Do engineers make good project managers?

In a very interesting scenario, the IT department of a client of Faculty Training Institute recently implemented a pilot project to improve project management delivery within their institution and division. The company in question, a listed leading financial services organisation based in Cape Town, decided to embark on a training programme leading to the National Certificate in Project Management with inexperienced engineering graduates as well as a similar number of other experienced employees earmarked for potential promotion into project management positions.

FTI was approached and agreed to run a six month in-house programme for 21 delegates leading to the National Certificate, with half of the delegates being engineering graduates from varied disciplines such as chemical, electrical, structural and mechanical. These engineers had been recruited by the organisation as graduates, had little working experience and were working mostly as process analysts on a large strategic programme. The balance of the group was largely made up of highly experienced staff who did not necessarily have any formal qualifications.

The National Certificate in Project Management is a performance or competence based qualification that is registered with the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA ID 58395), is an NQF level 5 qualification and delivers 120 credits. The course places a strong focus on workplace assignments which are completed by all delegates and submitted for formal assessment. On completion of the course, successful delegates will have gained a solid grounding in project management theory and practice, have developed strong formal presentation skills and have the ability to confidently deliver business presentations to a variety of stakeholders. They also gain the ability to compile and present key project deliverables in a professional manner, set up, execute, monitor and control project activities as well as effectively manage project teams.

At the end of the 6 month programme, many of the engineering students scored significantly in the top end of the class, with one being top student overall. The reasons for this may be varied and may include the benefits of an already structured, factual and recent course of study. They also received solid support from their manager and were given great opportunities to put the knowledge learnt into practice. Faculty Training Institute is a firm believer that training is a three way interaction and that in order to devolve the most benefit from a training programme, the programme has to have strong commitment from the delegate, the training company and the employer. The young engineers had also not been able to find engineering positions after graduation and were only employed by the company for the duration of the graduate programme – as such, they were highly motivated to increase their marketability and employability through the project management qualification.

The good news is that the organisation was enhanced by boosting the level of critical skills within the company and some of the graduates have been retained in permanent positions and placed in team leadership roles.

Established in 1989, Faculty Training Institute is a leading provider of training courses and related professional services to organisations across Southern Africa.  FTI focuses on competencies for knowledge professionals in the domains of Business and Systems Analysis, Project and Programme Management, QA and Testing, Business Process and Information Modelling, Enterprise Architecture, as well as offering interpersonal skills in Problem Solving, Creative and Analytical Thinking, Communication, Leadership and Coaching. Visit  Faculty Training Institute

Faculty Training Institute is an EOH Group Company.  Listed company EOH is the largest enterprise applications provider in South Africa and one of the top three IT service providers.  EOH follows the Consulting, Technology and Outsourcing model to provide high value, end-to-end solutions to its clients in all industry verticals. For more information, visit: EOH

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