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Top firms take engineers on board

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Engineering UK research says more than half of FTSE 100 companies have an engineer on their boards

More than half of FTSE 100 companies have an engineer on their boards, according to research by Engineering UK. 

The findings suggest that 15% of executive board members at FTSE 100 companies have an engineering degree. David Falzani, president of the Sainsbury Management Fellows (SMF), which commissioned the study, said: “Engineers with business and management qualifications offer businesses an invaluable blend of skills. They make a real difference to the performance of companies and help our economy to grow.”

Paul Jackson, chief executive of Engineering UK, said: “This shows just how well an engineering education prepares people for getting involved with the highest level of management.” He explains that engineers are valued in top positions because their training equips them with the skills to work through problems, analyse data, weigh up risks and make decisions. 

Jackson adds: “When people are considering their career choices they sometimes think that if they go down a particular route – engineering – it cuts off their options. It is really clear from this research that it does not.”

Anne Richards has been a non-executive director of a number of private and not-for-profit bodies for more than seven years, and has completed stints as an executive director of a listed company. She has a degree in electronics and electrical engineering from the University of Edinburgh and is now chief investment officer at Aberdeen Asset Management. Richards said: “Engineering suits someone with a curious mind, and that is a good skill to have in the boardroom, so perhaps that is why I have been led in that direction. I think there is more respect today for engineering and science-based education in the business world than when I started out.” She added: “There is also a much better appreciation of the benefits of diversity more generally, whether that is by gender, cultural background or education.”

The SMF believe that engineering skills are essential on boards and fund talented engineers to study for MBAs. Falzani said: “We must continue to build on this to ensure that more engineers sit at board tables and make key decisions.”

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