The Mindset of a Customer-Facing Engineer


How does a customer-facing engineer approach work differently from an engineer who is not customer-facing? See the table below.


An engineer who is NOT customer-facing:
A customer-facing engineer:
Works with technology for technology's sake. Focuses sharply on what is “under the hood.”Works with technology, focusing on how it can provide value to end-users.
Searches for an elegant solution.Values elegance, but sometimes needs to sacrifice it in favor of adhering to project constraints.
Works on one thing at a time.Can multitask.
Highly favors building systems from scratch.Likes to build from scratch, but will reuse and integrate with existing systems when that is more appropriate.
Favors non-changing customer requirements. Sees projects as a “stationary target.”Can embrace changing customer-requirements. Sees projects as a “moving target.”
Communicates on a wavelength that only other engineers understand; uses many technical terms.Can communicate in language appropriate for the audience.
Strives for perfection.Can tolerate imperfection.
Approaches decision making objectively.Uses a combination of objectivity and subjectivity to make decisions.
Is risk averse.Embraces risk, but does so by taking a disciplined approach.
May be naïve to organizational structure or may continuously rebel against it.Works within organizational structure to accomplish job goals effectively. Realizes that sometimes overstepping one's bounds can be valuable, but does so carefully and respectfully.
Works with a high degree of depth.Balances breadth and depth.