correct this imbalance?
First, I think it is necessary to change the mindset of engineers to be more business minded. Currently they spend too much time worrying about solving technical problems and not enough time thinking about making money.
Secondly, the teaching of the engineering syllabus must be changed. Most of subjects are loaded with mathematics. In fact, most engineers do not use higher mathematics, except addition and subtraction in their practice.
Thirdly, subjects like business management, finance, communication skill etc should be taught so that Engineers are better equipped to do business.
I have been one of the founders of Mudajaya, Gamuda and IJM Corporation. I wish to share with you my experience in doing business.
Fortunately, after practising as an engineer for a few years, I realised unless I do business I would not be able to make more money. I also realised I needed to enter into partnership with people with practical experience. My first 3 partners were small time construction contractors who did not even speak English.