How a girl with a BA in music became an engineering department manager?? (Part 1/2)

During one of the job’s interviews, I had years back, I was asked about my approach in developing others as a people manager. I answered that I can see the potential in others, not only for who they are at a certain point of time, but also for who they are capable of becoming because I believe that everyone has a talent and ability for growth. People need to see clearly their strengths and what they are capable of and build on that to become the people they want to be.

I noticed that the interviewer was maybe expecting a different answer or perhaps the interviewer felt my answer wasn’t clear enough. So, I continued referring to one of may favorite quotes for Stephen R. Covey: “Leadership is communicating to people their worth and potential so clearly that they come to see it in themselves.” Then, the interviewer asked me if I had an example from real life. I mentioned the story of one my former employees who became a successful engineering department manager although she didn’t have an engineering degree but a bachelor in music at the time when I became her manager. Incredible, isn’t it??

So here is the story. Several years ago, I was relocated to one of the company’s sites to lead the engineering team who was going through a business crisis. Everyone was new for me and I spent the first few weeks in talking to people, observing what and how they do their work and how everyone contributes to the business at that site. My main objective was identifying areas to improve and implement the necessary changes. One day I joined a project review stand-up meeting which was taking a place in a quite small meeting room. The room was full of people standing around a raised small round table. Managers, site leadership, engineers and other project stakeholders were all gathered in this room to follow up the status of a high-impact project. I could barely see the chair of the meeting who was standing in the middle of all these people, holding a paper copy of the project plan and directing questions to the project team asking them about the status. I didn’t know who that girl was although I recognized the face as I might have seen her around in the office. I asked and I have been told that she is an admin but she was asked to help leading the project follow up meeting. I was actually surprised because it is quite unusual to assign an admin to lead projects follow-up meeting and especially if it is a high-impact project. It was actually at that moment when I saw the potential in that girl. To be continued…        

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