Making business communications relevant in a fickle world

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What does it take to work in Engineering firms? “A person with engineer’s mind should be an engineer,” said Mr. Kazimierz R. Czarnecki to Mary Jackson, in the movie Hidden Figures. The movie is based on a true story about African American female mathematicians facing everyday sexism and racism in 1960’s America and NASA. So might make you wonder, what does an engineering mind have to do with communications you might ask? Well lots. 

In a world where click bait and selfies are the norm, certain stories take their time to shape up and be told. 

So here are some top skills an engineer must have:

  1. Natural Curiosity: How do things work? Why do they work? What is the impact of such an invention? These questions also plague a communicator when drafting stories for various stakeholders.
  2. Logical Thinking & Reasoning:Extremely important and relevant, as important as an apple falling from a tree or the right trajectory of a rocket. There has to be a method to the madness (given the fact that engineers work in larger numbers together, they have to collectively work together to create something new or reverse engineer a product.
  3. Attention to Detail: The devil is in the detail, is a common idiom. We as communicators train our minds to read the lines, read in between the lines and dissect things on an ongoing basis. Trust me over here, I keep a 300-line item long checklist when it comes to events. 
  4. Creativity & Innovation: Think efficiency, think lean, think Kaizen, what are they about? They are all about methodical improvement and solving problems efficiently. If there is a problem statement when it comes to a company’s visibility, the communicator is the go to person who will help resolve it. 
  5. Team player: Extremely important, humans are social animals and engineers are highly skilled beings who need a line of sight for every activity. Working together is imperative from following a timeline, a Gantt chart to much more complex real-world problems. 
  6. Problem Solving and Math: Ability to solve a problem and give an accurate undeniable numerically correct response at times also helps. While handling Investor Relations, I was challenged multiple times to understand how some of the numbers add up in some of the businesses. It took time, but once you enjoy and embrace the numbers, suddenly you find yourself new friends from financial wizards to CFOs to Analysts. 

To conclude, I would go back to where I started, “What does it take to be an Engineer?” Is a communicator an engineer as well? Yes. And demystifying complex everyday challenges is never an easy task.

To quote 

“In the end, we self-perceiving, self-inventing, locked-in mirages are little miracles of self-reference.” 

– Douglas R. Hofstadter (Author of Pulitzer winning Gödel, Escher, Bach)

This is my first column on communications in the business world, #JustBusiness and how we simplify complex problems in complex organisations and matrixed environments. I do believe I have a keen sense for Technology and its future. Of course, I would try to stick to opportunities, hits and misses from the point of view of Communications only. Am a traveler at heart, sometimes the mind also travels if not reigned in.  If am not writing on these, might as well write on self-help, fitness and well being in our lives. What do you think?

Sanaj Natarajan
Sanaj Natarajan is a Corporate Communications Leader with experience in Capital Goods and Technology industry. In a career spanning over 14 years as a communicator, he has worked on campaigns around External Communications, Investor relations and Greenfield and Brownfield sites.
Sanaj loves to read on current affairs, technology magazines and travel to different places and absorb cultures and relish various cuisines. In his free time, he dabbles in video production, film making and running marathons.

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