The previous Application Corner column alluded to how you may be an expert in your plant or organization. Large organizations — and even a few select plants — can afford to have a flow measurement expert. However, operating plants and organizations of all sizes need this expertise, albeit in lesser amounts on projects of great relative importance. The expectations of management and a path to becoming the flow measurement expert at your plant or organization are quite similar to how lawyers approach hiring an expert witness.
Plaintiffs and defendants expect their legal experts to know everything about their field of expertise. It should come as no surprise that your management has similar expectations. Even the best experts can have difficulty meeting this high standard. However, there are certain prerequisites that clients seek before hiring an expert, depending upon the case at hand.
Almost everyone hiring an expert will investigate their credibility. After all, the expert will likely be asked to testify in court, and it is important for the expert to be able to articulate complex issues in simple terms to a jury of people that have little or no technical background. A sense of this ability can be obtained in a telephone interview, but the expert’s background and experience can be even more important. In particular, writing books and articles as well as having decades of relevant experience and teaching the subject at hand are fundamental for the testimony to get the proper attention and be believed by a judge or jury.
On the other hand, coincidence can play a role in being hired as an expert. In one such case, I was hired virtually on the spot after the lawyer discovered that I worked on a case in which the lawyer was briefly involved at another firm. We knew the same people and it was a natural fit. Providing a curriculum vitae was a little more than a formality for presentation to the client.
Finding meaningful work is not easy and typically requires years of education and experience. The same is true in your plant or organization. What have you done to promote your background and experience?
David W. Spitzer is a principal at Spitzer and Boyes, LLC, which offers engineering, focused market research, writing/editing white papers, strategic marketing consulting, distribution consulting, seminars and expert witness services for manufacturing and automation companies. Spitzer has written more than 400 technical articles and 10 books about flow measurement, instrumentation and process control. He can be reached at 845-623-1830 or via spitzerandboyes.com.