After an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering, a Master’s degree in acoustics (also engineering) and working as an engineer at General Electric for three and a half years, I realized I really didn’t enjoy engineering. While I learned a lot at my time at General Electric, especially in project management, engineering just didn’t excite me, at all. I was also discovering that I had an acute interest in business in general and specifically, strategy.
From my limited work experience up to that point, it seemed the highest career success for engineers (who stayed in an engineering role) was the esteemed position of Chief Engineer, CTO, VP of Engineering or similar… and most of those guys where in their 60’s. When you are in your mid-20’s, that seems like way too long to wait for a more senior role that I really didn’t want.
While I admittedly didn’t fully understand investment banking at the time, I had learned enough to be sufficiently intrigued and decided to head in that direction. Perhaps the money was somewhat alluring, but I honestly was just interested in the work. The money was the icing on the cake.
As I left GE, my boss told me that I was an idiot1 because I would never make more money than if I stayed at GE and continued working as an engineer.
Sometimes it’s smart to listen to the advice of others. Sometimes it pays to ignore them completely and chase your own dreams and aspirations. This was a case of the latter.
Two years later, I was making 5x my previous engineering salary.