The Royal Aeronautical Society Reviews with Mike Aucoin

Artech House is so grateful to our network of reviewers, and wanted to share this review of Mike Aucoin’s fantastic title, From Engineer to Manager: Mastering the Transition, Second Edition, that appears in March 2020’s Royal Aeronautical Society’s AEROSPACE Magazine:

FROM ENGINEER TO MANAGER, Mastering the Transition – Second edition

Senior engineers have traditionally coached and mentored young engineers in the wider perspective that will enable them to develop their
professionalism. This book, written in an easy, mentoring style of advice and encouragement, should be of great value to engineering professionals to better understand that wider picture in order to make better decisions in their own engineering role and help develop their management potential.
The book provides a comprehensive overview of the challenges facing engineers as they progress to leadership and management roles. Six fundamental principles are defined as:

● Mastering Relationships: Business is about people, so there is a need to manage up, down and sideways
● Seeing the Big Picture: Redirect focus from narrow technical area to the financial health of the business
● Getting Things Done: Effective Project and Risk Management
● Communicating Effectively: Facilitating good communication with a simple and clear message
● Using Assets Wisely: Adding value and generating income
● Taking it to the Next Level: Innovation and Excellence while using basic management principles

The author rightly asserts that the highest priority of an engineering manager is the successful management of relationships. Each chapter has three ‘takeaways’ that summarise its key elements to provide a valuable focus for the topic. Chapters end with a list of references and selected bibliography covering traditional sources and new ones. A comprehensive contents list and index make it easy for quick reference.

The author uses examples from his experience to illustrate points with assertions not always backed up by references, which might not suit a
rigorous academic analysis. However, many of the assertions are worthy of consideration, such as “Effective and proactive communication is perhaps the key determinant of success in engineering management” and “Meetings are almost universally disliked, so offer a ready opportunity for both leadership and dramatic improvement.”

Some of the material is superficial, although that perhaps is only to be expected in an overview, and the references and bibliography should help
where further detail is wanted. The book does not always reflect up-to-date thinking. For example, risk is defined simply as a detrimental threat, whereas for some time now effective risk management considers risk as both threats and opportunities (eg International Organization for Standardization ISO 31000:2018 Risk Management).

In summary, a valuable resource for engineers to help develop their professionalism.

Lee Balthazor, CEng FRAeS

Originally compiled for AEROSPACE published by the Royal Aeronautical Society in March 2020.

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