Transition From a Good Engineer to a Successful Business Person
Nadar Najafi, PhD, ISSYS Co-Founder and President
ABSTRACT: Many attributes that make an engineer a good technical expert need to be manifested in completely different forms in order for a good engineer to become an effective business leader. This talk will review some of these attributes and also provide a summary of ISSYS Inc. One example is that, the process of making a good decision in the technical field, requires an engineer to spend a good deal of time clarifying various pertinent issues. There is a long information-gathering period, where various aspects of the case are examined in order to allow the decision making to become more black and white. After the detailed study, a final decision is then made. Various technical tools are utilized to accomplish this data-gathering task, such as finite element analysis for understanding MEMS mechanical performance, cadence for circuit analysis, etc. As a business person, if a large amount of time is spent in order to make the decision making process absolutely clear (i.e. black and white), in most cases the business opportunity will be lost by the time the decision is made. For example, based on historical data, if you are sure which stock to buy, the stock has already peaked and is not a good choice anymore. A good business person has to have the ability to make decisions when the decision making area is gray. S/he will also need to have the flexibility to adapt to the ever-changing business environment, while still maintaining a solid direction. Based on the author’s experience, most engineers fail in the business environment due to their inability to make decisions in the gray area. By delaying the decision in order to make the decision making process more scientific, they lose the business opportunity or the business competitive edge.
BIO: Nader Najafi received MS and PhD degrees in Electrical Engineering from the University of Michigan (1988 and 1992, respectively) performing research on integrated micromachined gas sensors and next-generation smart sensing systems. He joined IBM Corporation (Burlington, Vermont) in 1992 as a research scientist. Nader left IBM and in January 1995 founded ISSYS, established its infrastructure, and has been leading its growth. ISSYS is a vertically integrated company that uses MEMS technologies for the manufacturing of advanced micromachined devices and high-performance sensing systems for medical and analytical applications. Nader is also actively involved in many local and national activities, including an invited member of 2003 Selection Committee (Blue Ribbon) panel for National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center (NSF-ERC) program, a member of the Advisory Board for Michigan Small Tech Association (MISTA), a member of Board of Directors of Michigan Microsystems Alliance, and a member of Project Technical Advisory Board (PTAB) of SEMATECH Sensor/Actuator Sensor Bus Project. He was the first elected Chairman of Industrial Advisory Board, NSF Engineering Research Center for Wireless Integrated Microsystems at the University of Michigan. He is also cofounder and President of “Michigan High-tech CEO Alliance (MicHTeC).” MicHTeC is a non-profit organization that promotes the prosperity of high-tech companies in Michigan. Expert in advanced sensing systems and MEMS technology, he has authored 7 issued and 15 pending patents, and over 45 publications, including 3 book chapters, as well as many technical presentations.