Lateral moves

The engineering manager had worked assiduously at the company for many years. Although he had been highly effective in his role, the managing director of the company realised that it was time for a new, younger chap to take the reins.

But the managing director wasn’t stupid. He also recognised that the middle-aged manager had served the company well over the years. Indeed, he had developed some of the company’s more innovative products that had significantly boosted the revenue of the company.

Nevertheless, because of his age, the older individual wasn’t quite as animated as he used to be, and it was obvious to the folks that ran the business that they would have to find him a new position in the company.

Because the company sincerely did not want to lose him, the managing director decided to create a new role for his hardworking middle-aged engineering manager – one that was more of a lateral move, rather than a demotion, and one where the chap in question could continue to use his skills to the benefit of the company.

But when he suggested the idea to the middle-aged man, it was initially met with some scepticism. You see, it didn’t appear all that obvious to the older fellow that his new role – working with academia to investigate potential technology transfer deals – had the same kudos as his former role. Initially, he felt that the lateral promotion would see him do no more than slide down the slippery slope to retirement.

But the managing director put an entirely different spin on the affair, insisting to the engineering manager that the new role was equally as important as his former one. During the course of a rather lengthy meeting, he convinced him to take on the new position by complimenting him on his enormous breadth of knowledge – expertise, he said, would be invaluable in the new position.

For the first two years in his new role, things didn’t go all that well for the middle-aged manager. Although he worked tirelessly, spending hours introducing himself to many folks in the academic community, many of the ideas and technologies they were developing did not seem at all relevant to his company’s products.

But the engineering manager persevered, and, as the results of his tenacity, he finally stumbled across one new technology that he felt certain could be used to his company’s advantage. And, as a result of months of work with the key academic developers, he set up a technology transfer deal to license the technology and integrate it into one of his own company’s products.

It’s proved a win-win-win situation for everyone. The managing director’s management style was vindicated, the company now has an exciting new stream of revenue from the new product, and the older engineering manager is again finding his new role rewarding as the ideas he is transferring from academia are becoming an increasingly important part of the company’s revenue stream.

Indeed, the middle-aged manager has actually been so successful that the managing director has now given him the responsibility for training younger members of the engineering team to help them to identify how academic research can be applied to the company’s business.

Dave Wilson
Editor, Electronicstalk

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