Are you born as a consultant, graduated from an institution of higher learning as a consultant, or does the “High Wizard of Consultation” bestow this title upon you? Likely, it’s none of the above. While the path from a project focused engineer to a consultant can vary, it’s more than likely that you’ll evolve into a consultant over time.
As an Automation Engineer, you’ll acquire many skills and develop a strong technical foundation through your exposure to various project tasks and assignments. Based on that experience and knowledge, at some point in your career, you can begin to offer opinions. However, after a few years of project work, do you simply flip a switch and begin consulting? Definitely not. What you’ll discover is that you’ll need to change your approach and perspective. Rather than focusing solely on clients’ near term issues and solutions, you’ll need to look at the bigger picture. You’ll begin working not so much with “things,” but with ideas and exploring possibilities.
As a project engineer, you make things work “today”. You provide solutions to problems and generally work through your issues on the tasks. As a consultant, you’ll need to channel that experience into working with concepts and considering customers problems, pains and future needs. Listening is key, and then by drawing on your experiences as well as that of others you’ve encountered in your travels, you can provide ideas, plans, options and strategies for resolving or minimizing the issues and maximizing the future potential.
In a consultant role you do not need to execute those ideas, but be the leader in defining, planning and setting a structure to resolve those tasks. The satisfaction of providing the plan and guiding its implementation will become greater than the actual personal execution of the plan, itself. And when that happens, you will have evolved into a ‘consulting engineer’ a “force multiplier of improvement”.
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