Our Industrial Engineer Survivor
by Kevin McManus, Chief Excellence Officer, Great Systems
After returning home from a week of teaching in Calgary, I was catching up on the first episode of Survivor: David vs. Goliath that had been recorded earlier in the week. The first show of the 37th Survivor season began as usual – two tribes battling for resources and reputations. As the show progressed to the beach and the annual shelter building / team building exercise, I unexpectedly became astounded (and I try to avoid hyperbole unless I think it fits) by what I saw and heard. Industrial Engineer.
I saw the words ‘industrial engineer’ on the television screen. I heard the words ‘industrial engineer’ said on national television, to an audience that has averaged 10 million viewers per episode over its 18-year life. After getting over my amazement, I immediately thought “How many people are asking themselves what an industrial engineer is right now?” How would you answer that question if you were asked it?
What is an industrial engineer?
I can only wonder if, and hope that, there was an ‘industrial engineer’ keyword spike in Google searches during those viewing hours last Wednesday night. For almost forty years, I have watched local, regional, and national groups like the Institute for Industrial and Systems Engineers struggle to gain the industrial and systems engineering profession the exposure it deserves. All types of ideas have been floated around to try to attract attention to a largely unknown profession outside of the engineering world.
And then a potential 12-week exposure to 10 million viewers a week falls into our laps like a stumbled upon hidden immunity idol. So cool. I am psyched. I am an industrial engineer for life, and I am proud of it. Industrial engineers make work and life better by improving the work systems and social infrastructure that drives and supports our business, hospitals, schools, and communities each day. Sadly, too many of these groups have to take advantage of the unique skill set this profession has to offer.
Who is Our Industrial Engineer Survivor?
I can only hope that people keep asking themselves that as this season of Survivor unfolds. From what I have seen in the first episode, Natalia Azoqa is a great representative of the industrial engineering profession. She has already demonstrated initiative, leadership, technical engineering, and collaborative and organizational skills. We are only one show into the 15 or so show season. I think you know who I am rooting for.
I know it’s television. I, like others, suspect parts of the show are scripted. But I also understand marketing reach. Ten million viewers a week is ten million viewers a week. If we can get .1% of those viewers to pursue industrial and systems engineering as a profession because they saw Natalia Azoqa perform as a superstar on Survivor, I will take it. I know there are business owners like me as well out there who may not beware of the tremendous value that an industrial engineer, or two, can almost immediately add to their organization.
Let’s Follow and Promote Our Industrial Engineer Survivor
If you have industrial engineering in your blood, consider joining me over the next three months in leveraging Natalia’s prowess, intelligence, and exposure to let more people know about the potential industrial and systems engineers offer. Let’s join forces as industrial and systems engineers to support our industrial engineering survivor on social media. All you have to do is be prepared to answer one question.
What is an industrial engineer?
Epilogue: Our Industrial Engineer Survivor is Voted Out
Sadly, Natalia Azoqa was voted of of the island at the end of Episode Four. On the positive side, our profession got a lot of much needed exposure. On the negative side, we won’t keep getting that promotion for the remainder of the show. I will take what we can get when it comes to promoting the power of industrial and systems engineering.
Perhaps more concerning was the reasoning for letting out IE survivor go. In short, her team skills needed improvement. I think she knows that, but like many young (and some older) engineers, mastering the people side of life can be challenging. I am sure that she learned from her experience, and I hope that she is a successful engineering leader in the future.
#iesurvivor #industrialengineering #survivordavidgoliath
NOTE: if you found value in this article, you might also benefit from reading my new book “Error Proof”, which is now for sale on Amazon.com.