Six character traits of top-notch engineers

Watch video of lecture


Engineering and technology students have more to offer than brainpower, according to Michael Hoer, executive director of Taiwan Fu Hsing Industrial. At last week’s leadership lecture, Hoer addressed the equally important qualities of ethics, integrity and fortitude that BYU students have in spades and how they can use them to stand out.

Drawing from his wealth of international experience, Hoer illuminated six key characteristics that would set students apart from their colleagues.

Have perspective.

Hoer’s first piece of advice was to view things in their “true relative importance.” He cautioned students against focusing too closely on difficulties and problems in their lives. Successful people, in Hoer’s experience, learn to focus on options and solutions instead of challenges.

Develop excellent interpersonal skills.

While doing business in China, Hoer learned the business value of making friends with his coworkers. Though he saved his company millions of dollars, it was his interpersonal skills that represented a real return on investment for his career – and all it cost him was eating lunch in the cafeteria with the other workers.

Interpersonal skills, Hoer said, are a must-have skill to be a leader.

“Basically,” he said, “the higher you rise in an organization, the higher the proportion of your time will be spent with people and not things. If you cannot successfully work with others, you will not be an effective leader. It’s just that simple.”

Live with integrity.

Integrity in the workplace does more than keep employees out of jail. Hoer stressed the role BYU students play as ambassadors for their belief. Hoer talked about the “Mormon Moment” the Church is currently experiencing and the responsibility it places on individual members.

“You want people to say of you, ‘When she says something, she means it, and she’ll follow through.’”

Clarify expectations.

Hoer learned in his student days that almost all conflicts arise because people have unmet expectations. His solution to this problem was very simple: always clarify what peoples’ expectations are and work from there.

“Most people are not very good about clarifying their expectations, even though they certainly have expectations.”

Hoer used a hypothetical analogy of showing up to work with a 10-page report, only to find that the supervisor wanted no more than a one-page summary. He said conflicts and misunderstandings such as these could be avoided simply by asking a few questions and clarifying expectations.

Be Yo Banfa.

Yo Banfa, roughly translated from Chinese, means “there is a way.” It represents an attitude of optimism and tenacity that separates the leaders from the followers.

“Being Yo Banfa means making things happen and being proactive, being willing to pay the price and do hard things. It means being creative, working harder than everyone else to find the way to get things done… if you are a person of action, you will stand out in your company.”

Keep your priorities in line.

Hoer explained that anyone can more effectively stay focused on their purpose by asking themselves two questions: “What is most important here?” and “What am I trying to accomplish?” Whether it applies to a class, a product design, a meeting or even a use of free time, asking those questions will point the individual back to what is most important.

Hoer applauded the college for producing “top-notch engineers” who, in addition to having intellectual and technical skills, were “men and women of faith who will make an impact in the companies where they serve and the communities where they serve.” As students strive to adopt Hoer’s six key characteristics, their ability to make an impact will certainly be increased.

Hoer was the second guest to speak at this year’s Leadership Lecture Series, hosted by the Weidman Center for Global Leadership. The next lecture will be held on November 15 and will feature S. Max Brown, who will speak on the benefits of emotional intelligence. For more information, please visit  

To watch Mike Hoer’s lecture in its entirety, click here.




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