Part 2: The ideal manager – technician or economist?

  • Posted by Gerhard Pramhas
  • On 26. June 2018



The technically gifted engineer or the numbers-oriented economist – which one of these is better equipped to lead a company to success? Once again, in the second part of my series consisting of three blog entries, it’s all about the ideal manager for an SME. Have you also often wondered what kind of manager a company requires in order to be truly successful? Keep reading for my assessment on the topic of managers and leadership.

A question of willingness to learn

An unknown author once said: “Engineers are the camels on whose backs the merchants ride”. Is this true? Yes, but only if the engineers allow it. After all, from the viewpoint of education and know-how, this isn’t correct. In no way do I wish to start an argument on the difficulty of the various educational courses here. However, it is a fact that more people graduate from economic than from technical institutes. And it is considerably easier for an engineer to acquire knowledge of economics than vice versa.

Numbers are only half of the story

Drawing on my own experience and knowledge, therefore, I would argue that in technologically-oriented companies, the engineer who is interested in economics is far superior to the economics graduate who has an interest in engineering. It requires more than just numbers to describe and control technology. Technology involves knowledge, but it also has to do with methods of development and, above all, with people. If you look at the figures, which are often based on assumptions, a 1,000,000.00 EUR investment in a new production facility can be a great thing if the economist believes that the investment is worth it financially.

The engineer, however, alongside his or her pure understanding of what this machine is capable of doing, will also estimate whether he or she actually has people in the company who will be able to work with this new technology. And it is this simple fact that makes the engineer better qualified as a manager.

Do you have a different opinion or would you like to continue discussing this topic? Get in touch with me – let’s start a dialogue on this topic. You can also reach me via telephone at +43 676 9560164 or by email at

PS .: Read here my first contribution to the question of the ideal managing director.