Advancing to Management It Starts at the End

By Sharon Richardson

Shaping an Engineering Career ” Book 3: Advancing to Management is a guide for graduating and mid-career engineers. Author Siri Varadan, an IEEE senior member and vice president of Utility Integration Solutions, Inc., uses anecdotes from his own career in hopes of providing engineers with perspective on career advancements that have been influenced by various other disciplines. He provides examples of the tools and skill sets needed to navigate through one’s career path.

Varadan writes that he has learned to “envision the end result, and then work backward step-by-step to the present.” In the first chapter, Start at the End, Varadan stresses that you must have well defined goals “long-term and the short-term goals–and those goals must be written down. He goes on to share: “Your present state does not matter, all you need to know is where you want to go in the future”¦ true success is achieved when one’s passion, or purpose in life, is fully realized.” He also shares that “If you don’t know where you are, how would you know how far you are from your goal? How would you know how much effort to put in to get you there?”

Using an example goal for an engineer to transition to a top management spot, for example, CEO or President within a corporate organization, Varadan charted out an organizational ladder, showing how many years, education and experience one would typically have to have to reach each level.

Varadan shares with readers the difficulties he had obtaining his first job, not having any real experience. “As a student, I progressed from one program to the next, but for all practical purposes, I had no real industry experience.”  He goes on to share the fact that being an international student did not help him either.  Potential employers would shy away from him, because of the complicated process they had to go through to hire him, and they deemed it not worth it. He emphasized that networking is a must. Varadan started with his graduate school advisors and worked his way through his friends-who “may know somebody that knows somebody.”  In the process, Varadan learned how to write a cover letter, and how to adjust his resume to get the job he was seeking. He expressed that “the efforts that went into my first job search made working on my doctoral dissertation seem like a breeze.”

The author’s last chapter, Going Forward, gives highlights of the beginning chapter’s statement: Start at the End,   and summarizes how he wrote Book 3: Advancing to Management from the end.  The last chapter ends with a short summary of how he hoped to help the readers of this e-book advance through their careers, by disclosing how he managed his career, and the things that helped him along the way.

Varadan ends the e-book with these words of encouragement: “The right attitude is one where you are passionate and excited about your job ” one that makes you want to get out of bed, and pursue your passion; one that makes you want to say: Thank God, it is Monday (TGIM); one that reconfirms the saying: If you love your work, you will never work a single day.


The chapters in Shaping an Engineering Career ” Book 3: Advancing to Management include: Charting the Course; Networking; Mentorship; Attitude; and Going Forward.

Download Shaping an Engineering Career ” Book 3: Advancing to Management (Vol. 1)  for the IEEE Member Price of $7.99. The non-member price is $9.99.

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Ideas for New E-Books

IEEE-USA E-Books invites IEEE members and volunteers to submit queries for e-books they may want to write. If you’ve got an idea for an e-book that will educate other IEEE members on career guidance and development topics for engineers, e-mail your e-book queries and ideas to IEEE-USA Publishing Manager Georgia Stelluto or E-Book Chair Gus Gaynor.

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Sharon Richardson is IEEE-USA’s Communications Coordinator, and editorial assistant for IEEE-USA in ACTION.

Guest Contributor

IEEE-USA is an organizational unit of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. (IEEE), created in 1973 to support the career and public policy interests of IEEE’s U.S. members. IEEE-USA is primarily supported by an annual assessment paid by U.S. IEEE Members.

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