Archive for April, 2011|Monthly archive page

Importance of Transferable Skills

In Uncategorized on April 22, 2011 at 1:47 pm

As you grow higher in the corporate ladder your transferable skills matter more than the technical skills. This is often a shocking discovery for someone in the high-tech industry. An excellent engineer gets promoted to a manager and finds out his / her world has turned upside down. For instance, what enabled success as an engineer is sometimes an obstacle to your success as a manager.

Your ability to analyze a given situation, identify opportunities and make improvements are transferable skills. Your ability to code in Java or Verilog is not a transferable skill as you move up the ladder. Lets consider a few of my examples:

  • As an ASIC Engineer at a start-up, I was responsible for system verification along with two other team members. At the end of the week, the management summed up the number of regressions by each person to assess their performance. You get what you measure – the other two members worked hard to push up their numbers each week. I came up with a out of the box solution. I automated the  verification process with scripts so that the regressions were done with or without me. This boosted our productivity significantly. After saving money and reducing cycle-time, I moved on to lead other parts of ASIC development. Now, how do you transfer this ‘process’ thinking to a different situation? Read the next item…
  • In a completely different role from hardware engineering, I was leading the sales operations for a Fortune 100 company. The team I inherited ran the same reports everyday manually. Every time I needed information, the team had to go through a lot of data processing. Worse yet, the information gathered was always looking backward instead of forecasting. I hired a IT team and designed a business intelligence application that automated the report generation, provided instant dashboard for different levels of details customized to the viewers need, and more importantly provided forecast so that I can scale my resources appropriately. This increased productivity. We were able to serve our customers better by predicting their needs and being proactive in providing solutions. I relieved the team of mundane tasks and assigned them to higher-order work.

With effort and practice you can transfer your skills to many different aspects of business. You can bring fresh ideas and implement solutions regardless of what role you take. Learn the tactical skills needed for the job so you are competent. Focus on developing and nurturing your transferable skills.