Latest News

ASQ survey says engineers not seen as having high CEO potential

According to the engineers polled by ASQ, 69 percent say their skill set provides a solid foundation for a successful CEO.

However, only 9 percent of workers surveyed for ASQ by Kelton say engineers would make the best CEOs, behind those in operations (23 percent), finance (17 percent), marketing (14 percent), academia (13 percent) and sales (11 percent).

“Despite the fact that some of the greatest business leaders in history, from Henry Ford to Lee Iacocca, have been engineers, many people don’t connect engineers with the boardroom,” said Cheryl Birdsong-Dyer, an ASQ member and professional process engineer.

“But engineers who can combine their analytical and critical thinking skills with strong communication ability can be a powerful asset when it comes to top-level decision making.”

According to the ASQ survey of member engineers, 61 percent are currently in a management or leadership role, with nearly 75 percent overseeing up to nine employees, and 14 percent supervising 10-19 employees.

Of the engineers who have attained a leadership position at their organization, 65 percent say certifications — like the ones offered by ASQ — have played a key role in achieving the position.

“Many of the quality engineers that we see in management positions take advantage of a variety of training and educational opportunities to ensure a well-rounded skill set,” said ASQ CEO Paul Borawski.

Sixty-nine percent of the respondents of the ASQ member survey said engineering skills provide a strong base for a successful CEO, adding:

•“Problem solving is at the root of engineering. That is at the foundation of what a CEO does.”
•“Engineering skills include analytical thinking and problem solving, which are essential for being in a leadership position.”
•“Strong engineering skills allow [a] CEO to make [wiser] decisions.”
•“Engineers are more organized and logical thinkers. They reason through the consequences of a decision before making a commitment.”

But not all engineers believe they have the skills to be a successful CEO — 17 percent — saying leaders need more than strong analytical skills:
•“Engineers tend to be too honest. They say what they think. CEOs say what needs to be heard.”
•“[Engineers] do not see the big picture!”
•“Engineers are not people persons.”

Furthermore, of the 39 percent of engineers polled who are not in a leadership role, 20 percent have no interest in reaching a leadership role, while only 16 percent have a high interest in attaining a leadership role, according to the survey of engineers.

ASQ is a global community of people dedicated to quality who share the ideas and tools has more than 14,000 members who are engineers. 

Send this to a friend