Engineers Are the Reason Many of Us Are Alive

Barry Ritholtz

(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Where would we be if not for engineers? The truth is, many of us wouldn't be here at all, according to this week's guest on Masters in Business.

“Engineers have saved far more lives than all of the doctors in the world” through their inventions, said John Browne, the chairman of L1 Energy and chief executive officer of BP Plc from 1995 to 2007. Engineering and science are the “golden thread” that runs throughout almost all of humanity’s progress, from health care, economics and defense, to transportation, shelter and more, he said.In our conversation, Browne, a member of the House of Lords, explains how many of humanity’s most pressing problems already have engineering solutions; the impediment is typically a political impasse. This is as true for global warming and energy production as it is for wealth inequality, longevity and public health.

Browne, author of numerous books including the recent "Make, Think, Imagine: Engineering the Future of Civilisation," discussed why coming out of the closet is good business. He argues that being inclusive and building teams where people feel wanted and valuable should be every company’s goal.  Brown points out that there are only a handful of openly gay CEOs at Standard & Poor's 500 companies, when statistically, there should be 25 to 50. The lack of role models is a detriment to gay employees advancing. After he came out, one of his competitors said “John, we all knew you were gay, only none of us were ever brave enough to discuss it with you.”

His favorite books are here; a transcript of our conversation is here.

You can stream/download the full conversation, including the podcast extras on Apple iTunes, Overcast, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Bloomberg and Stitcher. All of our earlier podcasts on your favorite pod hosts can be found here.

Next week we speak with Sarah Ketterer, chief executive officer and co-founder of Causeway Capital Management LLC, which has $52 billion under management. Ketterer was Morningstar's International Manager of the Year in 2017.

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Barry Ritholtz is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He is chairman and chief investment officer of Ritholtz Wealth Management, and was previously chief market strategist at Maxim Group. He is the author of “Bailout Nation.”

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