ARE UGANDAN ENGINEERS IN THE RIGHT MARKET?

Whichever profession you are in, I am damn sure you need a market. A university graduate, corporation or a church all need a right market. By market, I mean the person(s), or organizations that you are selling your products, services or ideas to. This means you are a salesperson at the core of your wake-hour functioning.

For a greater portion of time, very few students, graduates, or professional engineers deliberately and objectively think about and prepare for the markets they are getting into. At best, assumptions are made that our ideas, services or products will sell in that market. At worst, we perceive all is well in the market place.

However valuable your products, services or ideas are, they shall dead fail to sell if you don’t identify the right market for them. Let’s take an analogy. Imagine, if you can. A latest Mac-book (known for its ease of use, efficiency, artistic and minimalistic design) being sold to an illiterate and subsistence peasant deep in the village of no-where. No doubt, you have guessed it right, a sale shall not be made at worst, or sold at a loss, at best.

To survive and thrive in the right marketplace, a professional or organization needs three things in the right order. Firstly, his/her/its assets (these are the skills, physical assets, knowledge, human resource etc.), curatively designing one’s asset-set comes with great leverage that distinguishes her/him/it from the pack (derivative professionals or organizations). To put it short, it makes you or your organization a purple cow in a herd of brown cows. Secondly, aspirations (values, passions, mission, etc.) which propel one to success.

Thirdly, knowledge of the market realities, which is the theme of this writing. The market is no longer static as it used to be. It is highly dynamic and unpredictable; the clock arm speed is faster than never before. Rules are ever changing. Playing today’s game using yesterday’s playbook is a sure path to a dead end.

Look deeper beyond surface statistics and graphics to understand the market you are aligning your assets with before making a career or institutional investment. A conventional school of thought says the earliest bird eats the worm, little attention is paid to the earliest worm eaten by the bird. Finding the right problem to solve is too key and rewarding as it has always been. It should sink in that it is always t=0 (for those with an engineering background) for the first two years after graduation, as you grind to build a skillset, network and an invaluable store of knowledge or first three months of contract for those already in motion.

To focus my writing, I should ask some questions. Are Ugandan engineers finding the right problems to solve and taking solutions to the right market? Are academic institutions nurturing students to survive and thrive in the current economic world characterized by rapid sea change? Are they playing today’s game using today’s play book?

During the World Science Week held recently, our engineers, scientists and those in between showcased their crafts. This was an awfully beautiful display for creativity. Bravo. Next, lets have the market realities in mind and constantly improve our assets and never forget our values. Opportunities are great in a crisis-infected world of today, especially Africa. Patrick Bitature says, “You ought to grow an eye to see these opportunities.” Akuume

Steven.kakaire@mak.ac.ug

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Kakaire Steven King

Kakaire Steven King

Data communication engineer and learner.