Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Phone Call that Changed Everything

In November of 1994, I was hidden away in TI Lewisville debugging a tough piece of test software intended to improve performance of the HARM missile. I had an MBA in Marketing which was growing stale in one of the worst job markets since the Great Depression. I was eager to progress from test engineering to my next career; marketing semiconductors. I made a fateful phone call to one of my fellow test engineers who also had a stale MBA. I was surprised by his news. He'd found a job. He was putting his MBA to use. I asked him to keep an eye open for me but his tone of voice let me know that he was not confident he could help. Marketing jobs were scarce for guys with degrees but no experience.

A week later, I received a phone call from another of my fellow test engineers. He'd made the move to marketing. This news was even more surprising. He didn't even have a marketing degree. I'd been looking for two years for a marketing job and he knew nothing about marketing.

It came down to networking. One of the software engineers all three of us had worked with was working in the semiconductor group. He was writing software but as marketing positions opened up in his group, he was asking friends if they were interested. I made the phone call and a week later I sent my resume. Three days later, I was packing my boxes in Lewisville, headed for the Center Buildings. I was now leaving the world of engineering. I was now a marketer.

For the next 15 years, I would work as a marketer in a world of engineers. To market a high-tech product, technical ability is necessary. Therefore, engineers are frequently employed as technology marketers. However, there is more to marketing than meets the eye of the pocket protector crowd. This can lead to costly mistakes. What follows are my observations.

1 comment:

  1. Dilbert once said "Marketing: Two drinks minimum"... That represents how real engineers feel about marketing!
    I think that the core problem with marketing is that almost anyone can pretend to be doing it. Everyone kind of feels that it is an "easy" job, one that they can do even without any substantial training, so why not take a shot at it and have some fun at the same time? But they would never try that with engineering or math!