Balancing Technical Skills and Interpersonal Growth for Engineering Success


Interpersonal GrowthInterpersonal GrowthIn this episode, we talk to Josh Valman, CEO of RPDK, Innovation Board Advisor to the Royal Academy of Engineering, and Investment Committee Board Member at the British Design Fund, about the gap between education and real-world engineering. He emphasizes the importance of practical experience, interpersonal growth, and the need for continuous learning and adaptation in the rapidly changing engineering industry.

***The video version of  this episode can be viewed .***

Engineering Quotes:

Interpersonal GrowthInterpersonal Growth

Interpersonal GrowthInterpersonal Growth

Here Are Some of the Key Points Discussed About Balancing Technical Skills and Interpersonal Growth for Engineering Success:

  • The hands-on, problem-solving approach to learning robotics and engineering differs significantly from what schools typically teach students. While traditional education often focuses on theoretical knowledge and memorization, practical learning involves actively solving real-world problems, emphasizing the importance of hands-on experience and problem-solving skills over rote learning.
  • To support engineers in developing technical expertise along with interpersonal growth and the ability to navigate people-related issues, providing real-world work experience, incorporating simulated client interactions, and inviting industry professionals to teach are essential steps. These approaches expose engineers to practical challenges and workplace dynamics, helping them build necessary soft skills alongside technical knowledge.
  • Josh faced a significant challenge when evaluating a new turbine fan design for electricity generation. It wasn’t just about technical issues but also about market acceptance. This experience emphasized the importance of considering market dynamics alongside technical aspects in engineering projects.
  • To stay current in the industry from school to real-world work amidst changing technology and supply chains, engineers and students should prioritize continuous learning and practical engagement. They can do this by asking questions, collaborating with mentors and peers, and working on personal projects related to their field. Leveraging online resources, attending workshops, and staying connected with professional networks also help in keeping up with emerging trends and dynamics in the industry.
  • In an engineer’s career journey, mentors are essential for providing valuable guidance and real-world insights. They offer practical advice, share experiences, and help navigate industry challenges not covered in academic settings. By leveraging mentorship, engineers can accelerate their professional growth, make informed decisions, and excel in their careers through continuous learning and interpersonal growth.
  • In navigating specific areas of growth, different types of mentors prove highly useful. Technical experts offer guidance in problem-solving and technical skills, while managerial leaders excel in navigating business dynamics and career advancement strategies. Seeking mentorship from individuals in these categories provides a well-rounded perspective and helps develop a comprehensive skill set for success.
  • As engineers advance in their careers, it’s important to keep an eye on new developments and changes in the field. Technology and consumer preferences are evolving rapidly, leading to trends like shorter product lifecycles and a focus on sustainability. Engineers should stay informed about these shifts to remain competitive and adapt to the changing landscape of engineering.

More in This Episode…

In the Take Action Today segment of the show, Josh talks about the importance of having projects and hobbies related to engineering for continuous learning and skill development.

About the Guest, Josh Valman

RPDKRPDKJosh Valman is a pioneering figure in the field of engineering and innovation, currently serving as the CEO of RPDK. His extensive career is marked by roles such as Innovation Board Advisor to the Royal Academy of Engineering, Investment Committee Board Member at the British Design Fund, and Board Member of multiple engineering and innovation businesses. Valman is renowned for his expertise in engineering, supply chain, and change management within businesses, often speaking on these subjects as a professional keynote speaker since June 2012.

Valman’s engineering journey began at the tender age of 10, inspired by the BBC TV Show Robot Wars. This early passion led him from constructing designs with Lego and household tools to mastering design software and the mathematical principles underlying engineering. His curiosity and drive quickly propelled him into the realm of international manufacturing; by 13, he was collaborating with factories in China, and by 15, he was consulting on manufacturing strategies and engineering designs for global businesses. Remarkably, at 17, Valman found himself dismissed from a consultancy role simply because no one had inquired about the age of their prodigious supply chain consultant, who was simultaneously managing multi-million-dollar projects and completing high school.

Undeterred, Valman founded RPD International, a company dedicated to bridging the gap between innovative concepts and mass production. Under his leadership, RPD International became instrumental in assisting businesses to develop commercial engineering designs, establish supply chains, and launch and scale new products across various sectors, including medical devices, consumer electronics, and even sex toys. In 2023, after over a decade of independence, RPD International was acquired, transitioning into RPDK.

Beyond his entrepreneurial achievements, Valman is a committed investor and advisor in the engineering sector. He holds board positions in several UK companies and provides his engineering acumen to the Royal Academy of Engineering among other investment firms. His work reflects a deep understanding that while engineering challenges are often technical, the key to success frequently lies in managing organizational change and people.

Josh Valman’s career is a testament to the power of early passion, relentless innovation, and the capacity to drive significant change in the engineering world. His contributions continue to influence both burgeoning startups and established global enterprises, making him a formidable figure in the engineering and innovation landscape.

About the Host, Jeff Perry, MBA

Jeff Perry, MBAJeff Perry, MBAJeff Perry is a leadership/career coach for engineers, building mindsets, leadership, and career intentions to unlock hidden potential and remove self-imposed roadblocks for career and life. For years, he has had the pleasure of supporting engineers and software pros, from new grads to director level. Having been on the front lines in the technical world, he has been able to map out the necessary skills for becoming a quality leader in the field.

You can connect with Jeff on LinkedIn at or visit his website, Jeff also has a new, FREE, on-demand training course for engineers who are job searching or in job transitions. You can see it at

Resources and Links Mentioned in This Session Include:

Google SketchUp
Red Bull Soapbox Race
Josh Valman’s Website
Connect with Josh Valman on LinkedIn

We would love to hear any questions you might have or stories you might share on how you balance technical skills and interpersonal growth for engineering success.

Please leave your comments, feedback, or questions in the section below.

  • If you enjoyed this post, please consider downloading our free list of 33 Productivity Routines of Top Engineering Executives. Click the button below to download.

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To your success,

Jeff Perry, MBA
Host of The Engineering Career Coach Podcast


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Originally posted 2024-04-09 21:00:21.

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