Missing since 1940: engineers as business leaders. Looking back in America’s history, some of the greatest business leaders were engineers. The Panama Canal construction was managed entirely by engineers like John Frank Stevens. Thomas Edison is one of the most notable American engineers and businessman. Henry Ford, Jimmy Carter, Herbert Hoover, the list goes on. Somewhere along the line, something changed. While today an impressive 20 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs have a degree in engineering, there is an opportunity for many more to become leaders.
In the 1950s and 60s there was a shift in American culture from industrial-focused careers to careers focused on business. We started to see big businesses running the economy, and this has increased as time passed. Through this transformation, engineers began to lose their positions as leaders of the great businesses they had helped to create, replaced by professional business managers. As a result, a leadership mentality was slowly stripped away from engineers and the engineering mentality started to play a lesser role in business decision making.