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Read an interesting article about an innovative practice in Texas Instuments which seems to be working well. The Technical track. For decades, Texas Instruments has been a world wide leader in the dynamic world of semiconductors. Way back in 1985, it commenced operations in Bangalore, India becoming the first multinational to set up an R&D facility here. With superior technology, products and a skilled and motivated workforce, Texas Instruments continues to augment its position worldwide and in India.

At every technology company, those in the technical role — engineers, science graduates and doctorates — have to make a difficult choice at some point in their careers. Should they stay focused on technology or should they move into a managerial role?

A managerial role means more opportunities, both within and outside the company, faster promotions and better remuneration.

One company, Texas Instruments (TI), winner of the Great Place to Work survey in 2003 and 2004, seems to have found a solution to solve this dilemma.

Through a tool called the Technical Ladder, TI provides a parallel growth track for its engineers who get recognised for their technical contributions and receive mentoring and support to grow into technical leadership roles. TI’s technical ladder is not unique, others like Bell Labs, Intel and IBM offer similar career progressions, but it is the best implemented. In the last 3 years, over 70 per cent of 200 patents filed from TI India have been contributed by people on the tech ladder.

The article speaks of the advantages of such a technical career option but points out that it is no easy path either. The onus of constantly learning, developing and staying on top of frequently changing technology trends is very much a challenge.

A must read for techies.