Careers rarely develop the way we plan them. Our career path often takes many twists and turns, with particular events, choices and people influencing our direction.

We asked Lynsey Gargan from STEPS to give some advice for people considering this job:

 

Lynsey Gargan

Manufacturing Engineer

STEPS

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  Lynsey Gargan
With regard to education I say don't worry if you think you have the wrong subjects in school. I certainly didn't have the subjects you would typically expect.

There are a number of courses that cater to different backgrounds. The most important thing is to do your research. Go to open days, talk to the colleges and generally just find out what exactly you would be getting in to.

Don't just take for granted you know what a certain course or career is all about. Think about what you like to do, and not just necessarily in school, if you find yourself being curious about how things work or how thing are made, it's a good indication that you could like something like engineering.

One of the best things about engineering is that it really can be your passport to the world. There are great travel opportunities within the industry and chances to be involved in the next big thing.

Practically every man-made product around you came from a manufacturing plant, it's a huge industry with a lot of different avenues to take. Innovation is a really big part of what engineers do. The desire to be creative and improve production and processes is an important attribute for a manufacturing engineer.
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Creative people use their personal understanding of people and the world they live in to guide their work. Creative people like to work in unstructured workplaces, enjoy taking risks and prefer a minimum of routine.
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Sara Haupt - Solution Management

Sara Haupt, talks to Smart Futures about her career as a Fellow in Solution Management Advanced Analytics.

What are the main tasks, responsibilities and skills required?

The solution management team (or Go-To-Market team) works between the customers and the development team. We are talking to potential customers about advanced analytics software and then have to educate them about the new features with the help of proof of concepts that we develop for them. At the same time we record any other requirements they might have and we pass them on to the development team. For this role good communication skills and business knowledge is required, as well as some technical knowledge about our products.

Describe a typical day?

In the morning I would typically go through my new emails and see what new pieces of work have come in. My team works online and most people I interact with are spread across different countries and time zones. Most communication is therefore done by email. As most of my colleagues are located in the US, regular update calls in the late afternoon would be one of my routine tasks. I work with our advanced analytics tools quite frequently. However most of the other tasks change a lot and I don’t have a daily routine for them.

What’s aspects of the job do you enjoy?

I like the advanced analytics tools that we are working with! It’s fascinating to see how our strategy for the product delivery is shaping up and how the software development is progressing, to see what impact that has on the market. Also, all the people I’m working with are smart and I enjoy working here. Occasionally I can travel for work which is nice for a change and good to meet people that I usually only work virtually with. Last but not least, our office is REALLY cool.

What are the main challenges?

Sometimes things can get quite hectic when deadlines are approaching. But I guess that’s the same in every job. We still get to play a match of table football now and then, so I don’t think I can complain about it too much. Another difficult thing is having to work in virtual teams. My current boss is located in Vancouver. I never get to see him and because of the big time difference I can only call him during late hours in the day. But eventually I got used to that as well. On the positive side I am working together with team members across the whole globe which can be very interesting.

Who or what has most influenced your career direction?

I think I inherited the fascination for computers from my dad who kept on buying cool devices. Other influencers on my career were friends I had during my studies. We stayed in close contact and I have the feeling that we are still mentoring each other throughout our careers.

Does your job allow you to have a lifestyle you are happy with?

Absolutely yes! In terms of progression opportunities I am currently working on a fellowship which is a six month long “exchange program” within SAP. If you join this program you have the opportunity to work in a different role, department or even country for six months. I learned a lot during my fellowship already and I’m sure that these new skills and contacts will help me in my future career. In terms of work-life balance my job is great too. I don’t have my own family yet however I have plenty of time for leisure activities while my job is also very secure.

What subjects did you take in school and did they influence your career path?

I always liked computer science, languages and art. I also took several business classes. Later on I studied Business Informatics in my home university in Germany. I continued to follow those passions. In my job I see myself as a negotiator between the business user requirements on one side and the possibilities of the software product on the other side.

What is your education to date?

I went to school and university in Germany. I have a double Masters degree in Business Informatics from my home university TU Dresden and from the EM Strasbourg in France.

What aspects of your education have proven most important for your job?

In retrospect, I found the courses around project management and planning very relevant. Furthermore, even though I hated statistics at the time, the things I learned from statistics come in handy from time to time in my job.

What advice would you give to someone considering this job?

You need to fit into the team. You will be invited to an interview based on your degree and experiences. The requirements for this will be explained in the job description. However during the interview your passions, motivations and values will be in the center of attention. There is a strong team spirit in my department. If both sides feel good about working together, you will be welcomed into the team.

What kinds of work experience would provide a good background for this position?

Definitely try to do an internship in a similar field during your studies. It is also a good opportunity for yourself to find out which roles you like and which ones you don’t. I did an internship in sales for a big IT company but decided that sales wasn’t for me. After this internship, I decided to do my Master’s thesis together with SAP during another internship which focused on development. I liked this working environment much more and after the completion of my degree I was hired for a full time position.

Article by: Smart Futures