Technology careers explained to sports fanby Sebastien Mirolo on Thu, 14 Jan 2010
Most people do not understand the skills that are needed to work in technology. The stereotype is that you need to wear glasses and talk in intricate mathematical formulas. Well, I argue that everyone is fit to work and have fun in technology, even if you are a sports buff.
The difference between science and technology is similar to the difference between the training room and the fighting ring. A coach is like a scientist, that formulates drills, explore new tactics and understand the mechanics of the sport. They invent new ways based on theory in which the credibility or usefulness is yet to be proven. However, events are different when one is fighting in the ring. One has to be efficient to win the fight and rely on proven techniques, and adapt pragmatically to the opponent. That is how engineers think - identify the problem, formulate a solution, execute the stratagem and then score the points. Essentially, when one step into the ring, they become the engineer.
Managing technical teams is like managing a herd of scientists and engineers. For anyone involved, technical projects feel like living creatures. Projects grow, evolve and disappear. But I feel that the best technical managers are like surfers. They have the ability to anticipate a project's wave as well as having a strong sense of balance.
The focus of company executives is to get money flowing in while keeping the board of directors happy. For an executive, everyday is as much a competition of who can better master their skills. Dancers, gymnasts, and others alike are what come to mind when describing an executive. Grace and charm utterly matter in that position.
You can explain leadership in a technical team as an analogy between amateur and professional athletes. Just as in sports teams, you can find leaders among scientists, engineers, managers and executives. As in any professional athlete, a leader is someone with an extreme sense of timing, and is quick to act on opportunities. Actions such as a fist that drops an inch or, a goalkeeper stepping out of balance for a fraction of a second, are examples of opportunities that a professional athlete will drive through to correct and overcome the situation. Leaders in science find new ways to look at the world. Just as in engineering, leaders use old tools in new and interesting ways. Managers sense when the driving wheel of a project needs to pass from one group to another. Finally, executives monetize ideas that others did not initially realize had potential.
If you know the sport you like, you'll always find a position somewhere in the Technology field.