Selection of a new VP of Engineering In deciding among alternatives, one must be clear in one’s head what one’s objective is in deciding on the problem. At this stage, I shall first assess the requirements of the position with respect to the organization, and leave out for a moment the people who are being considered for the position. A VP of Engineering must necessarily possess a strong technical background, that is a given. Basic requirements of course are good people skills, a knack for planning and conceptualizing, experience in being exposed to different situations relevant to his job, a good sense about the market for which he/she shall be designing new products. He/she also must possess honesty, integrity, character, trustworthiness, and all the personal virtues I would need my VP to have to be able to command the respect of others and for me to repose trust in him/her.
Having made this wish list, I shall then analyze the needs of the organization. Where is the organization at this time? What are the more serious challenges that it faces now, and will face in the medium to long-term? How about the engineering department itself, what are its current and medium to long-term requirements? Some organizations have problems dealing with revenues. that is a marketing problem. Others have challenges in controlling costs. that is an operations problem. Still other may have union issues or skills obsolescence, or demotivation. these are HR problems. Several of these may occur simultaneously, so it will be necessary to prioritize and rank them in order of importance to the firm.
It is only at this point that one may begin to consider the candidates. Do they all possess the basic attributes? If so, how does hiring each one match the organization’s needs? For instance, if motivation is an issue, prefer to hire from within, and maybe prefer seniority, because the younger candidate can wait a few more years to be hired. To add inputs to my decision, I will probably invite each one of them to a cordial lunch to discover their own personal disposition and inclination about the position, without necessarily informing them that they are being considered. This may be unethical in the case of Ms Hernandez since she is still connected with the competitor, so in her case the fact finding may be done through a third person. In any case, it is important to know how each would feel about the position, particularly John Adams who is the successor apparent. In making my consideration, I should be aware that since John Adams is the one everyone expects to fill in the position, bypassing him for a younger candidate or even an outsider would be seen as a strong repudiation in the eyes of the other members of the organization. The reason for the choice must be clear, understandable, and acceptable to at least majority of the people the new VP will be leading.
After weighing all the repercussions and consequences to the organization and the candidate him/herself, the choice is then made.