Where Does Industrial Engineering Stand Vis a Vis Other Career Options?

Though it is an age-old concept that we can improve productivity by minimizing wastages – the wastage of time, the wastage of money, wastage of materials – wastage of direct materials as well as wastage of the consumables it was only Industrial Engineering that came out with the idea of making it a Career option.

Though it made a humble beginning by showing how masons could improve their productivity and how the concepts of Methods Study and Time Study could improve the productivity in the textile mills it created a history by staging sweeping improvements in the manufacturing industry.

It revolutionised Project Management by introducing PERT, Quality Control by introducing SQC, Material Management by introducing the concept of ABC Analysis and automated Inventory Control through MRP, Fatigue Management through Ergonomics and minimizing costs and maximizing utilization of all resources and facilities by using Operations Research techniques to emerge as a new Career option.

But do you know it did not work much of a magic as a good Career option?

Would you like to know, why?

We can judge which career option is better by preparing a list of the requirements that make for a good option, as follows.

We may say the career option that may score higher in its evaluation on the following scale may be considered a better option in respect of:

  • To what extent it gives the satisfaction that we are doing something that may be useful to the society and the humanity,
  • To what extent it lets us earn to lead a stress-free life,
  • To what extent it allows us to use our creativity and the ability to innovate,
  • To what extent it lets us have a feeling that our life is secure,
  • To what extent we can pursue this career even after retirement

by awarding these aspects a value 3, 2, 1 and 0, as follows

To a fairly good extent                 …   3

To a reasonable extent                 …   2

To a marginal extent                    …   1

To a limited extent only                …   0

No doubt, Industrial Engineering at the outset looks quite fascinating because it strives to improve productivity and aims to improve efficiency and performance. But the truth is the other professionals such as the professionals of Personnel Management, the professionals of Financial Management and the professionals of Marketing generally don’t like that anybody else may tell them how they may improve their efficiency. They consider it derogatory to seek any guidance from others to improve their performance. They regard it as an unwarranted intrusion in their arena. So they personally feel offended when an Industrial Engineer approaches them or is made to approach them.

Secondly unlike Personnel Management, Production Management, Financial Management, Material management and Marketing, Industrial engineering is only a service function. So it does not enjoy the front line privileges in an Organization.

An attempt was made to overcome this obstruction by renaming it “Performance Management” or “Productivity Management” instead of Industrial Engineering but it could not bring much relief.

All Industrial Engineers can do after retirement is to offer consultancy services. So it does not match the medical career or the legal career in this respect.


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