How to go from technician to director

The journey from purely technical roles to directorships is more common than you might think

Fri, August 8th, 16:10


Those outside technical and science industries tend to assume that all directors are business people first and industry experts second. However, we have seen many technical candidates progress through the ranks of large businesses in industries like pharmaceuticals and make that leap from technician to director. We have placed a number of candidates in director roles based on strong technical experience.

If you work on the technical side of your business, you can make that journey.

Taking the first step

Most businesses that require a science or engineering skillset will have a clear progression plan from the technical side to senior management. Let’s use pharmaceutical, one of the biggest growth areas in the country, as an example.

In pharma, the first step will be to rise from technician to supervisor and will often be the most hotly contested role on the journey. While these businesses are growing all the time and tend to favour internal promotion from technician to supervisor, making that jump often means standing out from a large talent pool. However, it is vital to get that people management experience if you want to step into further management roles.

Broaden your horizons

As well as targeting a supervisor role, you should also look to develop multi-faceted experience within the technical side. To go back to pharma, in tablet production there are three main functions; blending, granulation and then compression. When upper management roles become available, you are a much more attractive candidate if you have experience in all three functions rather than offering pure blending experience.

If you have designs on a director role and have taken the first step into management, we would also strongly advise you to take on any travel opportunities that are offered to you. In pharma, a few years work in countries like the US and Switzerland offer experience so valuable it could be a fast track to high level management.

Develop your education

The other key aspect is education. While not every technician position requires you to have a degree, you will need to add that to your CV to make the move into senior management. If you don’t have a degree, now may be the time to consider taking on a part-time course to go alongside your day-to-day duties. It’s also beneficial to take on leadership or business management courses. These will help hiring managers for senior roles to see you as a leader as well as a skilled technician.

Many senior managers will target MBA courses as a last step before moving into a director role and this can be beneficial. However, one note of caution from our experience; we have spoken to clients who feel that an MBA indicates that a technical candidate is too commercially focused to take on a technical director role. That is certainly the exception rather than the rule; however, it does indicate that an MBA shouldn’t be considered an absolute requirement for a director role.

In order to move through the ranks at any business you need to be dedicated. The old adages about working hard, arriving early and leaving late will always apply. As long as your work stands out, it’s about developing your education and experience to make that leap from technician to director.

Take the next step toward your future career on our job board.

Judith Moffett

The Irish Times