Boredom as a professional engineer led Anthony Fasano, who teaches seven courses for the AAAS Career Development Center, to his current vocation as a career coach for engineers.
Although he said he struggled early on in his career as a civil engineer, he achieved success in his field. At Maser Consulting, his first job after graduating from Lafayette College, Fasano was promoted to an associate role at the company when he was 27. He was the youngest associate in the company’s history.
“I noticed in my career that engineers who were successful had a combination of not just technical skills, but also interpersonal skills,” Fasano said.
“They were able to communicate effectively, they were able to network and build relationships, they were leaders. And so once I recognized that I decided to develop those skills myself and when I did I had a tremendous amount of success in my career.”
But he was getting restless. “I got bored, quite frankly,” he admitted. “Because I was very successful and I had a boss at the time who wasn’t giving me more responsibility and I got bored to the point that I looked into other things.”
He said that he’s had an interest in coaching since he was a kid, when he read books by the motivational speaker Tony Robbins. So he signed up for an executive coaching school where he took courses in the evenings for a year. It was around this time that he saw an opportunity to take what he’d learned in his early career as an engineer and spread it to others in his field.
“Kind of a combination of everything led me to think I had…success as an engineer because I developed these [interpersonal] skills as an engineer,” Fasano said. “And engineers need these skills and they don’t know they need them and I can teach them.”
It was then that he collaborated with the human resources department of Maser Consulting to create a coaching program within the firm. He taught that program for a year and then left the firm to dedicate his time to career coaching.
He wrote a book, “Engineer Your Own Success: 7 Key Elements to Creating an Extraordinary Engineering Career,” and also started a company, The Engineering Career Coach, with Christian Knudson, so that they could pass along the professional development wisdom he’d acquired to other engineers. His book was a bestseller on Amazon.com when it came out in 2011 and an updated version of it was published by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers in 2014.
His company has a popular website with a blog and two podcasts. On “The Civil Engineering Podcast” he talks about, well, civil engineering and on “The Engineering Career Coach,” he offers career guidance and tips for engineers of all stripes. His company also runs a support forum for engineers called The Engineering Mastermind, teaches courses on career development for engineers, and does one-on-one career coaching sessions with engineers.
For the past five years, Fasano has also served as the executive director of the New York Society of Professional Engineers, where he educated engineers on attaining and maintaining their professional licenses. So, he’s working to help engineers develop their careers in a variety of ways.
Career coaching and development isn’t anything new. Fasano acknowledges that, saying that it’s important for professionals in any field.
“But…its important for engineers because…. In engineering school you’re mostly taught the technical stuff because there’s a lot of technical stuff to learn and they don’t have time to teach you anything else,” he said. “But in the real world, when you get out of school, you need technical skills, but because it’s such a team-driven, people-driven industry, you also need to have interpersonal skills. So if you can put those two together, that’s extremely powerful.”
Fasano also helps professionals in the STEM fields develop that ability to marry their technical ability with interpersonal skills for the AAAS Career Development Center. He’s only been working with AAAS in this capacity for “15 months,” he said, but has become quite prolific in that short time span.
He’s made seven professional development courses for AAAS on a variety of topics, including How to Implement Career Changing Ideas for Early Career Engineers, Communicating and Collaborating Effectively with Teams for Early Career Engineers, and How to Network and Build Strong Relationships in Your Science or Engineering Career.
One of the things that he said is lacking in professional engineers, especially those who are just starting out, is the ability to communicate their potentially groundbreaking or lucrative ideas to their superiors and collaborators. He said he’s looking to help people identify and execute ideas that are going to trigger rapid growth in their careers.
“I tend to try to help professionals think about the big things they can do in their career to drive growth…. Everyone is limited on time and energy, so whatever time and energy you have you should put into something that’s going to produce the most results,” he said.
“So, for example, if I’m an engineer and I have this idea and I go to my company and I say ‘Hey, I have the skills and experience to create a new service line that could offer a new service that we don’t offer right now’ and I do that and I’m successful that’s a massive win for my company and people. They’re going to look at the bottom line and it’s going to be much increased because of me, so that’s going to be a career-changing action, as opposed to saying ‘Oh, I’m going to maybe take a couple of courses this year and work on a couple of my [technical] skills.”
Although several of his courses for AAAS and work outside of that are geared for early career engineers, he said people can benefit from his guidance at any stage of their career. “I think the stuff that I teach is applicable to everyone involved,” he said.
“Engineers of all experience levels, professionals, especially technical professionals like scientists could benefit from these courses. I just think that the way you apply what you learn might be different based on your experience level. When you’re an experienced engineer you’re going to use your communication skills to motivate your team. So I think all of my AAAS courses offer benefits to engineers and technical professionals throughout their career.”
Meet More AAAS Members