The Case for More Business Engineers

Playboy, billionaire, and now richest person in the world Tony Stark Elon Musk made waves a few weeks back by pushing for fewer MBAs. His argument being that MBAs spend too much brain power on boring work instead of using their intelligence to build something new and impactful. What if there was another field of study that combined the technical ability of an engineer, the business acumen of an MBA, and for fun, kept people at the center of their mind? (instead of profit).

Enter Business Engineers.

Their official title is Industrial Engineer (IE), sometimes with a twist depending on the University they went to. What’s an IE?

If we start with defining an engineer as a problem solver, we can track this easily. A mechanical engineer solves problems related to mechanics. A chemical or software engineer solves problems related to chemistry and software, respectively. An IE solves problems related to industry. In other words, they solve problems related to business.

The field has remained niche for over 100 years, but its impact has been significant. Toyota was propelled to market dominance thanks to IE’s like Taiichi Ohno. Apple was nearly bankrupt when Tim Cook, an IE, was brought in in 1998. He totally revamped Apple’s inventory system, sales team, and secured significant long term contracts for flash memory and was a key in getting to a 2 trillion dollar valuation.

Industrial Engineering has brought the world rest breaks, SOPs, process optimization, quality control, human centered design, ergonomics, six sigma, kanban systems, continuous improvement, just-in-time delivery, profit sharing programs, and so much more.

Running a business is a never ending journey of solving problems and delivering value to customers. Business Engineers, then, are some of the most valuable people to put on the team.

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