What is the difference between an engineer and an FD?

Someone said to me today, 'financial directors spend money, engineers invest it.'

It was in reference to automation systems. Time and time again I hear how engineers have to justify large capital expenditure to the short term thinking of those with the purse strings.

But, if UK industry is to remain competitive globally, it must stay ahead of the game. And that means investment in research and development, and the implementation of new technologies sooner, rather than later. It is pre-emptive, not reactive.

Companies that have continually invested throughout good times and bad have been able to weather the financial storm much better than those that have not. And when the economy does pick up again, these are the players that will dominate.

For engineers, it is about thinking ahead and negating risk. Just because a process is profitable today, doesn't mean it will be tomorrow. And, with payback of many automation systems down to two years and even six months in some extreme cases, even financial directors are coming round to the idea that spending and investment are two very different things. Well almost...

J Cunningham

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