No need to get into a lengthy diatribe as to who Steve Jobs is and all that he has accomplished. You all know who he is and I would have carpel tunnel syndrome by the end of this entry if I tried to explain all things Steve Jobs. Two questions for you though about Steve Jobs:
- Do you know where he started?
- Do you know where he ended?
Back to that in a moment. Over the years I have conducted numerous C-Level or Senior Vice President/National Business Line Leader searches for consulting engineering firms where I have been tasked to seek and find a key leader for national or global practices that are made up of hundreds or thousands of civil engineering and architectural professionals. Deep down amongst the two or three page detailed job description there is bullet point indicating that a Professional Engineering or Architecture license is required. Not preferred. Not recommended. Required.
Different companies have different roles, different titles, and different philosophies on hiring. The philosophy that a senior executive must have a professional registration sometimes leaves me scratching my head. I am talking about executive leaders who develop winning strategies, who develop revolving 5-year business plans, who glad hand, who often accept public speaking invitations, who are responsible for leading the pursuit of projects, or who are responsible for meeting financial goals of the company. My question is this: “Is a professional registration really necessary at this level?”
I know many unlicensed professionals in the architecture and engineering community who are operationally responsible for hundreds or thousands of employees and who know how to effectively turn a profit. I also know many unlicensed professionals in the architecture and engineering industries who are responsible for driving millions and millions of dollars worth of revenue through the door. I also know many companies who have needs for people like these but who turn a blind eye to these candidates because they do not have a couple of initials following their last name. Is this an old school mentality? Is this a company worried about perception more than actual results?
This takes me back to Steve Jobs; No degree…college drop out…yet an innovative pioneer who is a good listener and who was capable of delivering what people want- even delivering what people want before they know they want it. Not that companies should make a habit of hiring college drop-outs, not by any stretch of the imagination; but, denying your company the opportunity to hire, or at the very least consider a change agent or someone who can help guide the ship to its selected destination because they do not have a license, seems shortsighted.
If someone can provide innovative concepts to clients, productive and profitable business models, has strong connections and a track record of success; if they are a good listener, and if through the collaborative efforts of the skilled and licensed management team beneath them they could even deliver a concept to a client that they may have not thought of otherwise; if they are able to drive top line revenues and help your firm climb to heights that you may not otherwise reach, then is a professional license at that level even relevant?
What is your philosophy? Have you hired your firm’s Steve Jobs? Or maybe have you seen the Steve Jobs of your industry join the competition only because you shuffled his credentials aside because he or she was not licensed?