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Career Story: Engineering Director For A Computer Storage Manufacturer

Engineering Director For A Computer Storage Manufacturer

Job Title: Engineering Senior Director

Type of Company: My company is the leading producer of hard disk drives for computers and digital video recorders.

Education: BS, Electrical Engineering, Howard University •• SMEE, Electrical Engineering, MIT

Previous Experience: I worked as a design engineer for Digital Equipment Corporation's storage division. Over the years I've held a variety of engineering and management positions in software development, manufacturing and now disk drive development.

Job Tasks: I'm a Core Team Lead for one of my company's products. In this capacity I manage a virtual team of ten, including representatives from design, engineering, materials, manufacturing, quality, and key component divisions. I am responsible for the delivery of the product to market and for making sure that the team meets its design goals, stays on schedule and adheres to cost and quality guidelines. We work at various sites in the US and around the world, among them Singapore, where the hard drive is manufactured. In a typical day I guide the team through critical decisions by reviewing technical data and making risk assessments regarding cost, quality and scheduling. To meet key milestones and manage resources, I map out program-level tasks and responsibilities and update them regularly. Tactical issues that can affect our progress I address as needed.

I am also responsible for presenting weekly program updates to upper management, as well as conferring with customers on design requirements and the program's status. I often have to travel overseas to the Singapore factory and sometimes remain there as long as four weeks. From inception to completion, the delivery of a product can take one and a half to two and a half years.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of the job is the interaction with bright and energetic people to solve difficult problems. The problems tend to be technical, but when broken into small chunks give both short-term and long-term gratification.

The worst part of the job is the pressure to meet deadlines and avoid compromising other aspects of the overall design. The industry is very competitive and small missteps can lead to very big losses.

Job Tips: Get a solid foundation in the technical background, but keep your writing and communications skills honed.

Be flexible. Work with all types of individuals and tailor your style to meet the needs of those around you. One size does not always fit all.

Expose yourself to a variety of situations, problems and issues. A pattern of solutions will start to arise as you develop. Being able to recognize that pattern and then just work the specific issues of the problem at hand will allow you to quickly resolve issues and grow.

Additional Thoughts: Don't let minor setbacks get you down. Careers and jobs are more like marathons. You will have time to bounce back even stronger.

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