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An Engineer's View: "Money Engineering: 101"

Tuesday, 30 July 2019   (0 Comments)
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As engineers we spend most of our formative years expanding our technical and managerial experience, but rarely do we invest in cultivating the business acumen required to operate and run a profitable venture.

In lieu of this enterprise culture, we resort to the primal essence of a business, which for most of us means adopting a daily mantra of "job out - money in” the hustle of a small engineering company. As many an entrepreneur would know, managing a small business is more than just balancing the books and accounting for expenses, it’s about charting a course, sailing a ship and keeping it afloat. It’s about cash flow.

But do engineers make for good business owners? While it is inherent in engineers to itemise, systemise and optimise, we would sooner bury our heads in advanced triple integration, than formulate a 3 month cash flow prediction. For the most part, we lack the insight for trade and commerce, and cannot comfortably adopt these concepts without intentionally endeavoring into the finance-discipline.

Without these basic business essentials, engineers are short a tool to effectively and profitably trade our intellectual property as a small business owner. This, in turn, limits both the expansion of independent specialised engineering consultants within the engineering industry, as well as the individual life-span of these companies.

Ultimately, we require the empowerment of engineers, not so much with the principles of accounting, but rather with an economic–conducive ‘school of thought’. This would create appropriate flexibility in our thinking and assist us to incorporate relevant factors and dynamic variables into the functioning of a business. Paired with our natural ability for problem solving, good business savvy would prove highly effective in establishing smart and operational business strategies.

Substantial efforts have thus been made to ensure educated engineers are capable of designing and building fully functional ships, perhaps then the next step is to equip us to navigate the seas and sail.

Brita Govan
Mechanical Engineer at Nautilus Engineers

From the popular commentary "An Engineer's View" which is a regular feature of SA Mechanical Engineer. The commentary reflects the personal views of SAIMechE members, typically those who have accepted leadership positions in the Institution. If you are a SAIMechE member and would like to share something valuable with your community, please send your submission to for consideration.

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