July 13, 2023

In the dynamic world of technology, a common belief prevails: technical skills are the primary determinant of success. But that’s only partly true. 

Technical skills can serve as a critical foot in the door in technology jobs. Yet, as people rise through ranks, managerial expertise, communications ability and business acumen all become more important. 

IEEE Life Senior Member Annette Reilly, who worked as a proposal developer and project manager for Lockheed Martin for more than three decades, noted many of the cutting edge breakthroughs she learned about while working on a master’s degree in information systems are no longer on the cutting edge. 

“The technical novelties and IT breakthroughs I studied 25 years ago are all superseded, but the insights in how to analyze complicated procedures and organizations, build consensus, manage contending priorities and make decisions are still useful,” said Reilly. 

IEEE Senior Member Irene Pazos Viana has found that specializing in one aspect of a job tends to be critical in early days of career. But as people progress, they add to their portfolio of responsibilities. In a sense, they become generalists. 

In their own words: Explore the diverse professional trajectories and personal stories of IEEE members.

The higher level you get, the larger impact your job has,” she said. “With time, the knowledge path goes from deep to wide. You’ll move from being an expert in a programming language, to manager for software engineering, to dealing with organizational information security, governance and business continuity.” 

For those looking to advance, Charles Stein, an IEEE member who serves as corporate external affairs director for a major telecommunication company, said that soft skills play an important role. 

“I advance in my career through kindness and curiosity,” Stein said. “It’s not enough to just be kind. Discipline and perseverance are required to develop curiosity into competence.”

He said that IEEE has long been a place that welcomes his curiosity.

“IEEE can be your professional home because we’re a welcoming ecosystem of continuous learners,” he said. ”Low risk, high reward environments are rare in industry. Here, you can exercise new skills while leveraging your unique combination of strengths.”

Learn more: Inspiration, passion, creativity, collaboration. No matter where you are on your career journey, find out why IEEE can be your professional home.


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