Steer Your CAD Management Career

24 Sep, 2013 By: Robert Green

The better you understand your strengths — and how they can help your company — the more effective and valued you will be.

In recent years, I've noticed the CAD/BIM (building information modeling) manager's job description is evolving — and not for the better. It seems expectations are ever increasing, employers are becoming more demanding, and there is less time to get the job done. And I've noticed an unsettling trend among senior management teams who view CAD/BIM management as something that takes billable hours away from an otherwise billable occupation such as architect, engineer, or designer.

As these changes have taken root, I've heard more CAD managers complain of lower job satisfaction, with many asking the question, "Should I even be doing CAD management at all?" I can't tell you how much hearing this question saddens me because, like you, I have a passion for CAD management and I understand how much CAD managers can help their companies.

Before you consider leaving CAD management, please try implementing some strategies for raising your worth in the eyes of senior management. In this issue of the CAD Manager's Newsletter, I'll pass along career advice and action items that are based on my own experiences. They can help you advance your career while you go about your day-to-day CAD management activities. Here goes.

Analysis: What Got You the Job?

Before we talk about how to better manage your career, let's take a step back and examine how you got the job in the first place. In almost all conversations with CAD managers I've had over the years, the following factors hold true:

We are technologists (engineers, architects, designers, etc.) We are comfortable with software (in fact, understanding it is easy for us) We are seen as the answer man or woman (people ask us questions) We are the fix-it man or woman (things stop working when we're gone).

The picture that emerges is of a competent, take-charge person who figures things out, makes things work, explains difficult concepts to users, and generally keeps production on track. In short, CAD managers are invaluable to the companies they support, even if that fact isn't understood by everyone around them (more on that later).

CAD managers have a skill set that makes them invaluable to their companies — and that's a message you have to share with your upper management teams.

Action item: Make sure that users and senior managers alike understand your skills and problem-solving abilities, and realize how critical your support of production goals is. If you don't advertise yourself, nobody else will.

Analysis: What Are Your Core Skills?

It amazes me how often I ask CAD managers what their best skills are and they can't really answer the question. The possible answers are many, and include the following:

  • I'm a great architect who happens to understand BIM
  • I'm a mechanical engineer who really understands manufacturing software
  • I excel at teaching users new skills
  • I enable our field personnel to get things done
  • I efficiently implement new software tools and work methods
  • I'm a skilled technical troubleshooter who keeps things running.

In each of these cases, the CAD manager understands what his or her core value and skill is and how it helps the company gets things done.

When CAD managers can't define their own core skills, it tells me they don't really know what they should be working on or how valuable they are to the company. And believe me when I say that if you don't understand your value to the company, your boss doesn't either.

Action item: Determine your strengths and start emphasizing them to highlight your value to the company.

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About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

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Re: Steer Your CAD Management Career
by: Waltspar
September 25, 2013 - 1:24pm
Great Article! All well said and all so true! WES
Re: Steer Your CAD Management Career
by: mikepo
September 26, 2013 - 4:11pm
Excellent article! Most of this has went through my head at one time or another. We have to make ourselves invaluable, no one else will do it for us.
Re: Steer Your CAD Management Career
by: JimUSA
September 27, 2013 - 9:22am
Good article! Something else to consider is whether CAD management is the right job at all. A forward-thinking production technique crusader might do better as a front-line project manager than as a CAD manager. Even if you are a skilled trainer, a people person, an expert at the line of business, and a CAD configuration top gun - CAD management might not be the right job. Core CAD manager skills truly valued at most companies in my experience: * Integrate tomorrow's tools into yesterday's workflows * Enable yesterday's tools to function in today's environment * Minimize change and learning required from users * Maximize production speed regardless of workflow efficiency * Advocate standards, but focus on supporting deviation * Serve users, ahead of clients or projects, without damaging budgets If doing those things is not rewarding, it might be better to be a star at managing production instead.

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