Experience from a Program for Accelerating the Creation of T-shaped Technical Leaders

Speakers: Johanna Axehill and Linda Cederberg, SAAB Aeronautcs
Venue: Stockholm

In the aerospace industry systems are becoming more and more complex. At the same time devel-opment projects run for longer time periods. Consequently there are fewer opportunities for engi-neers to experience the full system lifecycle and the associated nuances in development. This in turn makes it more challenging to grow staff suitable for technical leadership roles, including both breadth and depth of technical skills as well as soft skills for leading large engineering projects. 
In this paper we examine the desired competencies of a technical leader by extending the T-shape engineer model and use the said model to discuss an organization internal, 2.5 year, program to ac-celerate the creation of technical leaders. The evaluation is performed through interviews with pro-gram participants and organizational internal stakeholders. Overall the program has proven cost ef-ficient and successful in the sense the program participants in many cases have progressed into technical leadership roles. The program, as described, has been executed within a single organiza-tion but should be feasible to execute in other organizational settings. While results are very posi-tive, there are some identified improvement suggestions included in the analysis of the program.