Cal Poly Pomona - IME Engineering Colloquium Speaker Series - Winter 98
What a Young Engineer Should Know About...Being a Consultant
Based on a Presentation by:
Lynne Uribe, P.E, IE `91.
Uribe & Associates
February 9, 1998
(Return to Colloquium Page)
By Mario Rodriguez and J.P. Tenore. Photography by John Kord. Editing and Web Page Design by Phil Rosenkrantz.

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Ms. Lynne Uribe, P.E.


Lynne with students after speaking at the IME Colloquium


Background

Lynne Uribe became a consultant after having the good fortune of developing a strong association with an experienced consultant early in her working career. Because she had a strong undergraduate education and had developed good professional and people skills, she was able to capitalize on this situation. She shares below what she has learned with young engineers who may be considering a career as a consultant.

 

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How to Prepare For Consulting
Before graduation you can start preparing for a consulting career by making smart choices during your undergraduate years and developing important skills. Lynne suggested the following strategies during your undergraduate education in order to best posture yourself for a consulting career later on:

Curriculum - Follow the curriculum set for you. Learn the concepts in all courses because each one is important. Learn problem solving techniques. They will help in developing and applying sound thinking processes and the ability to look at the "big picture".
 
Writing Skills - It is important to always be grammatically correct and write flowing sentences. This skill is required for proposal writing--a necessity for consultants.

Work Experience - Various experiences can be applied in future consulting projects. From necessary engineering tasks to menial jobs, you can always learn people skills. Be a student of how to understand people from varying backgrounds and ways to approach them.

Involvement with Professional Societies - Professional societies can help you network with other engineers who specialize in various areas. They are a good way of keeping up-to-date with the latest information.

Career Center - Students are able to practice and learn about interviewing techniques, proper attire, and speaking skills. These are necessary skills to develop to be a successful consultant.

After graduation you can continue to prepare for a consulting career by pursuing the following:

Professional Registration/Certification (EIT and PE) - Take the EIT as soon as possible and always take the review courses. Passing the EIT will always leave you with your options open.

Professional Societies - Continue being involved. Organizations such as IIE are important.


Networking - Keeping up and sharing with classmates and friends from other organizations and industries is a good source of ideas and information.

 

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How to Get Started in Consulting

Lynne discussed two methods in starting a career in consulting: Joining a consulting company; or becoming self employed with associates. As in every option, there are advantages and disadvantages. Here are some of Lynne's comments:

Joining a Consulting Company:

 Advantages  Disadvantages
  • Established for many years
  • Usually work in a single function (selling, marketing, etc.)
  • Easy to establish mentor(s)
  • Steadier income
  • Working for a company and having a boss
  • Continuous traveling
  • Constant push on justifying billable hours


Self-Employment:
 Advantages  Disadvantages
  • You get to be your own boss, from writing your own proposals to making your own hours
  • Potentially great financial rewards
  • Stretched for time due to working in other functions such as marketing, selling, tech support, etc.
  • Periods of no business which can affect income
  • Requires self-discipline

 

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A Few Things to Know When Self-employed

Since Lynne is a self-employed consultant, she was able to provide a little more insight on what can help a future self-employed consultant.

Goals and Needs - Properly set up your business based on your goals and needs. You must decide whether or not to incorporate based on your own personal situation. You can reasonably expect to:


File a fictitious business name
Incorporate or reserve a business name
Obtain an Employer ID
Obtain a state employer account number

Build Your Image - Image is important for a consultant. Money should be spent here since it adds value to the company by promoting an image. Your business cards and stationery may seem trivial, but they create an image with clients and are imortant.

Associate With Another Person or Organization If You Can - If there was one thing Lynne stressed that was a critical factor in her success, it was that she had the support from a parent company. It was a mutually beneficial arrangement.

 

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How to Maintain Consulting Career

Learn to Cultivate Business - Take courses in marketing and selling. They will help with communication skills between mangers and upper level personal as well as help you with your own product development.

Proposal Writing - Watch your language and try to learn the language of the customer. Shut up and listen to the client and then write it down. Try to quantify the client's needs as much as possible and avoid vague goals and objectives. Work in stages with evaluation points (milestones) which can be used to show progress to the client.

Give a Little Extra - Give a little more than what the client expects. This helps in getting more referrals and repeat business. Lynne feels that this practice has generated much of her follow-on and referral business.

Learn How to Identify Pertinent Information - From the start, Lynne stressed the importance of discussing and sticking to "pertinent information"--a very important tip she covered for future consultants. Read up on the subject at hand and find out what is considered relevant and important. Learn from previous assignments and your mistakes. If you stay focused on your goals it is easier to decide what is pertinent and you can stay headed in the right direction.

 

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How to Maintain Your Edge When Consulting

Since being a consultant demands a lot of your time and the hours can be irregular. Following are some of Lynne's suggestions for coping with these conditions:

Maintain discipline for personal well-being - In order to have the energy to be a consultant over the long haul, it is necessary to eat healthy, get plenty of sleep, and performing some type of physical activity to relieve stress. When traveling, learn how to take a break from work. You will need one schedule or routine for while you are at home and one for when you are traveling.

Maintain discipline if you are working at home - You need to separate work from home life. When starting your work day at home, do not stop for anything personal. Lynne treats her work time as mandatory and does not change her work routine unless it is an emergency.

 

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Biography

Ms. Lynne (Egan) Uribe graduated from Cal Poly Pomona in June 1991 with a B.S in Industrial Engineering. As an undergraduate she was active in student professional organizations and received numerous department scholarships and honors. Upon graduation, she worked as a production supervisor for Frito Lay Inc. at the Rancho Cucamonga Plant from 1991 to 1992. As production supervisor she implemented an empowerment program to a 25 member work group, facilitated a cost performance improvement within the department, and assisted in a reduction of department downtime by 30%.

In October 1992 Lynne founded Uribe & Associates, Industrial Engineering Consulting. The company's emphasis is in the field of work measurement. In the last four years, Lynne has worked in a range of environments: automotive, food processing, digital audio, personal electronics, furniture manufacturing; corporate offices, mail rooms, maintenance departments, and others. Lynne has consulted and trained engineers, managers, and technicians at Ford Motor Company, Ethan Allen Inc., Mattel Toys Inc., Sony Inc., Qualcomm Personal Electronics, Harman Consumer Group, Henredon Furniture Industries, and Century Furniture Industries.

Currently, Lynne is performing project management for the development of a new software product for managing labor standards in the case goods industry.

Lynne is married and has one child.


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