A Technology Development Perspective
If you do not maintain and grow your technical expertise you will limit your pathways in technical leadership. It remains an attribute of your engineer’s career stool that distinguishes this trail from the engineering manager trail. Therefore, as you develop the other legs you never neglect it.
“Technical expertise must come first…. Technical leadership starts there. If people don’t believe that you know your stuff, they simply will not follow your lead.” – Howard Heck
Yet you may wonder “How do you and your management assess your technical expertise?” There exist several metrics you can assess, and you don’t necessarily need to walk all of them. Like most hiking trails on a mountain, they often cross paths. Also, small seemingly insignificant trails can lead you to big trails and the associated recognition that comes with them.
For this walk I’ll be providing guidance on this topic based upon my experiences working at a large company in which my roles focused on technology development. The industry sector- semiconductors whose development for decades has marched to the beat of Moore’s Law.
Patents, Publications, Presentations
As a technical leader your job may center on generating intellectual property. Creating a new technology or contributing to an existing technology fall under the category of intellectual property. Company’s protect IP with patents and publications. A patent enables a company to project the technology from being used by a competitor. Patents also permit companies to sell the rights to companies and to support patent sharing agreements with other companies.
A publication places new technology and improvements to existing technology into the public domain so anyone can use the idea (though you might not share every single detail). This provides a level of IP projection as well as name recognition.
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